CS Lewis biography

C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis, also known as Jack was born in the Northern Irish town of Belfast in 1898. He was one of two boys born to his father Albert J. Lewis and his mother Florence Augusta Hamilton Lewis, his brother Warren Hamilton Lewis was born in 1895. His upbringing was comfortable and the library of the family home was full of books that the young Lewis enjoyed reading. CS Lewis endured as difficult as year as can be imaged when, in 1908, his mother, father and brother all died.

After Lewis's mother's death in 1908, he was sent to boarding school in England. CS Lewis attended Oxford University between April 1917 and September 1917 but the arrival of his 19th birthday and the fact that the the First World War was still raging saw CS Lewis join the front line and witness that horror that was the Somme. He was wounded during the Battle of Arras in April 1918 and was assigned in Andover, England until the end of the war. He was discharged from the armed forces in December 1919.

CS Lewis returned to Oxford University to study Greek, English and Latin literature plus philosophy and ancient history in which he graduated with first class honours. It was during this time at Oxford that he became a good friend of a certain Professor JRR Tolkien and they set up a literature group together called "The Inklings". After spending twenty nine years at Oxford University he became, in 1955, a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University.

In 1933, CS Lewis had his first book published, it was entitled Pilgrim's Regress and this was a tale of his spiritual faith. The Allegory of Love followed in 1936 and Out of the Silent Planet in 1938. The Second World War (1939 - 1945) then followed.

In the period between 1950 and 1956, Lewis wrote the books that he will always be best remembered for, The Chronicles of Narnia, which contained six books which began with the publication of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and was completed by The Last Battle. These books have sold over 100 million copies and are amongst the most loved in children's fiction.

After the publication of The Last Battle in 1956 he married his wife Joy. Helen Joy Davidman was an American writer, communist and athiest. It was thought at the time that the marriage between Joy and CS Lewis was a marriage of convenience as it allowed Joy to claim UK citizenship and avoid deportation. However, the marriage proved strong and in time they sought a Christian marriage, their original marriage had been civil. The Christian marriage was performed beside Joy's hospital bed and the 21st March 1956 with time of an essense due to Joy's poor health. Although Joy did recover for a while she died four years later.

Joy died of cancer in 1960 and Lewis's own health also began to suffer. He died in 1963, aged 64, on the same day as President J. F. Kennedy.

CS Lewis inspiration

In 1916 CS Lewis first read Phantastes by George MacDonald which had a profound effect on his faith and his writing due to its deep sense of the holy.

CS Lewis timeline

  • 1925 - elected Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford
  • 1929 - became a theist
  • 1931 - became a Christian following a conversation with JRR Tolkien
  • 1937 - received the Gollancz Memorial Prize for Literature for The Allegory of Love
  • 1946 - awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of St. Andrews
  • 1952 - awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by Laval University, Quebec
  • 1956 - married Joy Davidman, who at the time was suffering from cancer and thought to be near death. In this year Lewis won the Carnegie Medal for The Last Battle
  • 1958 - awarded the Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford
  • 1959 - awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by the University of Manchester.
  • 1960 - Joy died of cancer on July the 13th, aged 45
  • 1963 - CS Lewis died one week before his 65th birthday on Friday the 22nd of November, the very same day that President Kennedy was assassinated. He was laid to rest within the grounds of Holy Trinity Church, Oxford

CS Lewis Foundation ... Living the Legacy - Inspired by the life and legacy of C.S. Lewis, our mission is to advance the renewal of Christian thought and creative expression throughout the world of learning and the culture at large.