Friday, November 29, 2013

Author C.S. Lewis was born - 1898

Author Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. Throughout his life he retained strong roots to Ireland and took an active interest in Celtic literature and myths. In 1916, Lewis was offered a scholarship at Oxford where he was an excellent student. However, in 1917, his university life was interrupted when he enlisted in the British army. He was transferred to the Somme valley where he took part in trench warfare. In the last months of the war, he was injured by a shell and was sent home to recuperate from his injuries. After the war he returned to Oxford, and completed his degrees before taking up a post teaching English at Magdalen College, Oxford from 1925 to 1954.  

Lewis was a prolific writer and formed a close friendship with other Oxford professors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. They formed an informal group known as the inklings. They would meet at pubs in Oxford such as 'The Eagle and Child' where they would read parts of their novels. Lewis was raised in the Protestant Church of Ireland, but as a teenager lost his faith. After many evening chats with friends, Lewis became a Christian in 1931. He later wrote that he felt compelled to accept evidence of faith.  

He became an influential defender for Christianity through publications such as The Screwtape Letters. He concentrated on a more universal form of Christianity seeking to avoid the sectarianism that was common in his native Northern Ireland. He rarely made any specific reference to a particular denomination of Christianity but sought to reinforce the underlying Christian values shared by all Christian faiths. However, he always remained an Anglican, and to the disappointment of Tolkien, he never converted to Roman Catholicism. His Christian beliefs also influenced his more popular works such as The Chronicles of Narnia. Though he also includes ideas of Roman and Celtic myths, there are underlying Christian notions of sacrifice and Christ like actions. 

After World War II, Lewis became increasingly close to the Joy Gresham, a Jewish Christian convert who would later divorce her alcoholic husband, the writer, William Gresham. She and Lewis were married in April 1956. In Joy, Lewis had found his ideal partner to share his intellectual and spiritual interests. Lewis died on November 22, 1963, in Oxford, England. His death occurred on same date as the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Since Lewis’ death, his books and influence have continued to grow. He has been rated as one of the top English writers of all time and his books have been translated into numerous languages. 
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Literary Legends of the British Isles. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links: 

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