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C. S. Lewis: 14 Biographical Facts

Here are 14 facts about C. S. Lewis that you may or may not have known:

1. Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, on 29 November 1898.

2. Shortly after his dog Jacksie was killed by a car in 1902, Lewis decided that his name was now ‘Jacksie', later becoming Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life.

3. In about 1905, his family moved into ‘Little Lea’, in the Strandtown area of East Belfast, which became his childhood home.

4. He had an elder brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis, known as ‘Warnie’.

5. He and his brother both liked anthropomorphic animals, often writing and illustrating their own animal stories. Together they created the world of Boxen, inhabited and run by animals. Lewis loved to read.

6. While he was still a child, Lewis’s mother died of cancer.

7. Soon after his mother’s death, Lewis was sent to the Wynyard School in Watford, Hertfordshire, but the school was closed not long after Lewis went there due to a lack of pupils. Robert ‘Oldie’ Capron, the Headmaster, was soon after committed to a psychiatric hospital.

8. As well as his interest in Norse, Greek, and, later, Irish mythology and literature, Lewis developed a particular fondness for W. B. Yeats, in part because Yeats's drew on Ireland's Celtic heritage in his poetry.

9. Lewis actually met Yeats twice in 1921 since Yeats had moved to Oxford. Lewis wrote: ‘I am often surprised to find how utterly ignored Yeats is among the men I have met: perhaps his appeal is purely Irish – if so, then thank the gods that I am Irish.’

10. On 15 April 1918, he was wounded and two of his colleagues were killed by ‘friendly fire’, a British shell that was mis-aimed. During his convalescence, Lewis suffered from depression and homesickness but on recovery in October, he was assigned to duty in Andover, England.

11. After the war, Lewis received a First in Honour Moderations (Greek and Latin Literature), then in 1922 a First in Greats (Philosophy and Ancient History), and a First in English in 1923.

12. While undergoing army training, Lewis shared a room with another cadet, Edward Courtnay Francis ‘Paddy’ Moore (1898–1918). They made a mutual pact together that if either died during the war, the survivor would take care of both their families. Paddy was killed in action in 1918. Lewis kept his promise and a friendship quickly grew up between Lewis, who was eighteen when they met, and Jane King Moore, to whom Lewis had been introduced earlier, who was forty-five.

13. Influenced by arguments with his Oxford colleague and friend J. R. R. Tolkien, as well as by the book The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton, Lewis slowly re-embraced Christianity.

14. Lewis won a triple first at Oxford, then taught as a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1954, and later was the first Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University and a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He argued that there was no such thing as an English Renaissance and concentrated on the later Middle Ages, especially its use of allegory. His The Allegory of Love (1936) helped to renew the study of late medieval narratives like the Roman de la Rose.


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