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"I did not say to myself, 'Let us represent Jesus as he really is in our world by a lion in Narnia.' I said, 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a man in our world, became a lion there, and then imagine what would happen.' "
Author Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, on November 29, 1898, to Flora August Hamilton Lewis and Albert J. Lewis. As a toddler, Clive declared that his name was Jack, which is what he was called by family and friends thenceforth. He was close to his older brother Warren and the two spent much time together as children. Lewis was enraptured by fantastic animals and tales of gallantry, and hence the brothers created the imaginary land of Boxen, complete with an intricate history that served them for years.
Lewis's mother died when he was 10, and he went on to receive his pre-college education at boarding schools and from a tutor. During WWI, he served with the English army and was sent home after being wounded by shrapnel. He then chose to live as a surrogate son with Janie Moore, the mother of a friend of Lewis's who was killed in the war.
Lewis graduated from Oxford University with a focus on literature and classic philosophy, and in 1925 was awarded a fellowship teaching position at Magdalen College, which was part of the university. There, he also joined the group known as The Inklings, an informal collective of writers and intellectuals who counted among their members Lewis's brother, Warren Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. It was through conversations with group members that Lewis found himself re-embracing Christianity after having become disillusioned with the faith as a youth. He would go on to become renowned for his rich apologist texts, where he explained his spiritual beliefs via platforms of logic and philosophy.
Lewis began publishing work in the mid-1920s with his first book, the satirical Dymer (1926). After penning other titles—including The Allegory of Love (1936), for which he won the Hawthornden Prize—he released in 1938 his first sci-fi work, Out of the Silent Planet, the first of a trilogy which dealt sub-textually with concepts of sin and desire. Later, during World War II, Lewis gave highly popular radio broadcasts on Christianity which won many converts; his speeches were collected in the work Mere Christianity.
During the '50s, Lewis started to publish the seven books that would comprise The Chronicles of Narnia children's series, with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) being the first release. The story focused on four siblings who, during wartime, walk through an armoire to enter the magical world of Narnia, a land resplendent with mythical creatures and talking animals. Different parts of the series represented a variety of Biblical themes; one prominent character is Aslan, a lion and the ruler of Narnia, who has also been interpreted as a Jesus Christ figure.
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