"He was a heavily built man who looked about forty, with a fleshy oval face and a ruddy complexion. His black hair had retreated from his forehead, which made him especially imposing. I knew nothing about him, except that he was the college English tutor. I did not know that he was the best lecturer in the department, nor had I read the only book that he had published under his own name (hardly anyone had). Even after I had been taught by him for three years, it never entered my mind that he could one day become an author whose books would sell at the rate of about two million copies a year. Since he never spoke of religion while I was his pupil, or until we had become friends 15 years later, it would have seemed incredible that he would become the means of bringing many back to the Christian faith."

Even to his best biographer and longtime friend George Sayer, Clive Staples Lewis was a surprise and a mystery.

As J. R. R. Tolkien advised Sayer, "You'll never get to the bottom of him." But understanding or even fully agreeing with Lewis have never been prerequisites to enjoying and admiring him.

His books continue to sell extremely well (the Chronicles of Narnia set, for example, is among Amazon.com's top 200 titles), and many readers rate him as the most influential writer in their lives. Quite a feat for a man who long disparaged "the Christian mythology" and regarded God as "My Enemy."

Lewis was born into a bookish family of Protestants in Belfast, Ireland.

"There were books in the study, books in the dining room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds," Lewis remembered, and none were off ...

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