It is reported that only 30 people attended the funeral of legendary author C.S. Lewis. His death occurred on the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago today, Nov. 22, 1963. The media, including in Britain, flooded the news with coverage of the U.S. president's death and that meant that Lewis' passing was not announced until after his funeral, according to Mike Stranks of the C.S. Lewis Jubilee Festival committee in Britain.
Clive Staples Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day, the authors of a website dedicated to Lewis state. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement.
Lewis wrote more than 30 books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. C. S. Lewis's most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics in The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies, according to CSLewis.com, and have been adapted into three major motion pictures.
Today, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis will be honored with a memorial in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.
The Christian Post has compiled a list of facts about Lewis with the help of Diana Pavlac Glyer, who is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University. She has published extensively on Lewis, Tolkien, and the Inklings, including contributions to The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia and C. S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy. Also, helping with the list was Dave Horner, a professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University. Horner is a published writer on Lewis, led tour groups to Lewis' home for the C.S. Lewis Society when he was a student at Oxford and is currently working on a project on Lewis' ethics.
Here are The Top 10 Facts Everyone Should Know About C.S. Lewis below.
1. Lewis was born in Northern Ireland, just outside of Belfast, and he strongly identified with his Irish homeland all of his life.
2. Lewis had a loud laugh and a very wide circle of friends. He was a hearty man with a great sense of humor.
3. He taught English Literature at Magdalen College, Oxford, and some of Lewis' very best books are books of literary criticism.
4. Lewis' earliest ambition was to be numbered among the great poets, and he took great pains to write and rewrite, and rewrite his poems, some even after they were published.
5. Most of what Lewis wrote, he wrote in response to a request or a suggestion or the encouragement of someone else.
6. Lewis cared deeply about people. He gave away much of his income to people in need and he hand-wrote hundreds of thoughtful letters to all who contacted him. He was doing this just days before his death, while suffering in poor health. (As a young girl, Kathy Keller, wife of Tim Keller, popular pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, wrote to Lewis. He wrote back to her just days before he died.)
7. Lewis was a great scholar. His academic books are still required reading at Oxford and Cambridge. They are tough sledding – with sophisticated arguments, untranslated portions of Greek, Latin, Old and Middle English, Norse, and more.
8. Lewis also had a common touch. During WWII, the BBC asked Lewis to give a series of radio broadcasts for the entire British public, explaining what Christianity is (these later became his popular book, Mere Christianity). He wrote children's fantasies that are still treasured by young and old alike, full of characters that reflect Lewis' eye for common folk.
9. He was hugely popular as a teacher – with students. Lewis's Oxford lectures on medieval literature were standing room only, students sitting in the windows. But some professors resented his popularity. Theologians, in particular, didn't appreciate Lewis invading their academic territory – with more success than they had. Nor did his orthodox Christian views win him many academic friends. For these reasons Lewis was never given an academic chair at Oxford, although he was eventually awarded one at Cambridge.
10. Lewis described himself as a "dinosaur." He was trained in ancient philosophy and made his career in medieval and renaissance studies. He saw classical thinking as superior in every respect to modern thought, and took every opportunity to show that this was true.