Born in Belfast in 1898, the son of Albert Lewis, a successful lawyer, and Flora Hamilton Lewis, a writer and mathematician, Clive Staples Lewis spent his early childhood in an atmosphere of learning and imagination. His mother tutored him in French and Latin before he was seven; his nurse, Lizzie Endicott, taught him the folktales of Ireland. Clive and his brother, Warren, devoted long, often rainy afternoons to exploring the book-lined corridors of Little Lea, their home. As small children, the brothers invented their own country, Boxen, for which they wrote a four-hundred-year chronicle and which they peopled with animal characters who became subjects of individual stories. These early-childhood adventures were of incalculable influence on Lewis’s long fiction, written almost half a century later.
With his mother’s death from cancer in 1908, Lewis’s life changed drastically and irrevocably. A disconsolate, bewildered Albert Lewis sent his sons to boarding school in England, the first of several cruel experiences before age sixteen that nurtured in Lewis a hatred for public school education. At last persuading his father to place him with the demanding but kind tutor W. T. Kirkpatrick in 1914, Lewis developed his great scholarly talents and won a scholarship to University College, Oxford, two years later. Before taking his entrance exams, however, Lewis was recruited into the army and served as a second lieutenant on the front lines in France during World War I....
(The entire section is 610 words.)