I posted on Monday about a cheeky poem that Lewis wrote about Talking Beasts. You can read about it here. One of our long-term readers here at A Pilgrim in Narnia, Susan Call Hutchison, responded by saying how she loved the mice references, especially the “mouse’s Twinkling adroitness.” Susan is a children’s writer, and has a series on church mice (Mrs. Middlejoy, I do believe).
In response, I asked if she had read C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Children where he talks about mice. She hadn’t so I promised to dig it up. There are a few, actually–little cute references to mice and his confession that he was a mouse-fancier. Here is a fun reference to mice and guinea pigs:
I never knew a guinea-pig that took any notice of humans (they take plenty of one another). Of those small animals I think Hamsters are the most amusing–and, to tell you the truth, I’m still fond of mice. But the guinea pigs go well with your learning German. If they talked, I’m sure that is the language they’d speak (letter to Joan, Oct 16, 1955).
My favourite, though, is a letter to he wrote to a little girl who sent him pictures that she drew of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Her name was Hila (not Hida) and she was from New York. She was struck by a reference in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that Aslan goes by other names in other worlds (including ours). Rather than answering her directly, he invites her to put the clues together. Then he promises that four more Narnia books will follow.
In that sense it is an intriguing letter about how Lewis connects Narnia with our world. But it is also a lovely letter, including a bit about mice that is particularly fun. So, for Susan, the authority on church mice, it looks like Lewis was an authority on college mice. I would encourage readers to pick of C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Children, and be sure to check out the Mrs. Middlejoy stories.
June 3rd 1953
Dear Hida (is that right) Newman
Thank you so much for your lovely letter and pictures. I realised at once that the coloured one was not a particular scene but a sort of line-up like what you would have at the very end if it was a play instead of stories. The Dawn Treader is not to be the last: There are to be 4 more, 7 in all. Didn’t you notice that Aslan said nothing about Eustace not going back? I thought the best of your pictures was the one of Mr. Tumnus at the bottom of the letter.
As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world. Think it over and let me know your answer!
Reepicheep in your coloured picture has just the right perky, cheeky expression. I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I have never set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, ‘Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.’
All good wishes,
C. S. Lewis