CS Lewis 1898 – 1963
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
Clive Staples Lewis, or “Jack,” as he was known to his friends died over 50 years ago yet most of his books continue to enjoy considerable success. Despite becoming a legend in his own lifetime, Jack lived a simple life in a modest home on the outskirts of Oxford.
He was a tutor at Magdalene College Oxford and later Professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. Due to the demands of academic life, Lewis had to write most of his books in his ‘spare time.’
That he was able to pen over thirty books under such conditions as well as many essays, poems and academic papers is an extraordinary achievement. The sheer volume and quality of his output over such a wide range of subjects revealed a man of broad and immense intellectual standing.
When in his early thirties, he embraced Christianity, that standing was applied to thoughtful proofs of his new found faith. Though his writings brought him great recognition, it was his Chronicles of Narnia children’s books that cemented his worldwide fame.
Lewis’ powerful eloquence and humor ensured his lectures were always ‘standing-room’ only. His first BBC series was so successful he returned for two more series. With his celebrity increasing unabated it meant ever-increasing demands on his time. Despite his heavy work-load, he replied to every letter received from his countless readers including all those from children. Inevitably, fame and fortune came with his celebrity yet he cared little for the former and gave most of the latter away.
Find out more about CS Lewis:
The Marion E Wade Center at Wheaton College, Illinois holds the foremost collection of papers, books and manuscripts relating to CS Lewis (also of JRR Tolkien). They are marking the 50th anniversary of Lewis’s death with a number of events including a a celebration of his life on November 23, 2013 in New York.
The Bodleian Library, at the University of Oxford also holds a collection of Lewis’s papers.
Into the Wardrobe – a wonderful website full of academic papers, news and works of CS Lewis.
David Payne’s must reads:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Perhaps Lewis’s most famous novel, this is one of the seven books in the children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia.
Mere Christianity: A classic Christian apologetic book, based on Lewis’s BBC radio talks during World War 11
The Screwtape Letters: The fictional correspondence of a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew and understudy, Wormwood, discussing temptation strategies to be applied to human’s whom they refer to as “patients.”
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life: Lewis’s autobiography beginning with his childhood and ending just after his conversion to Christianity in 1931.