Renowned author Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland on November 29th, 1898.
Lewis had a lively imagination from an early age. When he was 4 he announced his name was Jack, and his family called him Jack from then onwards. Foreshadowing some of his most famous work later in life, during childhood with his brother Warren, Lewis created the imaginary land of Boxen, which had a complicated history and housed many incredible creatures.
Graduating in literature and classic philosophy at Oxford University, Lewis was then awarded a fellowship teaching position at Magdalen College. It was during his time in Oxford that he joined The Inklings, a group of writers and intellectuals who included Tolkien among their number. It would be conversations with his fellow Inklings that led to Lewis embracing Christianity. This would be a great influence on him and his writing, and during the Second World War, he broadcast popular radio shows on his faith.
Lewis’s first book, the satirical Dymer , was published in 1926. Ten years later another work, The Allegory of Love, won the Hawthornden Prize. Post-war, In the 1950’s, Lewis started to publish the seven books that would comprise The Chronicles of Narnia children’s series, beginning with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Set in the magical world of Narnia, the tales are filled with mythical creatures and talking animals. Throughout the series, a variety of Biblical themes are presented; the main being the representation of Christ through the character of Aslan, the lion.
In 1954, Lewis moved to Cambridge University as a literature professor, and in 1956 he married an American English teacher, Joy Gresham. Sadly, Joy died of cancer in 1960; Lewis’s subsequent unhappiness was detailed in his book, A Grief Observed. The Oscar winning film Shadowlands tells the story of Lewis’s relationship with his wife.
Resigning from his Cambridge post in 1963 after experiencing heart trouble, C.S. Lewis died on November 22nd, 1963, in Oxford, leaving a legacy of dozens of books, religious papers and poems. Many of his stories have since been made into television programmes and films, most famously those from The Chronicles of Narnia, and this will most likely continue to be the case.
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.