C. S. Lewis as an Infant
In celebration of C. S. Lewis' 117th birthday, I share with you today a brief excerpt from my book, The Professor of Narnia....
In 1954, a group of fifth graders from Maryland wrote to C. S. Lewis to thank him for his Narnia books and ask him questions about the stories and himself. One question they must have had was: “What do you look and sound like?” C. S. Lewis’s answer was: “I’m tall, fat, rather bald, redfaced, double-chinned, black-haired, have a deep voice, and wear glasses for reading.” That is how C. S. Lewis described himself around the time he was writing the following words. …This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.
In those days Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road. In those days, if you were a boy you had to wear a stiff Eton collar every day, and schools were usually nastier than now. But meals were nicer; and as for sweets, I won’t tell you how cheap and good they were, because it would only make your mouth water in vain.Thus begins The Magician’s Nephew, a story set in the time period of C. S. Lewis’s own childhood. The stories of Sherlock Holmes had first appeared in print in 1887. The Bastables were a middle-class family in E. Nesbit’s The Story of the Treasure Seekers, published in 1898, the same year that Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Clive was born on the cold and foggy afternoon of November 29 in a part of Belfast known as Strandtown, in one of a pair of semi-detached houses known as Dundela Villas. (A semi-detached house is one which shares one wall with another house.) The house in which Clive was born was torn down in 1952 and a group of rather drab flats (what Americans call apartments) now stand on the site. Though the house is no longer in existence, there is a plaque on the site which reads:
C.S. Lewis1898 – 1963Author andChristian apologistbornon this site
An apologist is one who gives an apology, or a defense, for something. As you will soon learn, Clive grew up to be a great defender of the Christian faith. But we are getting ahead of ourselves....Earlier this year, I made a pilgrimage of sorts to the land of Lewis' birth. Here are a couple of photos from his birthplace....
I am grateful to God for the birth and life of C. S. Lewis through whom I have learned so much about the Christian faith.