OXFORD-GUILD-OF-TOUR-GUIDES-Badge23

The Man who created Narnia

On 22nd November 1963 headlines around the world reported events in Dallas, Texas. President John F Kennedy had just been shot as he rode in a motorcade through the city.

A few hours earlier, in a house just outside Oxford, a 64-year-old professor of English Literature breathed his last, his death and that of Aldous Huxley the same day overshadowed by the events in the United States.

The man who passed away exactly 60 years ago was C S Lewis. To adults and children alike, he is pre-eminently the creator of the fantasy world of Narnia. For successive generations, the adventures of the four Pevensie children in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ have opened the door to an imaginative, magical world where humans live alongside talking beasts. The Lion, Aslan, appears at times of need to rescue, guide and protect his Narnian subjects.

The New Building, Magdalen College, Oxford
The Eagle and Child pub, known locally as The Bird and Baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inventor of the Chronicles of Narnia, C S Lewis, was not merely a writer of fantasy. He was also an academic, specialising in medieval and Renaissance English Literature, a university lecturer and teacher, and a preacher and radio broadcaster, known for a series of remarkable and accessible books, such as Mere Christianity, which explain Christian faith and belief.

C S Lewis spent most of his adult life in Oxford. He arrived as an undergraduate at University College in 1917, one of the worst years of the First World War, finding a college “where the mullioned windows are dark with ivy that no one has bothered to cut since the war emptied the rooms they belong to”.

He interrupted his studies for military service, then, after receiving a ‘Blighty’ in northern France in 1918, he returned to Oxford to take two first class degrees and become a Fellow and tutor at Magdalen College, a job which

he was to hold for the next twenty-nine years. Initially rejecting religious belief, it was in his rooms in the New Building of Magdalen that, as he recorded in 'Surprised by Joy’, he “admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

Lewis is also well known as a member of The Inklings, that group of Oxford academics and writers which also included JRR Tolkien, Hugo Dyson and Owen Barfield, who used to meet in The Eagle and Child pub on St Giles on Tuesday lunchtimes - with such regularity than another Oxford writer, Edmund Crispin, had a character in one of his novels say, “There goes Lewis; it must be Tuesday”. Here they read, critiqued and encouraged each other’s works. Tolkien later reflected on the importance of Lewis’ unstinting praise for his own fantasy writing; “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not influence but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience.”

Just before he died, Lewis summed up his life in his final words to his brother, Warren (Warnie) Lewis: “Warnie, I have done all that I was sent into the world to do, and I am ready to go.”

This plaque in memory of C S Lewis is affixed to the wall outside a gate between Deer Park and a bridge leading to Addison’s Walk. It was placed in 1998, marking the centenary of Lewis’s birth. On it is engraved one of Lewis’s poems:

WHAT THE BIRD SAID EARLY IN THE YEAR
I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.
Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year, nor want of rain destroy the peas.
This year time’s nature will no more defeat you,
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.
This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well-worn track.
This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.
Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick! – the gates are drawn apart.

You can easily find a guide to take you on a JRR Tolkien & CS Lewis tour on our "Guides" page, or simply fill in the form and request C S Lewis & JRR Tolkien or Inklings Tour for a magical, themed walk around Oxford.

Share:

More posts

Uncover Oxford With Expert Guides

Our guides are experts in various fields, from history and architecture to literature and culture.

