Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to
as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as Jack, was an
Irish-born British novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic,
essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist. He is also known for his
fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of
Narnia and The Space Trilogy.
Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R.
Tolkien, and both authors were leading figures in the English faculty
at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as
the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had
been baptized in the Church of Ireland at birth, but fell away from his
faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other
friends, at the age of 32, Lewis returned to Christianity, becoming "a
very ordinary layman of the Church of England". His conversion had a
profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the
subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.
In 1956, he married the American
writer Joy Gresham, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of
cancer at the age of 45. Lewis died three years after his wife, as the
result of a heart attack. His death came one week before what would have
been his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal, as he
died on 22 November 1963 – the same day that U.S. President John F.
Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day as the death of another famous
author, Aldous Huxley.
Lewis's works have been translated into
more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies over the years.
The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most
and have been popularized on stage, in TV, in radio, and in cinema.