cover image Becoming C.S. Lewis

Becoming C.S. Lewis

Harry Lee Poe. Crossway, $22.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4335-6273-0

Poe (The Gospel and Its Meaning), professor of faith and culture at Union University, chronicles C.S. Lewis’s first 20 years in this meticulous biography, the first in a planned trilogy. It is the death of Lewis’s mother, when he was nine years old, that Poe asserts caused Lewis (1898–1963) to ponder life’s big questions and the problem of suffering. Poe closely examines Lewis’s education, starting with two years at Wynyard School in England—a miserable place known for beating its students—then short stints at other schools, before, at age 14, studying under William Kirkpatrick, who influenced Lewis’s atheist beliefs (Lewis’s conversion to Christianity didn’t occur until his 30s). Because of a genetic defect with his thumbs, Lewis was clumsy and others bullied him for being bad at sports and activities. He didn’t have any friends until age 16, when he met fellow student Arthur Greeves, whom Lewis began to open up to. Much of Lewis’s personal life (including details of his sexual desires) has been pieced together by Poe through his letters to Greeves. As Lewis’s knowledge of literature grew, and as he immersed himself in Norse mythology, fantasy, and epic poetry, readers can see how his ideas for his books began to form. This excellent work will have readers eagerly anticipating the next volume. (Nov.)