Author Spotlight: CS Lewis
As children, we’ve always been enamored by worlds beyond our wildest dreams. And as children, we always found the most amazing worlds in the smallest of places. CS Lewis was an author who was able to turn a wardrobe into a fantastic realm of magic.
CS Lewis, or Jack Lewis as he preferred, was born in 1898 in Belfast, Ireland, to Albert Lewis and Flora Hamilton Lewis. They lived in a house called the Little Lea and lived a comfortable life unaffected by civil strife. Two of his favorite books were Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
In 1908, Jack’s mother fell ill and died of cancer. He and his brother, Warnie, were sent to a boarding school in England barely a month after their mother’s passing. He disliked the school, and fortunately for him, it closed in 1910. After a year, he was sent back to England to study again. This time, however, the experience was more positive.
A Scholar in the Making
Lewis started to enjoy poetry, mostly the works of Virgil and Homer. He also soon mastered the modern languages of French, German, and Italian.
In 1916, Lewis was accepted at University College at Oxford University. Soon after, Lewis left in order to volunteer for active duty in the First World War. Lewis returned to Oxford after the war, graduating in 1925 with first-class honors in Greek and Latin literature, philosophy and ancient history, and English literature. He was then given a teaching post in English at Oxford’s Magdalen College, where he remained for 29 years. In 1955, he became a professor of medieval and renaissance literature at Magdalene College in Cambridge.
The Lewis Byline
Along with his teaching, Lewis started writing and publishing books, the first of which, The Pilgrim’s Regress, was about his spiritual journey to Christian faith. He also wrote a history of love literature from the Middle Ages to Shakespeare called an Allegory of Love. This is still considered a masterpiece today. He also wrote Out of the Silent Planet, the first book of a science fiction trilogy, the hero of which is loosely based on Lewis’s friend JRR Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings.
Lewis of course is best known for his fantasy children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia. The first published book, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, was criticized by Tolkien for having too many elements that didn’t go together. However, Lewis persevered and wrote six more books. The last book, The Last Battle, was published in 1956. It was not immediately well-received by critics, but over time, it gained popularity and became a well-loved children’s classic.
Lewis died on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated.
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