In March of 1949, C. S. Lewis invited a friend named Roger Lancelyn Green to dinner at Magdalen College of Oxford University, where Lewis was a tutor. Green had attended Lewis's lectures a decade earlier, and their friendship had grown over the years. It must have been especially refreshing for Lewis to contemplate an evening of food, wine, and conversation, for his life was miserable at that moment.
He lived with his brother and an elderly woman named Mrs. Moore, whom he often referred to as his motherthough she was not. Both of them were unwell and dependent upon him. Just a few days before his dinner with Green, Lewis had written to an American friend that he was "tied to an invalid," which is what Mrs. Moore had become, confined to bed by arthritis and varicose veins. For her part, Mrs. Moore proclaimed that Lewis was "as good as an extra maid in the house," and she certainly used him as a maid. She seems also to have become obsessive and quarrelsome in her latter years, worried always about her dog and constantly at odds with the domestic help.
Lewis hired two maids to help with cleaning and nursing when he had to be at Magdalen, where he maintained a grueling schedule of lectures, tutorials, and correspondence. But for a time, one of the maids became mentally unstable, and he occasionally had to return home to sort out conflicts the women had with each other and with Mrs. Moore. In 1947, he had been asked by the Marquess of Salisbury to participate in meetings, along with the archbishops of Canterbury and York, to discuss the future of the Church of England (of which Lewis was a member). He had declined: "My mother is old and infirm and I never know when I can, even for a day, get away from my duties as ...1