Last week I traveled to Oxford
to visit the home of C.S. Lewis,
who is famously known for writing
'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'

Today,
his home 'The Kilns'
is not a museum but a residence
that houses visiting scholars

So many fun things to tell you,
but I'll try to stick to just a few...


Having lost his bedroom key,
C.S. Lewis had to enter & exit his bedroom by the exterior stairs


Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1898
and was also known as 'Jack' in memory of his dog

He was a professor at Oxford and Cambridge Universities
in Medieval and Renaissance Literature

Lewis knew many foreign languages
including Norse, Greek, and Latin

He would play Scrabble with his brother
and wife with two sets of tiles
- words in any foreign language were permissible -


Dining room where they played Scrabble


C.S. Lewis loved his house, The Kilns

As he married later in life, he had had quite the bachelor pad
that was 'held up by books and cobwebs'


Where C.S. Lewis chatted and smoked cigarettes with friends in his home


With the help of photos,
the C.S. Lewis Foundation decided
to restore the house as to how it looked during WWII,
including blackout curtains

You may remember
the four children in 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe'
sent to the countryside home of an old professor
to find safety during WWII

Likewise, C.S. Lewis housed 4 children (all girls) during the war




This is where C.S. Lewis most likely wrote his fictional books
(his nonfiction books probably were written in his office on campus)

From this window, C.S. Lewis would have viewed the nearby pond and woods
which were likely inspirations for his Narnia setting

Interestingly, he did not use a typewriter,
but dipped his pen into an inkwell

He claimed that during that pause to dip his pen
came his greatest creativity

Although best known for 'The Chronicles of Narnia' written for children,
Lewis wrote 47 works of non-fiction, 11 fiction, and 4 poetry collections




One of his closest friends was J.R.R. Tolkien
who wrote 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'

Both men were professors at Oxford University,
served during WWI
and wrote during WWII

They were passionate about words, languages, myths, and their religious faith
(Tolkien worked for the Oxford English Dictionary
defining words beginning with the letter 'W'
and later was a codebreaker during WWII)

With unusual common interests
and fairy-tale success,
they were two peas in a pod, really

In fact, it was Tolkien who influenced atheist Lewis to become a Christian


Pond and woods on C.S. Lewis's property


'The Chronicles of Narnia' series and 'The Lord of the Rings'
hold elements from fairy tales and mythology from other cultures
including Norse, Roman, Greek and Persian

Lewis, Tolkien, and a few other fellow writers
gathered at this pub weekly to discuss their current works

They called themselves the 'Inklings'


aka 'The Bird And The Baby' Pub


In this pub
the Inklings talked, drank, and shared their latest writing projects,
providing constructive criticism of each others work
from 1939 - 1962

Lewis's 'Screwtape Letters' and Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings'
were brought to the table here




C.S. Lewis died fifty years ago on November 22nd,
the same day President Kennedy was assassinated
and author Aldous Huxley of 'Brave New World' died

After Lewis died,
his furniture and possessions were auctioned off uneventfully
and the multiple acre estate was sold off

Today, 'The Kilns' is no longer a house in the country
but in the middle of a working class neighborhood in Oxford

His pond and woods are open to the public as a Wildlife Trust nature reserve

On November 22nd of this year,
a memorial stone will be placed in C.S. Lewis's honor at
Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey
in the good company of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen


Fine art print for sale via Jane Heinrichs


And to think this is how it all started...

''The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella
and parcels in a snowy wood.
This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen.
Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself,
'Let's try to make a story about it'.''
- C.S. Lewis

He is such a great story

- photos by me -

Read more about children evacuated during WWII here
Tours by appointment only, here
Source: C.S.Lewis FoundationWikipediaHuffington Post
(an unsponsored post)

 
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