Screencap of a video featuring C.S Lewis’s last surviving audio reel, November 29, 2017 – YouTube/gnosisandlight
CAIRO – 29 November 2017: November 29 is the birthday of C.S Lewis, the celebrated Irish-English author who created the “Chronicles of Narnia” and wrote extensively on his defense of Christianity using reason and logic. He has been considered one of the most important writers of his time.
Born on 1898 in Ireland, Lewis was raised amongst a book-loving family which helped to nurture his intellect and love for writing from an early age, with some of his favorite authors being Mark Twain and Conan Doyle. He frequently played with his brother in an imaginary world the two had created, filled with talking animals and noble knights.
The death of his mother in 1908 from cancer pushed Lewis away from religion. Lewis served with the British Army in World War I, though he was sent home soon enough after suffering an injury.
Having settled down in Oxford, which he now considered home, Lewis published his first writing in 1919, under the pseudonym of ‘Clive Hamilton’. He graduated from Oxford University, which he would later teach at.
In 1925 he accepted a scholarship to the Magdalen College, where he joined a writing/intellectual group called ‘The Inklings’, among which was JRR Tolkien, and discussions among them along with Lewis’s reading of Christian authors such as George MacDonald helped reignite Lewis’s faith in a higher power. By 1930, he had converted back to Christianity.
His first foray into fiction was with 1938’s “Out of the Silent Planet”, the first of a science fiction trilogy which combined religious themes and outer space adventures. While the books were successful, it was the publishing of 1940’s “The Problem of Pain” and a series of BBC radio talks he later collected into his book “Mere Christianity” that brought Lewis to public attention, as he argued for and defended the case for God using intellectual and sound arguments.
Yet it was in 1950 that Lewis would see his most famous work, with the publishing of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, the first of “The Chronicles of Narnia”.
This fantastical children’s series told of a magical land filled with mythical beasts known as Narnia, locked in eternal winter for over a century by the White Witch. Four children, sent to live away from their home after World War II breaks out, travel to Narnia through their cupboard, helping in the battle against good and evil.
The series spanned seven books overall, and included heavy Christian themes especially in the character of Aslan, a noble talking Lion who represented Jesus Christ.
The immense popularity of the books ensured it would be translated into over 47 languages and numerous adaptations from radio, TV and film, the biggest of which was in 2005 with a feature film by director Andrew Adamson which won the Academy Award for ‘Best Achievement in Makeup’ and starred Tilda Swinton as the White Witch and Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan.
Lewis’s later life would be marked by great joy, and promptly, great sadness. In 1956 he married the love of his life, Joy Davidman, an English teacher who was a fan of Lewis’s writing. Though they were only married for a few short years until her death of cancer in 1960, Lewis’s time with her was the happiest in his life, and the grief he felt over her death led him to write “A Grief Observed” under the penname of N.W. Clerk, and only published by his name after his death. The book was a highly personal exploration of Lewis’s time grieving, and included meditations on why God allowed this to happen.
In 1963 Lewis resigned from his current position as teacher in Cambridge University due to heart troubles, and died on November 22, 1963 in Oxford, three years after the death of his wife. His final book, “Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer”, featured Lewis writing letters to a fictional friend explaining the purposes of prayer and other aspects of the Christian faith. It was published a year after Lewis’s death.