C S Lewis Biography & Facts
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954–1963). He is best known for his works of fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.
Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. They both served on the English faculty at Oxford University and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the Inklings. According to Lewis's 1955 memoir Surprised by Joy, he was baptised in the Church of Ireland, but fell away from his faith during adolescence. Lewis returned to Anglicanism at the age of 32, owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, and he became an "ordinary layman of the Church of England". Lewis's faith profoundly affected his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.
Lewis wrote more than 30 books which have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularised on stage, TV, radio, and cinema. His philosophical writings are widely cited by Christian apologists from many denominations.
In 1956, Lewis married American writer Joy Davidman; she died of cancer four years later at the age of 45. Lewis died on 22 November 1963 from kidney failure, one week before his 65th birthday. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis was honoured with a memorial in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast in Ulster, Ireland (before partition), on 29 November 1898. His father was Albert James Lewis (1863–1929), a solicitor whose father Richard Lewis had come to Ireland from Wales during the mid-19th century. Lewis's mother was Florence Augusta Lewis née Hamilton (1862–1908), known as Flora, the daughter of Thomas Hamilton, a Church of Ireland priest, and the great-granddaughter of both Bishop Hugh Hamilton and John Staples. Lewis had an elder brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis (known as "Warnie"). He was baptised on 29 January 1899 by his maternal grandfather in St Mark's Church, Dundela.When his dog Jacksie was killed by a car, the four-year old Lewis adopted the name Jacksie. At first, he would answer to no other name, but later accepted Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life. When he was seven, his family moved into "Little Lea", the family home of his childhood, in the Strandtown area of East Belfast.As a boy, Lewis was fascinated with anthropomorphic animals; he fell in love with Beatrix Potter's stories and often wrote and illustrated his own animal tales. Along with his brother Warnie, he created the world of Boxen, a fantasy land inhabited and run by animals. Lewis loved to read from an early age. His father's house was filled with books; he later wrote that finding something to read was as easy as walking into a field and "finding a new blade of grass".
Lewis was schooled by private tutors until age nine, when his mother died in 1908 from cancer. His father then sent him to England to live and study at Wynyard School in Watford, Hertfordshire. Lewis's brother had enrolled there three years previously. Not long after, the school was closed due to a lack of pupils, and the headmaster Robert "Oldie" Capron was committed to a psychiatric hospital. Lewis then attended Campbell College in the east of Belfast about a mile from his home, but left after a few months due to respiratory problems.
He was then sent back to England to the health-resort town of Malvern, Worcestershire, where he attended the preparatory school Cherbourg House, which Lewis referred to as "Chartres" in his autobiography. It was during this time that he abandoned the Christianity he was taught as a child and became an atheist. During this time he also developed a fascination with European mythology and the occult.In September 1913, Lewis enrolled at Malvern College, where he remained until the following June. He found the school socially competitive. After leaving Malvern, he studied privately with William T. Kirkpatrick, his father's old tutor and former headmaster of Lurgan College.As a teenager, Lewis was wonderstruck by the songs and legends of what he called Northernness, the ancient literature of Scandinavia preserved in the Icelandic sagas. These legends intensified an inner longing that he would later call "joy". He also grew to love nature; its beauty reminded him of the stories of the North, and the stories of the North reminded him of the beauties of nature. His teenage writings moved away from the tales of Boxen, and he began experimenting with different art forms such as epic poetry and opera to try to capture his new-found interest in Norse mythology and the natural world.
Studying with Kirkpatrick ("The Great Knock", as Lewis afterward called him) instilled in him a love of Greek literature and mythology and sharpened his debate and reasoning skills. In 1916, Lewis was awarded a scholarship at University College, Oxford.
"My Irish life"
Lewis experienced a certain cultural shock on first arriving in England: "No Englishman will be able to understand my first impressions of England," Lewis wrote in Surprised by Joy. "The strange English accents with which I was surrounded seemed like the voices of demons. But what was worst was the English landscape ... I have made up the quarrel since; but at that moment I conceived a hatred for England which took many years to heal."From boyhood, Lewis had immersed himself in Norse and Greek mythology, and later in Irish mythology and literature. He also expressed an interest in the Irish language, though there is not much evidence that he laboured to learn it. He developed a particular fondness for W. B. Yeats, in part because of Yeats's use of Ireland's Celtic heritage in poetry. In a letter to a friend, Lewis wrote, "I have here discovered an author exactly after my own heart, whom I am sure you would delight in, W. B. Yeats. He writes plays and poems of rare spirit and beauty about our old Irish mythology."In 1921, Lewis met Yeats twice, since Yeats had moved to Oxford. Lewis was surprised to find his English peers indifferent to Yeats and the Celtic Revival movement, and wrote: "I am often surprised to find how utterly ignored Yeats is among the men I have met: perhaps his appeal is purely Irish – if so, then thank the gods that I am Irish." Early in his career, Lewis considered sending his work to the major Dublin publishers, writing: "If I do ever send my stuff to a publisher, I think I shall try Maunsel, those Dublin people, and so tack myself definitely ont.... Discover the C S Lewis popular books. Find the top 100 most popular C S Lewis books.