Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack”, was a British novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland. He is known for his fictional work, especially ‘The Screwtape Letters’, ‘The Space Trilogy’ and most famously, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’.
The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children which are considered classics of children’s literature. Based around the adventures of a family of four young siblings during the second World War who live a fantasy life in a parallel world inhabited by fantastical, mythological creatures. Written between 1949 and 1954 and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, the series is Lewis’s most popular work, having sold over 100 million copies in 41 languages.It has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage and most recently for the big screen as “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe’, ‘Prince Caspian’ and ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’.
The books contain Christian ideas intended to be easily accessible to young readers. In addition to Christian themes, Lewis also borrows characters from Greek and Roman mythology as well as traditional British and Irish fairy tales.
Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, and both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings”. According to his memoir ‘Surprised by Joy’, Lewis had been baptised 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 Gresham, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of cancer at the age of 45. Lewis died three years after his wife, as the result of renal failure. His death came one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal, as he died on 22 November 1963 – the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died. Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies.