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Becoming C.S. Lewis (Poe)

SKU 9781433562730


"This excellent work will have readers eagerly anticipating the next volume." --Publishers Weekly

The writings of C. S. Lewis cannot be fully understood apart from a grasp of his formative adolescent years. Unfortunately, many biographies speed over this important season of Lewis's life.

Slowing down to focus on his younger years, this detailed portrait of "Jack" Lewis helps us discover seeds of what would inform his later writings--such as his delight in literature, his key relationships, his suffering and struggles, and his intense pursuit of joy.

The chapters unfold the habits and tastes he developed while at boarding school, in college, and in the army, revealing where we see these themes appear in his works--bringing to life the man readers have come to know as C. S. Lewis. Volume 1 in a trilogy offering a comprehensive view of the life of C. S. Lewis.


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Product Details

  • Cover Type: Hardcover
  • 312 Pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • Publication Date: November 2019
  • ISBN: 9781433562730


“Harry Lee Poe’s biography of Lewis’s early years is an engaging book filled with glimpses of the celebrated author that cannot be found in any other biography of Lewis.”
Lyle W. Dorsett, Director Emeritus, Marion E. Wade Center; Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism Emeritus, Beeson Divinity School; author, And God Came In and Seeking the Secret Place

“‘The Child is father of the Man.’ Anyone who doubts this observation by Wordsworth should read this excellent new biography of C. S. Lewis. Poe goes into great depth, drawing heavily on unpublished sources, recounting the first two decades of Lewis’s life in splendid detail. Even seasoned readers of Lewis will find much that is new and illuminating in this readable biography.”
David C. Downing, Codirector, Marion E. Wade Center

“A unique coming-of-age biography of C. S. Lewis that stands out in revealing how his early life shaped the future Lewis: body, mind, and soul. It vividly captures the whole person of Lewis—not only an aspect of him but also the variety and depth of his defining features. The result is an eye-opening, important, and rich portrait that benefits from the teeming knowledge and thorough research of the author. It includes the often-neglected, lasting significance of the people who impacted the often-solitary young Lewis, with illuminating flash-forwards to the future Lewis.”
Colin Duriez, author, C. S. Lewis: A Biography of Friendship and Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship

“Harry Lee Poe’s Becoming C. S. Lewis breaks new ground in the study of Lewis’s life. Specifically, Poe concentrates on the early years of Lewis’s life—an area largely neglected or glossed over by other biographers—and explores in rich detail the people, ideas, and experiences that shaped Lewis’s adult life. Mining the fertile cache of material available in the Lewis Papers—the eleven-volume archive compiled by Lewis’s brother, Warren—Poe offers convincing arguments about how Lewis’s earliest interests find expression in his adult writings. The themes found later in Lewis’s magisterial works had their inception in Lewis’s youthful writings, particularly in his lifelong correspondence with his boyhood friend Arthur Greeves. Readers intent on obtaining a deeper understanding of the most important Christian writer of the last hundred years will find Becoming C. S. Lewis a welcomed treasure trove.”
Don King, author, C. S. Lewis, PoetPlain to the Inward Eye; and The Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis

“Many fans of C. S. Lewis will savor having so much detail on his early years gathered together in one biography. This portrait of an artist as a young man is based on remarkably rich information that we have concerning Lewis’s formative experiences and influences. Harry Lee Poe adds much helpful context and commentary.”
George M. Marsden, author, C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: A Biography

“Wordsworth famously wrote, ‘The Child is father of the Man.’ To better understand C. S. Lewis’s tremendous achievements later in life—as a writer of imaginative fiction and poetry, a literary critic, and a Christian apologist—we should look to his formative years. Harry Lee Poe’s Becoming C. S. Lewis is a valuable contribution to biographies of Lewis, providing a rich and comprehensive look at Lewis’s early years and his important relationships with figures such as his brother, Warren Lewis, his friend Arthur Greeves, and his tutor W. T. Kirkpatrick.”
Holly Ordway, Professor of English, Houston Baptist University; author, Apologetics and the Christian Imagination

“The young Jack Lewis is the Lewis whom all admirers of the mature C. S. Lewis need to know. We find it highly fitting, then, that Harry Lee Poe, who has long been a devoted guide to Lewis and the Inklings, has chosen to illuminate for us so faithfully the ardent youth who was father to the man.”
Carol and Philip Zaleski, coauthors, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings


Harry Lee Poe (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University, where he has taught a course on C. S. Lewis for over twenty years. He is the author of twenty books, including The Inklings of Oxford and C. S. Lewis Remembered, as well as numerous articles on Lewis and the Inklings. Poe hosts the annual Inklings Weekend in Montreat, North Carolina, and is a regular speaker on Lewis at universities and other venues worldwide.

Table of Contents


  • Young Jack Lewis at Wynyard School: 1908–1910
  • Off to Malvern: 1910–1914
  • Making a Friend: Spring 1914
  • Jack and War Come to Great Bookham: Fall 1914
  • Reading for Kirkpatrick and for Pleasure: 1914
  • War and Romance: 1915
  • A Conflicted Soul: 1916
  • Oxford and War: 1917–19189
  • The End of Youth    


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