Clive Staples Lewis, more popularly known as C. S. Lewis, was born in 1898 in Belfast, which was still part of Ireland at the time. He went on to study at Oxford University in England and serve in the British Army during World War I before becoming a successful writer.
Beginning in his childhood, Lewis loved to read. Influenced by the works of Beatrix Potter, he at one point developed with his brother an imaginary world called 'Boxen' that was inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. In 1985, a series of stories that Lewis had set in Boxen were published by Collins.
As a teenager, Lewis began experiencing an apparent crisis in his religious beliefs. This would be made worse by the war. In 1931, he returned to Christianity. Among those he consulted about this was J. R. R. Tolkien, who became a prolific writer in his own right. His spiritual journey would be an essential influence on his writings. Lewis and his work have became very popular among Christians, though viewed controversially by some.
The Chronicles of Narnia
During World War II, Lewis sheltered four young children at his home in the English countryside after they had been evacuated from London. After one of the children asked him what was behind a wardrobe in one of the bedrooms, Lewis entertained them with a story about children in a similar situation to theirs who find an entrance to another world. Inspired, Lewis soon began penning a new story.
Published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe featured the Pevensie siblings. The siblings were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, all of whom are evacuated to the countryside home of a professor named Digory Kirke to escape the London Blitz. After arriving, they eventually all end up transported through a wardrobe to a wondrous world called Narnia.
Narnia, which Lewis named after the Italian town Narni, turns out to be land largely filled with talking animals. The world has fallen under the tyrannical rule of a human queen named Jadis, who seeks to destroy the Pevensies because they would seem to be part of a prophecy that would bring about her downfall and the return of Aslan, the great Lion.
Although it was apparently unintentional at first, Lewis decided to make several parallels to the Bible and Christianity. Perhaps most prominent among them are the references to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.
Among other accolades, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would go on to be named by TIME as one of the 100 best English-language novels to be published since 1923. The first sequel, Prince Caspian, was released in 1951. In it, the already-established main characters set out to help the new title character take the throne from the king, his corrupt uncle. The following year featured the third novel in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The Silver Chair and The Horse and His Boy were released in 1953 and 1954, respectively.
In 1955, The Magician's Nephew was published by The Bodley Head. The book served as a prequel. It includes Digory Kirke in his youth and tells of how Jadis took over Narnia and the eventual creation of the wardrobe. The final installment of the series, The Last Battle, was released the following year. It would receive the prestigious Carnegie Medal from the Library Association.
In 1967, ITV aired a ten-part mini-series adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. CBS would air an animated movie adapted from the same book in 1979. It would win an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program.
From 1988 to 1990, the BBC aired three mini-series that were adaptations of Narnia books. The first series, another version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program. Additionally, it won a BAFTA Award and received nominations for three more. The second series adapted both Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and received four BAFTA Award nominations. Finally, The Silver Chair was adapted for the third series, which received three BAFTA Award nominations.
In 2005, Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media released The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Directed by Andrew Adamson, the move starred William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley as the Pevensies. Jadis was portrayed by Tilda Swinton, Digory Kirke was played by Jim Broadbent and Aslan was voiced by Liam Neeson, who had replaced Brian Cox. Additionally, C. S. Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham served as a co-producer and can be heard briefly as a radio announcer.
The movie was a critical and commercial hit. It was the second-highest grossing movie to be released in 2005 in the United States and Canada and the third-highest worldwide. Additionally, it became the 10th-highest grossing theatrical release in Disney's history and the highest in Walden's, and the DVD release was the top-seller of 2006. The movie won an Academy Award for Best Makeup and was nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects. It also won a BAFTA Award for Best Hair and Makeup and was nominated for Best Special Visual Effects and Best Costume Design. Composer Harry Gregson-Williams was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette was nominated for Best Original Song for Wunderkind. Additionally, Gregson-Williams was nominated for a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media and singer-songwriter Imogen Heap was nominated for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for Can't Take It In.
A compilation album entitle Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released by EMI before the movie came out. The album would win a Dove Award from Special Event Album of the Year.
In 2008, Disney and Walden released The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Adamson again directed and Moseley, Popplewell, Keynes, Henley, Neeson and Swinton all returned (Swinton in a decreased role). Ben Barnes was cast as Prince Caspian. Also among the new cast was Warwick Davis, who had previously taken part in the second and third of the BBC Narnia series. Douglas Gresham was again a co-producer and made a cameo. This movie was also a success, financially and critically. It became the 10th-highest grossing of the year.
A third installment, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was released in 2010. This time, Michael Apted directed and 20th Century Fox took Disney's place. Keynes, Henley, Barnes and Neeson all returned with major parts, while Moseley, Popplewell and Swinton appeared in smaller ones. Will Poulter was cast as Eustace Scrubb, a cousin of the Pevensies. Once again, Douglas Gresham made a cameo and served as co-producer. It was 20th Century Fox's highest-grossing release of 2010, one of the few bright points in what was otherwise a largely disappointing year for the studio. The song There's a Place for Us, performed and co-written by Carrie Underwood, received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.
In 2013, The C.S. Lewis Company and The Mark Gordon Company announced that they were planning an adaptation of The Silver Chair.