“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither”
– C.S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis was born on this day in Belfast, Ireland in 1898. Today is the 114th anniversary of his birth.
When he was four years old he adopted the nickname “Jack” (short for “Jacksie”) in honor of a beloved neighborhood dog who got hit by a car and died. As a child he and his brother Warren (also known as Warnie) created a fantasy world with talking animals called “Boxen.”
When Lewis was nine his mother died of cancer. In 1910 he was sent to Campbell College, a boarding school in Belfast. He withdrew after a year because he developed a respiratory condition. In 1913 he attended Malvern College for a year. There he abandoned his Christian faith and became an atheist. The following year he left Malvern and was privately tutored.
Lewis received a scholarship to University College Oxford. He started there in 1916, but took a leave of absence to join the Army when World War One broke out. He was injured at the Battle of Arras on April 15, 1918. After his release from the Army in December of 1919 he went back to Oxford. Where he received Firsts in Greek, Latin, Philosophy, Ancient History and English.
He was appointed Fellow and Tutor of English Literature at Oxford University in 1925 (a position he held until 1954 — for 29 years). In 1954 he became chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge.
In 1931 after an evening of discussing Christianity with J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dawson Lewis converted to Christianity. The following day he and Warnie took a motorcycle ride to the Whipsnade Zoo. ” I did not believe that us Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the Zoo I did.” [Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis]
At Oxford he was one of the founders of the literary group The Inklings.
He wrote more than 30 books including novels, fantasy literature, Christian literature, literary criticism, and essays. He is best known for The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves and Mere Christianity.
C.S. Lewis died on November 22nd, 1963 in England.
- CS Lewis to be honoured with memorial stone at Poet’s Corner (independent.co.uk)
- Putting Christ at the Center: CS Lewis and Apologetics (christianthought.hbu.edu)
- C.S. Lewis to be remembered in Poets’ Corner (gentlewisdom.org)