C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

 

C. S. Lewis was born Clive Staples Lewis on November 29,1898 in Belfast, Ireland, UK. He was the son of Albert James Lewis and Florence Hamilton. He had an elder brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis. His family were devout members of the Church of Ireland, the Anglican faith. Throughout his life, he liked to be called Jack due in part when he was 4 years old, his dog Jacksie was killed by a car. In 1908, his mother died from cancer when he was just 9 years old and his brother was 13 years old. He was sent to Wynyard School in Watford, Hertfordshire by his father for his education. His headmaster a harsh, disciplinarian named Robert Capron. The school was later shut down and the headmaster was committed to a psychiatric hospital. He then attended Campbell College in East Belfast. He was forced to quit due to health problems a few months later. He attended Cherbourg House in Malvern, England. During this time, in 1913, he abandoned his Anglican faith and became an atheist, dabbling in mythology and the occult. That same year in September, he enrolled at Malvern College. He stayed there until June 1914. In 1916, after he was awarded a scholarship at Oxford University, the British Army shipped him to France to fight in World War I (1914-1918). Throughout most of the 1920s, he remained atheist until he was influenced by arguments by his Oxford colleague and friend J. R. R. Tolkien (a devout Catholic) whom he met for the first time on May 11,1926 and the book was The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton (a devout Catholic convert). He at first resisted conversion to Christianity at first. In 1931, due in part to the influence of J. R. R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson (a devout Anglican), Tolkien returned to Christianity. He returned to the Anglican faith, much to the disappointment of Tolkien who hoped Lewis would become Catholic. After his conversion, he was devout in his Anglican faith and was orthodox in teachings. It was after his conversion, he wrote many works which numbered over 30. He was a Christian apologist in his own right. Among his famous works, for fiction included The Screwtape Letters (1942), The Space Trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia, and for non-fiction Christian apologetics included The Problem of Pain (1940), Miracles (1947), and Mere Christianity (1952). A bachelor for most of his life, in the 1950s, he met Joy Davidman Gresham, an American writer of Jewish background and a former Communist, who converted to Christianity due to the influence of Lewis’s books. At the time they met, Gresham was separated from her husband writer William L. Gresham due to his alcoholism, infidelity, and abuse and was living in England with her two sons. After her divorce from Gresham, she married Lewis in a civil marriage on April 23,1956. The marriage was a happy one. Joy wanted a Christian marriage, however, at the time the Church of England forbid marriages to divorcees. However, Lewis’s friend, Reverend Peter Bide performed a Christian marriage at Churchill Hospital on March 21,1957. C. S. Lewis, Joy, her sons, and Lewis’s brother live together as a family until Joy’s cancer which was in remission returned and she died of cancer on July 13,1960. After her death, Lewis raised her two sons as his own. About a year later, in June 1961, Lewis began suffering from nephritis, which resulted in blood poisoning. By 1962, his health began to improve. However, on July 15,1963, he was admitted to the hospital for illness. The next day, he had a heart attack and lapsed in a coma. Surprisingly, he awoke from it at 2 pm on July 17. He was discharged from the hospital, sadly, he was forced to resign from his position at Cambridge University. His health continued to decline  and was diagnosed with end stage-renal failure in mid-November. On November 22,1963, exactly a week before his 65th Birthday, at 5:30 pm, he collapsed in his room and died minutes later. He is interned at Holy Trinity Church in Headington, Oxford, England. C. S. Lewis was a great writer, a devout Anglican, and strongly opposed to abortion. R.I.P. C. S. Lewis (1898-1963).

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