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Clive Staples Lewis was born in 1898 to Irish parents living in Belfast. Growing up, though neither of his parents were particularly interested in literature, Lewis was fascinated with books and read voraciously. He especially loved stories with anthropomorphic animals, such as Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. He was schooled privately at home until his mother passed away in 1908, and then was sent to various boarding schools for the remainder of his schooling.
During this time, his love for stories grew further. He found himself particularly drawn to mythology, and in particular, Norse and Scandinavian epic narratives such as those preserved in the Icelandic Sagas.
At age 15, Lewis rejected his childhood faith (Irish Anglicanism), disenchanted with a religion which he considered primarily ritualistic and laborious. He declared himself a firm atheist, and commented later that he was both “very angry with God for not existing” yet “equally angry with him for creating a world”. He later described his atheism as being fuelled by the suffering he saw in the world, and his mother’s death.
After finishing high school, Lewis studied at Oxford for several years, with a particular focus on Greek and Norse mythology, and literature. His studies were paused when he briefly served as a soldier in the First World War, but he was able to resume studying after being injured in battle. After graduating from Oxford, he remained as a Fellow and Tutor at his College for many years.
During this time, he met J. R. R. Tolkien, who became a close friend. Through reading many Christian writers’ works and countless conversations with Tolkien, Lewis was converted to Christianity in 1929. He famously described the moment that he was converted, “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
After this conversion experience, C. S. Lewis became a great apologist for the Christian faith, and wrote and spoke extensively on a range of topics, including the reality of God, suffering, and heaven. His books are marked by characteristic wit, commentary on everyday life, and a philosophical angle on all matters.
When his wife passed away in 1960, Lewis was deeply grieved. He kept a journal in which he recorded his experience of grief, which was later pseudonymously published as A Grief Observed.
He passed away two years later, in 1963.
These two new biographies cover Lewis’ life in close detail, drawing often off his letters.
The first volume recounts Lewis’ childhood until his return from the First World War. It pays particular attention to common motifs that appear in his childhood and youth which would become key themes in his later writings.
The sequel covers his life after WWI at Oxford, and his journey as a budding scholar and devout atheist to his conversion.
Both volumes offer readers a unique glimpse at Lewis’s development into one of the most important Christian apologists of the 20th century.
Alistair McGrath’s biography of Lewis, released to mark the 50th anniversary of his death, traces Lewis’ life and legacy. It also pays particular attention to the Narnia books and their influence.
This book considers the deepest questions of life, including topics such as friendship, education, suffering, and God, through the eyes of Lewis. A great resource for any fan of his fiction or non-fiction writings.
It would be hard to write anything about Lewis’ legacy without mentioning Narnia. These timeless, beloved books are filled with adventure, danger, quests, fantastical beasts, and wisdom – and are not just for kids!
C. S. Lewis’ classic defence of the Christian faith was, in fact, adapted from a series of radio talks which Lewis hosted during the Second World War. A commander in the Royal Air Force commented, “The war, the whole of life, everything tended to seem pointless. We needed, many of us, a key to the meaning of the universe. Lewis provided just that.” Mere Christianity still carries that same key to meaning and hope, and is a must-read for Christians today.
Lewis’ autobiography, which traces his atheism, battle with God, reluctant conversion, and journey to finding (surprising) joy in God.
In The Screwtape Letters, Lewis poses as a senior devil writing letters to advise a younger devil how to tempt and lure a new convert away from the faith. The book is, at various times, full of humour, caution, and incisive commentary on the state of this world and our sinful tendencies.
Lewis’ record of his grief following the death of his wife is not for the faint-hearted. It ploughs into the depths of human misery, heartache, and despair before resurfacing with a quiet joy. A wonderful, though very heart-wrenching, read that doesn’t deny the pain of grief, but lands securely on the foundation of the hope we have in God.