Brian Lowe
Following a career in the Royal Navy and subsequently in professional photography, my deep-rooted interest in history led me to train as an Oxford Guide, and I qualified in 2005. Since then, I have been privileged...
Tabby Lucas
I was born and grew up in Oxford and my family roots in the city date back over 100 years. It would be a pleasure to share with you my love of this beautiful university city by designing a tour specially tailored...
Guy Collins
Oxford is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world, and I would be delighted to show you round and introduce you to the fascinating cast of characters that have shaped its development. My walks cover...
Felicity Lewington
I aim to provide “light bulb” moments of “I didn’t know that”! My tours are a mixture of fun contemporary facts, plus the fascinating history of the ancient city of Oxford. I am flexible, and tailor make my tours...
Erica Kendall
I love taking visitors and residents round this fabulous city. My tours are lively, entertaining and full of fascinating detail and anecdote. History and architecture are my specialisms and I can tailor a tour to...
Verity Tiff
Following a career in Science Education working, with all age groups from reception to adults, including children and young adults with Special Educational Needs I trained as a Blue Badge Guide for the Heart of England...
Susanne Addis
Oxford has been my home of choice for nearly 25 years and I have been a Guide since 2015. My excitement and love for all things Oxford comes to life during my walking tours. I am bilingual English/German and hold...
Anne Roberts
I have a passion and talent for storytelling, and I really enjoy sharing Oxford’s exciting history and traditions with visitors of all ages. I will give you the true stories, rumours and gossip on the university’s...
Nic Linton
Hello. I moved back to ‘the city of dreaming spires’ ten years ago, after twenty years of organising tours throughout China. My international experience means that I am comfortable guiding in English at all levels,...
Iain Stevenson
I was a student here, I read Modern Languages at Jesus College, where I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree (BA), then my MA, Master of Arts. I was at school in Oxford too, and I live in the centre, truly a local. My...
Isabella Underhill
My family roots in Oxford and Oxfordshire go back several generations. I arrived in the city as a child; my mother’s family came to farm in the late 19th century. I spent much of my childhood living first in the city...
Kate Billimore
I enjoy leading general tours around the city, as well as offering specialist tours in Science, Film Sites, the Downton Abbey Era, Basic English, Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland. I am also a trainer of tour guides,...
Peter Woodman
Greetings! I'm Peter, your personal guide to the fascinating world of Oxford. With more than 10 years’ experience leading tours across the UK & Ireland, I'm an expert at connecting with people of all ages and...
Genny Ramirez
My walks weave together the threads that make Oxford unique, from History, politics and wizardry, to science, music and gardens. Together, we'll explore grand university buildings, quiet lanes and secret passages....
Jess Baudet
Hello and Bonjour! My name is Jess and I am a French national living and working in Oxford. I have been here for over ten years, working in tourism; initially at the Visitor Information Centre and now at Oxford University’s...
Martyn Sené
I first came to Oxford as a student and was seduced by this wonderful city; one of the great historic cities of the world. I have lived locally for all but a few years since I graduated. After a career in scientific...
Rob Walters
I have been showing people around Oxford for a good while now and I actually live in the centre of this city that I love. I like all of my tours to be interactive and fun, yet full of interesting facts. You can see...
Sophie Duncan
I graduated in History and Art History in the 1980’s. After a lifetime spent in rural France where our family business welcomed tourists, I returned to Oxford and was delighted to continue working in a historical...
Arabella Campbell
I have lived in the city of Oxford and surrounding area for over 35 years and much enjoy showing visitors around this beautiful city. I have a particular interest in art, architecture and the cultural highlights of...
Rebecca White
I have been working in the travel industry for over 30 years and have had the privilege of escorting tour groups to over 100 countries, mostly during my time working on board cruise ships. I have returned home and...
Bella Henman
I graduated in History and History of Art and worked in publishing before training to become a guide in 2012. I loved learning about the fascinating City and University of Oxford and exploring the beautiful Colleges...
Lucy Gasson
Exploring the hidden curiosities of Oxford is my passion! I have two degrees from Oxford University and I’ve lived here almost 30 years. I’ve also nearly ten years’ experience guiding visitors of all ages and nationalities...
David Crosby
Let me take you on an entertaining, fun, and informative walking tour in the historic heart of Oxford. I have a passion for storytelling and will give you the inside story on the university and town’s traditions and...
William Underhill
An Oxford graduate, my interest in the city’s history and heritage began as a student. On leaving university, I qualified as a barrister but went on to work as a journalist, writing for a wide range of publications...
Lucy Rundle
