A Life of C.S. Lewis in 20 Minutes: Videos, Timelines, and Resource Articles (Throwback Thursday)

At A Pilgrim in Narnia, we have an occasional feature called “Throwback Thursday.” By raiding either my own blog-hoard or someone else’s, I find a blog post from the past and throw it back out into the digital world. This might be an idea or book that is now relevant again, or a concept I’d like to think about more, or even “an oldie but a goodie” that I think needs a bit of spin time.

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I am returning to the story of C.S. Lewis’s life. I suppose I am always returning there. I find it compelling to think about his fiction in tandem with his work and letters and experiences. My most recent article was, in a sense, retelling the story of an aspect of Lewis’ life–his relationship with T.S. Eliot’s poetry and public works–with a note from J.R.R. Tolkien about the person of Lewis that we might not know about from his own autobiography or letters. As a couple of “timeline” posts and other biography articles continue to be popular, I thought I would bring them together for today’s Throwback Thursday feature.

Whenever I have done talks and fireside chats about C.S. Lewis’ life, it usually takes me an hour or so to capture an outline of the live that Lewis lived. A recent lecture where I walked through Lewis’ life using his own words–his letters, diaries, prefaces, autobiographical notes, and his memoirs–took 100 minutes. As someone who lived a rich life, writing book after book that changed the way we think … there just always seems a lot to say.

However, what about an introduction for those who are new to Lewis’ works or just want a little background to the person who wrote the Narnian chronicles they love or who inspired them to study Milton or Dante in new ways? My challenge, then, was to create a 20-minute version of this life, one that gives an outline of the whole without losing Lewis’ large personality.

To create the kind of focus I wanted, I made a timeline. As I did with my previous “Timeline of C.S. Lewis’ Major Talks,” I used JBS Timeline’s app to capture key moments in Lewis’ life that would allow us about 20 minutes of conversation.

As you can imagine, there are challenges in selecting out just a few key moments that capture Lewis’ life for readers and students–even when covering just the major events! However, it is a visually tight presentation. Unfortunately, JBS Timeline is not yet embeddable in WordPress, but you can click here to get “A Life of C.S. Lewis Timeline.”

I then used this timeline to create a video talk, and I think it worked pretty well! You can click here to see the entire 20-minute lecture.

This video and timeline are part of a series of C.S. Lewis biography resources here at A Pilgrim in Narnia. For example, you can check out my “5 Biographies of CS Lewis for 5 Seasons: A 10 Minute Book Talk“:

In a recent series on Lewis studies, I went further into some of the more recent biographies with my piece, “Good C.S. Lewis Studies Books That Did Not Win the Mythopoeic Award: Part 2: C.S. Lewis Biographies,” which includes another 6 biographical resources that might interest you–most of them fairly accessible. And you should check out my “5 Affordable Ways to Purchase Digital Books By and About C.S. Lewis” and “5 Ways to Find Open Source Academic Research on C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings” posts. It is also important to think of the work of Walter Hooper, who I call in this legacy piece, “C.S. Lewis’ Better Than Boswell.”

What follows are some other blog posts and articles that I have written about C.S. Lewis’ life.

I always love when Lewis shares his autobiography accidentally. He does this all the time in his nearly four thousand published letters, but also in prefaces and dust-jacket descriptions. Because C.S. Lewis keeps telling his own story (as I argue in this piece), here are a few resources that come to accidentally, as it were:

From time to time, I have blogged about the critical turns in C.S. Lewis’ life. Here are some of those articles:

As you can see from this list, I believe that Lewis’ imaginative and literary awakenings are critical parts of his life story. You can see these outlined in “The Periods of C.S. Lewis’ Literary Life.” Among these moments are the tributes and encouragement of Lewis’ friends and students. Here are some examples:

Finally, by far my most popular C.S. Lewis video is my Lecture, “A Grief Observed, with C.S. Lewis.” It is a little less about biography and more about Lewis’ reflection on his experiences of loss and grief, but I think it is still a valuable resource.


About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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8 Responses to A Life of C.S. Lewis in 20 Minutes: Videos, Timelines, and Resource Articles (Throwback Thursday)

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