WordSmith Musings, Writing

Author Spotlight: C.S. Lewis

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.”

C.S. Lewis

You can make anything by writing.” 

C.S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis has been considered one of the most prolific writers of the past century. He has written over 30 books, including theological greats such as Mere Christianity and the Problem of Pain, fiction like Till We Have Faces and Out of the Silent Planet, and the classic series The Chronicles of Narnia which has sold over a 100 million copies and been adapted into three major motion pictures. 

Lewis was born in Belfast on November 29, 1898 and led an extraordinary life. He attended boarding school in Ireland and England before receiving a scholarship to University College, Oxford in 1916. Soon after he enlisted in the British Army. He was wounded in the Battle of Arras in 1918 and discharged later that year. He continued his studies at Oxford, earning  a First in Honour Moderations (Greek and Latin literature) in 1920, a First in Greats (Philosophy and Ancient History) in 1922, and a First in English in 1923.

Lewis was appointed an English Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford in 1925 where he tutored English Literature and Language. He remained on staff there for the next 29 years. During that time, he met J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the famed Lord of the Rings series, which was the beginning of a great friendship. Tolkien even based the character Treebeard after Lewis, while Lewis based the character Professor Digory Kirke on Tolkien. They were both a part of the literary discussion group called the Inklings at Oxford. 

Between 1919 and 1940, Lewis published six books and had begun compiling Mere Christianity based on wartime broadcasts. In 1942, Lewis joined the Oxford Socratic Club, sponsoring the student group by becoming its President. The group discussed the intellectual difficulties within religions, particularly Christianity. Lewis, who had given up his Christian faith in his youth, had rededicated his life to Christianity a little over a decade previously in 1931. 

Over the next four years, Lewis published five books, three talks from BBC recordings, and a preface to Paradise Lost. In 1946, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of St. Andrews. In 1947 he appeared on the cover of Time Magazine and he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1948. 

He published six more books and, in 1954, he became the chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. 

Two years later, Lewis married Joy Davidman Gresham. They were married until 1960, when Joy passed away. He passed away three years later from kidney failure. He had published another eleven books by that time and four more were published posthumously. 

Lewis’ books have forever changed my life. His works on Christianity have helped me develop well-thought out and intellectual opinions and decisions about my own faith. His series, The Chronicles of Narnia, were fabulously written and are a great example of world creation. 

He was an extremely intellectual scholar and used his writing to express that over and over again. Lewis is an author that deserves to be honored and celebrated. 

First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”

C.S. Lewis

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