Hello and welcome! Born and brought up in Oxford, I have a deep-rooted connection to this historic city, and a passion for creating unique and engaging tours. It wasn’t until I returned to Oxford, after a stint abroad...
Sally Jenkins
I studied Modern Languages at Cambridge University, then moved to Oxford, where I trained as a Blue Badge Guide. I have been guiding in this lovely city for many years, and also work as a tour manager overseas. I...
Christine Bainbridge
Let me be your guide through the history of the city and its university, exploring it through the eyes of an astonishing cast of characters from times gone by. Each tour will view the iconic buildings of Oxford’s...
Victoria Bentata Azaz
I am a graduate of both Oxford’s universities with degrees in Modern Languages and in History and give general introductory tours of the City and University as well as specialist tours. My particular interests are...
Guy Fairbank
History fanatic and a bit of an actor, I’ve been a tour guide since 2015. As well as having the pleasure of taking you around the delights of Oxford I’m also a London Blue Badge Guide based in London, so I can help...
Jamie Graham
I enjoy listening to what’s wanted and then delivering my tours with stories, knowledge, humour and in a light hearted way. My experience in the past 5 years includes walking tours of Oxford, lectures, guiding tours...
Bryan Hartley
I first fell in love with Oxford when I was a student here and it has been home for 35 years. It’s a privilege to share my city with visitors from both near and far. I aim to make my tours flexible, informative and...
Sandra Bingham
I love showing visitors around Oxford, its iconic buildings and ancient colleges and sharing stories about its traditions and characters. I have studied at both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University...
Sean Callery
Hello! I have lived in the beautiful Cotswolds for 30 years and I love sharing its stories and sights. I used to write children’s books [search on Amazon for my 60+ publications] and I’m an ex-teacher. I love finding...
Susannah Sallé
I grew up in a village just outside Oxford, spent all my school years here, and after university studies in Leeds, London, Florence and Montpellier, I returned to my roots! After several years’ work in the publishing...
Hannah Field
I was born and grew up in Oxford. Having travelled the world, I returned home and that’s when my passion for this city really blossomed. I realised how lucky I am to live here so I wanted to share my city with other...
Magnus Macfarlane
Each tour for each guest is very special. I aim at being engaging, entertaining, interactive and stimulating. What previous guests say "magnificent in every way" "He has deep insights"  "Oxford comes alive with his...
Elizabeth Hudson Evans
I have been working as a professional Guide in Oxford for 11years. I was born and brought up in Scotland. Previously I was an actress working mostly in the theatre, including London's West End, but gave it up to bring...
Steve Roth
A former journalist, I've spent my life telling stories. I love history; embrace the bizarre; thrill to tales of adventure; and am particularly fond of myths and legends. An experienced Oxford guide, with a friendly,...
Jane Mead
I love showing visitors this amazing city and bringing it alive with stories of the many individuals past & present, real & fictional, who have strolled around its streets, colleges, and quads. I specialise...
Ian Mitchell
On retiring from lecturing at Oxford Brookes University I took history courses at Oxford University and qualified as a Bodleian and Green Badge Guide. I love the fascinating history and glorious beauty of Oxford....
Alastair Lack
I was an undergraduate at University College Oxford where I read history.  I then had a career at the BBC, mainly working for the World Service.  My wife and I moved to Oxford in 2001 when I became Head of Oxford...
Ben Lawson
Oxford and it’s lesser-known stories can definitely raise a smile! I make use of my background in television comedy and radio production with the BBC to create fun and engaging experiences for all ages. I was born...
Helen Smith
I have a history background and a love of literature, art and architecture. I am a qualified guide for Oxford and the Heart of England. I am friendly and flexible, able to tailor tours to different ages and interests,...
Jess Worth
I will help you make the most of your time in Oxford! I've lived here for over 25 years and as an award-winning Green Badge Oxford tour guide, I love sharing my enthusiasm for our stunning city's history, culture...
Vicky Bailey
I've been leading tours for almost 20 years as a very enthusiastic London Blue Badge and now Oxford Green Badge Guide! I'm a real history buff and have written a short book on the kings and queens of this country. My...
Isobel Lewis
I have worked in travel for over 30 years and have a great passion for history, culture and fun. I enjoy entertaining guests with the history but also stories and anecdotes about the people and places that make Oxford...
Sara Fletcher
I am an historian with a passion for the stories of people past and present. My love of Oxford began when I studied at Brasenose College, one of the 39 University colleges. I enjoy spending time here; staying on my...
Joanna Hamilton
Having spent most of my life in Oxford it is a joy to be part of the accredited guiding community. I know all the facts and figures but offer visitors a ‘tailored’ experience. My particular interests might be the...
Scroll to Top

This website uses cookies to help us give visitors a better experience. Read our Privacy Policy here