November marks 50 years since the death of C.S. Lewis, among the most beloved Christian authors of the 20th century, renowned for his now-classic works of Christian apologetics, lay theology, literary criticism, children’s fiction (including the Chronicles of Narnia), fiction, essays, and memoirs. To commemorate his death and honor his legacy, upcoming events and books will celebrate his life and work.
Following a November 21 symposium on Lewis held at Westminster Abbey, on the 22nd a memorial to Lewis will be dedicated in the Abbey’s Poet’s Corner. (Lewis died on November 22, 1963—the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated and another renowned British author, Aldous Huxley, died.) On November 23, a conference will be held at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where Lewis taught literature from 1954-63; he previously taught at Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1925-54. The C.S. Lewis Foundation is sponsoring a conference in Houston Nov. 8-10 as well as the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute at Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) July 21-31, 2014. This Friday (November 1), Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., will host a one-day conference, “C.S. Lewis and American Culture,” examining his impact in the U.S. Several conferences and events also were held this past summer and in September.
In 2001, HarperOne acquired the rights to most of Lewis’s Christian adult titles to launch its C.S. Lewis Signature Classics line, which has racked up nearly ten million in unit sales since then, with almost 200,000 copies sold in all formats in the past 12 months alone. Lewis’s most famous apologetics book, Mere Christianity, originally published in the U.S. in 1952, remains the bestselling Signature Classics title, with more than 150,000 copies sold over the past year and lifetime sales of about 18 million in the U.S. The Chronicles of Narnia books (published by Harper’s children’s division) have sold the most of any of his titles and been adapted for the stage, film, radio, and television.
This fall, HarperOne adds several new titles to its C.S. Lewis Collection, including an annotated edition of The Screwtape Letters and seven e-book-only editions of Lewis’s works of criticism and literary essays. HarperCollins announced today the creation of a new e-book platform that will allow it to sell e-book editions of Lewis’s books directly to consumers from the Narnia.com and CSLewis.com Web sites. Harper said it plans to create e-bookstores for other authors as well.
HarperOne is collecting quotes from authors, celebrities, and other fans about how Lewis’s books have influenced them. The quotes will be part of a memorial tribute on the two Lewis Web sites. Earlier this year several books about Lewis were published, including two new biographies, a collection of essays on Lewis’s work, and a critical examination of his thought and intellectual development.