A Man and His Myths

In 1949, the year he finished writing “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” C. S. Lewis was leading at least four different lives. His reputation as a Christian apologist had already been launched with several books and a series of BBC radio speeches. He was a charismatic Oxford professor, an expert in Milton and Spenser. He was a generous host who presided over long, drunken nights of bawdy talk and badinage. And he was the head of a household that, even by today’s standards, would be considered unconventional. His domestic partner for nearly three decades was a woman 25 years his senior, whom he called “my mother,” but who was not, in fact, his mother. In 1949, Janie Moore was in declining health and crankier than ever. “I am,” wrote Lewis at the time, “a man in chains.”