C.S. Lewis

Literary Birthday – 29 November – C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis was born 29 November 1898, and died 22 November 1963.

Why C.S. Lewis became a writer

‘What drove me to write was the extreme manual clumsiness from which I have always suffered. I attribute it to a physical defect which my brother I both inherited from our father; we have only one joint in the thumb. The upper joint (that furthest from the nail) is visible, but it is a mere sham; we cannot bend it. But whatever the cause, nature laid on me from birth an utter incapacity to make anything. With pencil and pen I was handy enough, and I can still tie as good a bow as ever lay on a man’s collar; but with a tool or a bat or a gun, a sleeve link or corkscrew, I have always been unteachable. It was this that forced me to write.

I longed to make things, ships, houses, engines. Many sheets of cardboard and pairs of scissors I spoiled, only to turn from my hopeless failures in tears. As a last resource, I was driven to write stories instead; little dreaming to what a world of happiness I was being admitted. You can do more with a castle in a story than with the best cardboard castle that ever stood on a nursery table.’

From Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life.

C. S. Lewis Quotes

  1. I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.
  2. Friendship… is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’
  3. You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
  4. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
  5. Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.
  6. A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.
  7. Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.
  8. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
  9. Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.

C. S. Lewis was a British novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, essayist, and lay theologian from Belfast, Ireland. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends who served on the English faculty at Oxford University. Both were active in the Oxford literary group known as the ‘Inklings’. In 1956, he married the American writer Joy Davidman with whom he shared a great love. She died four years later of cancer. The lines below come from Lewis’s memoir, A Grief Observed. ‘Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.’

Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have been popularised on stage, TV, radio, and cinema.

Suggested reading: C. S. Lewis’s 5 Rules For Writers



Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 29th November 2012