From My Bookshelf – Author C.S. Lewis

One of the first series of books I bought when I was young was “The Chronicles of Narnia”. They were on sale as a boxed set at my school’s book fair. I still have them, and have re-read them many times. Since then, I’ve enjoyed reading many of Lewis’ works and discovering more about the author.

Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 near Belfast, Northern Ireland. When he was nine years old, his childhood was shaken with the death of his mother. Perhaps out of an inability to cope with the loss of his wife, Albert Lewis sent Clive and his older brother, Warren away to boarding school. It was here that Lewis’ belief system began to turn toward atheism.

Many years later (in September 1931), Lewis, Tolkien, and their mutual friend Hugo Dyson were talking about myth. It was on that evening that Tolkien taught Lewis that Christianity was “the true myth.” Weeks later, he records making a commitment to Christ while on his way to the zoo with his brother. His belief was so dramatic, that during WWII the BBC asked Lewis to give a series of radio broadcasts for the entire British public, explaining what Christianity is (these later became his popular book, Mere Christianity).

From the mid 1930s to the late 1940s, and while teaching at Oxford University, he and a few author friends began meeting twice weekly to discuss and critique each other’s works. They named themselves the Inklings” and consisted of Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Lewis’s brother, Warren. Among the works that were discussed was Tolkien’s children’s adventure, The Hobbit. Lewis’s influence on Tolkien’s writing led Tolkien to confide to a mutual friend that “for the encouragement of C.S. Lewis, I do not think that I should ever have completed or offered for publication The Lord of the Rings.”

Between the years of 1931 and 1962, Lewis published 34 books, which included Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. The Narnia series proved to be his most lucrative work, having sold over 100 million copies and adapted into three major motion pictures.

In 1954, and following his many years at Oxford, Lewis accepted the newly founded chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge where he finished his career. 

During that time, Lewis met Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer of Jewish background, a former Communist, and a convert from atheism to Christianity. They were married in 1957, though the marriage lasted only four years when Joy died from cancer in 1960. Lewis never re-married.

On November 22, 1963, exactly one week before his 65th birthday, Lewis collapsed in his bedroom at 5:30 pm and died a few minutes later. He is buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Headington, Oxford.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity