- When CS Lewis was a child he had an imaginary land called “Animal Land” that he would often make up stories about. One of his favourite characters was a heroic mouse named Peter. Sound familiar?
- Lewis insisted to the end that he did not write the Narnia books to be an allegory for the Christian faith. The concept, in fact, he said was “complete moonshine”. Instead he began with images and connected them to tell a story. Unfortunately, JRR Tolkein’s accusation that Lewis wrote a “mere allegory” ended their friendship.
- The image that began The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for Lewis? That of a faun, standing in a snowy wood with an umbrella and some packages.
- Unlike many fantasy series, the Narnia series was unplanned. Lewis didn’t map out a multi-book epic that would carry through, but instead was inspired by new images to write new books every time.
- Despite his fame for writing stories that are so beloved by children everywhere, Lewis didn’t really like kids all that much for most of his life. It wasn’t until he had a group of children stay in his country home to avoid the bombings of WWII (again, sound familiar?) that he started to appreciate them.
- Lucy Pevensie was named after Lewis’ goddaughter, Lucy Barfield. The real Lucy later became very sick, and when word got out, children from all over the world who were touched by her Narnian character wrote her letters. Some letters were written to her directly, some as if she was Lucy Pevensie. Lucy found all the letters to be a great source of comfort in her illness.
- This series has been loved, read, and re-read by children and adults all over the world many times ever. It’s fitting, then, that Lewis felt no story could truly be enjoyed on its first reading, but that the best stories need multiple readings:
We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity . . . has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. … The children understand this well when they ask for the same story over and over again, and in the same words. They want to have again the ‘surprise’ of discovering that what seemed Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother is really the wolf. It is better when you know it is coming: free from the shock of actual surprise you can attend better to the intrinsic surprisingness of the peripeteia.
—Lewis, “On Stories”
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe opens Wednesday December 5th at Pacific Theatre.
Backstage at Pacific Theatre’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with actors Mack Gordon and Kaitlin Williams: