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Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 22 November 1963), commonly called C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, Ireland, he held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College), 19251954, and Cambridge University (Magdalene College), 19541963. He is best known both for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.
Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and both were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptized in the Church of Ireland (part of the Anglican Communion) at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England". His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.
In 1956, he married the American writer Joy Davidman, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of cancer at the age of 45. Lewis died three years after his wife, from renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal; he died on 22 November 1963the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and that another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis was honoured with a memorial in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.
Lewis's works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularized on stage, TV, radio, and cinema. His works entered the public domain in 2014 in countries where copyright expires 50 years after the death of the creator, such as Canada.
Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, on 29 November 1898. His father was Albert James Lewis (18631929), a solicitor whose father, Richard, had come to Ireland from Wales during the mid-19th century. His mother was Florence Augusta Lewis, n้e Hamilton (18621908), known as Flora, the daughter of a Church of Ireland (Anglican) priest. He had an elder brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis. At the age of four, shortly after his dog Jacksie was killed by a car, he announced that his name was now Jacksie. At first, he would answer to no other name, but later accepted Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life. When he was seven, his family moved into "Little Lea", the family home of his childhood, in the Strandtown area of East Belfast.
As a boy, Lewis had a fascination with anthropomorphic animals, falling in love with Beatrix Potter's stories and often writing and illustrating his own animal stories. He and his brother Warnie together created the world of Boxen, inhabited and run by animals. Lewis loved to read; and, as his father's house was filled with books, he felt that finding a book to read was as easy as walking into a field and "finding a new blade of grass".
Lewis was schooled by private tutors before being sent to the Wynyard School in Watford, Hertfordshire, in 1908, just after his mother's death from cancer. Lewis's brother had enrolled there three years previously. The school was closed not long afterwards due to a lack of pupils; the headmaster Robert "Oldie" Capron was soon after committed to a psychiatric hospital. Lewis then attended Campbell College in the east of Belfast about a mile from his home, but he left after a few months due to respiratory problems. He was then sent to the health-resort town of Malvern, Worcestershire, where he attended the preparatory school Cherbourg House, which Lewis calls "Chartres" in his autobiography. It was during this time that Lewis abandoned his childhood Christian faith and became an atheist, becoming interested in mythology and the occult. In September 1913, Lewis enrolled at Malvern College, where he remained until the following June. He found the school socially competitive. After leaving Malvern, he studied privately with William T. Kirkpatrick, his father's old tutor and former headmaster of Lurgan College.
As a teenager, he was wonder-struck by the songs and legends of what he called Northernness, the ancient literature of Scandinavia preserved in the Icelandic sagas. These legends intensified an inner longing he later called "joy". He also grew to love nature; its beauty reminded him of the stories of the North, and the stories of the North reminded him of the beauties of nature. His teenage writings moved away from the tales of Boxen, and he began using different art forms (epic poetry and opera) to try to capture his new-found interest in Norse mythology and the natural world. Studying with Kirkpatrick ("The Great Knock", as Lewis afterwards called him) instilled in him a love of Greek literature and mythology and sharpened his skills in debate and sound reasoning. In 1916, Lewis was awarded a scholarship at University College, Oxford. Before he was allowed to attend Oxford, Lewis was conscripted into the First World War. His experience of the horror of war confirmed his atheism.
In 1917, Lewis left his studies to volunteer for the British Army. During the First World War, he was commissioned into the Third Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. Lewis arrived at the front line in the Somme Valley in France on his nineteenth birthday and experienced trench warfare.
On 15 April 1918, Lewis was wounded and two of his colleagues were killed by a British shell falling short of its target. Lewis suffered from depression and homesickness during his convalescence. Upon his recovery in October, he was assigned to duty in Andover, England. He was demobilized in December 1918 and soon returned to his studies.
Lewis received 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. In 1924 he became a philosophy tutor at University College and, in 1925, was elected a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Magdalen College, where he served for 29 years until 1954.
In early June 1961, Lewis began experiencing medical problems and was diagnosed with inflammation of the kidneys which resulted in blood poisoning. His illness caused him to miss the autumn term at Cambridge, though his health gradually began improving in 1962 and he returned that April. Lewis's health continued to improve, and according to his friend George Sayer, Lewis was fully himself by early 1963. On 15 July that year he fell ill and was admitted to hospital. The next day at 5:00 pm, Lewis suffered a heart attack and lapsed into a coma, unexpectedly awaking the following day at 2:00 pm. After he was discharged from the hospital, Lewis returned to the Kilns, though he was too ill to return to work. As a result, he resigned from his post at Cambridge in August. Lewis's condition continued to decline, and in mid-November he was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. On 22 November, exactly one week before his 65th birthday, Lewis collapsed in his bedroom at 5:30 pm and died a few minutes later. He is buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Headington, Oxford. His brother Warren Hamilton "Warnie" Lewis, who died on 9 April 1973, was later buried in the same grave.
Media coverage of his death was almost completely overshadowed by news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which occurred on the same day, as did the death of Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World. This coincidence was the inspiration for Peter Kreeft's book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley.
C. S. Lewis is commemorated on 22 November in the church calendar of the Episcopal Church.
The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) series V.1
C.S. Lewis - The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (read by Michael York)
C.S. Lewis - Prince Caspian (read by Lynn Redgrave)
C.S. Lewis - The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (read by Derek Jacobi)
C.S. Lewis - The Silver Chair (read by Jeremy Northam)
C.S. Lewis - The Horse And His Boy (read by Alex Jennings)
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew (read by Kenneth Branagh)
C.S. Lewis - The Last Battle (read by Patrick Stuart)
The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) series V.2
C.S. Lewis - The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe (read by Michael Hordern)
C.S. Lewis - Prince Caspian (read by Michael Hordern)
C.S. Lewis - The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (read by Michael Hordern)
C.S. Lewis - The Silver Chair (read by Michael Hordern)
C.S. Lewis - The Horse And His Boy (read by Michael Hordern)
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew (read by Michael Hordern)
C.S. Lewis - The Last Battle (read by Michael Hordern)
C.S. Lewis - Out Of The Silent Planet (read by Steven Pacey)
C.S. Lewis - Perelandra (read by Geoffrey Howard)
C.S. Lewis - That Hideous Strength (read by Geoffrey Howard)
C.S. Lewis - The Screwtape Letters (read by John Cleese)
C.S. Lewis - The Great Divorce (read by Robert Whitfield)
C.S. Lewis - The Problem Of Pain (read by Robert Whitfield)
C.S. Lewis - The Abolition Of Man (read by Robert Whitfield)
C.S. Lewis - Miracles (read by Robert Whitfield)
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity (read by Geoffrey Howard)
C.S. Lewis - Surprised By Joy (read by Geoffrey Howard)
C.S. Lewis - Reflection On Psalms (read by Ralph Cosham)
C.S. Lewis - The Four Loves (read by read by ???)
C.S. Lewis - A Grief Observed (read by Ralph Cosham)
The Chronicles of Narnia series V.1
The Chronicles of Narnia series V.2