50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death celebrated

Memorials marking the 50th Anniversary of C. S. Lewis’ death have been taking place across the country in the last week.

To mark recognition of his literary achievements, C. S. Lewis has been honoured with a memorial stone in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. The writer died at the age of 64, on the 22nd November 1963.

Though not primarily known for his poetry, Lewis’ memorial lies in the company of renowned literary figures such as Chaucer, Dickens, the Bronte sisters, and John Keats.

The memorial stone in Poets’ Corner is inscribed with words from one of Lewis’ theological lectures, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I can see it but because by it I can see everything else.”

The writer is perhaps most famous for his Chronicles of Narnia series, which has sold around 100 million copies worldwide, however Lewis also wrote several philosophical, religious, and poetic works, including ‘The Allegory of Love’, and ‘The Four Loves’.

To celebrate his life, the ceremony in Westminster Abbey was led by Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, a self-professed fan of the writer, on the 22nd November.

Events have also been taking place in Belfast, Lewis’ birthplace, including a C. S. Lewis trail through East Belfast, and an art exhibition by Jonathan Barry, named ‘Through the Wardrobe’.

Magdalen College have also run events to celebrate the writers’ achievements and remember his contribution to the college as a Fellow from 1925 to 1954.

Lewis won a classical scholarship to University College in 1916, however did not come up to Oxford until 1917, in order to train in the university Officers’ Training Corps during the First World War.

In 1919 he returned to Oxford to read for classical honour moderations, in which he gained a First in 1920. Lewis also achieved a First in English Language and Literature in 1923.

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Magdalen elected him Fellow and tutor in English in 1925, and it was here that he formed the famous writing group named the Inklings, of which J. R. R. Tolkien was a member.

Amongst his other contributions to the University was the Socratic Club, a Christian discussion group founded by Lewis in 1942, and of which he was president until 1954.

The College was represented at the Westminster ceremony by the President and Simon Horobin, Professor of English Language and Literature and Tutorial Fellow at the College.

Magdalen also screened ‘Shadowlands’ on the evening of the 22nd November, a film based on Lewis’ life and partly filmed in the college.

A series of lectures were also hosted at the college, given by world-leading experts on the writer, on the following day; the day was concluded with a special dinner in Hall to mark the occasion.

One student remarked positively on the celebrations, stating that it is good to see Lewis’ wider literary achievements recognised and the memorials in Westminster Abbey updated, as a demonstration that “classics don’t just have to be old.”