Tuesday, June 24, 2014

100 Days Project -- Day 85

The Back Story

I loved the Narnia books when I was growing up; I still have the boxed set that I read when I was 10 or so.

As I got older, I didn't read fantasy as often, though I still love it, and I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and biographies. My love for children's literature, though, hasn't abated, and has evolved into a curiosity about the authors who write it. My book shelf has quite a few books about children's authors and illustrators: The Art of Maurice Sendak, TalkTalk (about E. L. Konigsburg), The Art of Eric Carle, and The Essential Guide to Children's Books and their Creators, for example.

A Netflix envelope arrived two days ago, and in it was "C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia," which tells the true story of the author and how he came to write the Narnia books.
It's not the most exciting movie ever made, and basically is just an English man telling the story of Clive Staples's life against the backdrop of various photos with dramatic music playing in the background. But, for a children's book geek like me, it was quite interesting.

For instance, I didn't know that Clive renamed himself Jack when he was a small boy because he didn't like the name Clive -- imagine that! -- and that is what he went by all his life. I did know he was a professor at Oxford University, but did not know that even after 30 years there and successfully publishing many acclaimed books, they would not make him a full professor. Without his solicitation, Cambridge offered him a position as full professor, and he took it.

I figured he had made a decent chunk of money on his books, and he did....but he gave most of his royalties from the Narnia books to charities, and mainly to ones that served children. He also set up a school for children who could not otherwise afford an education.

He married late in life to an American woman, 20 years his junior, who tragically succumbed to cancer just 4 years after they married.
His mother had died of cancer when he was a boy, and this had really shaped him, so he was perhaps the ideal stepfather to his wife's two sons, David and Douglas, after she died.
The boys' last name was Gresham, from their biological father, whom their mother had divorced because he was an abusive alcoholic. Douglas Gresham now is the head of the C.S. Lewis Foundation.
He was also the co-producer of 2005's "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." I think they did a great job on that movie, especially casting the characters, and you can watch the trailer here.
Watching this has made me realize I haven't seen the second movie, "Prince Caspian." Now that I've seen that trailer, too, guess what's going in my Netflix queue?
Wonderful stories. Thanks to this man.

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