Clive Staples Lewis, better known as C. S. Lewis, was one of the most distinguished writers and intellectual giants of the twentieth century. He spent the first half of his career holding numerous academic positions at Oxford University until he was unanimously elected the Chair of Renaissance and Medieval Literature at Cambridge University, where he worked until his retirement. He is best known for his great works of fiction, including The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and The Space Trilogy.
Lewis’ life began in Ireland. He was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1898 to parents Albert and Florence (Flora) Lewis. As a child, Clive was fascinated with anthropomorphic animals and the works of Beatrix Potter. He wrote his own stories with his own illustrated characters and created a world with his brother Warnie called Boxen, a world completely run by animals. Clive also developed an interest in Northernness, Scandinavian ancient literature preserved in Icelandic sagas. As a teenager, he moved away from his imaginary world, Boxen, and started to use forms of opera and epic poetry to tell tales inspired by Norse mythology and nature.
In 1916, C. S. Lewis was awarded a scholarship to University College at Oxford. However, only a few months into his first year at school, the British Army sent him to France to fight in WWI. Lewis’ experiences of war and its horrors led him to an initial belief in atheism, but he would later be considered a Christian apologist.
Clive experiences a culture shock when he first arrived in England. He wrote in Surprised by Joy:
No Englishman will be able to understand my first impressions of England. The Strange English accents with which I was surrounded seemed like voices of demons. But what was worse 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.
Alongside Norse and Greek mythology, Lewis had a great appreciation for Irish mythology, and consequentially read the works of W. B. Yeats. Lewis met Yeats twice in England and was surprised to learn that he was pretty much ignored by Englishmen. This sentiment made him even more proud to have been Irish and exposed to the wonderful world of W. B. Yeats’ work. While living in England, Lewis took pride in his Irishness so much that he spent much of his time traveling to Northern Ireland, even spending his honeymoon there – a period he dubbed, “my Irish life.”
C. S. Lewis wrote over thirty books, reaching a vast audience in doing so. His greatest works include The Great Divorce, The Allegory of Love, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, and the universally acclaimed classic, Chronicles of Narnia.
Having sold over 100 million copies and translated in 47 languages, Chronicles of Narnia is considered an all time classic in children’s literature. The high fantasy series of 7 volumes is a clear culmination of all that inspired C. S. Lewis in his lifetime: anthropomorphic characters, Christian theology, Greek and Roman mythology, and traditional British and Irish fairytales. Furthermore the saga follows a theme of the search for belonging and displaced nationality, two things greatly struggled with by the author in his lifetime:
I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now… Come further up, come further in!
An unforgettable adventure wrapped in the skillful language used by C. S. Lewis, all 7 volumes of Chronicles of Narnia are available with only light wear in their original jackets, and without any restoration.