C. S. Lewis, long renowned for his children’s books as well as his Christian apologetics, has been the subject of wide interest since he first stepped-up to the BBC’s microphone during the Second World War. Until now, however, the reasons why this medievalist began writing books for a popular audience, and why these books have continued to be so popular, had not been fully explored. In fact Lewis, who once described himself as by nature an ‘extreme anarchist’, was a critical controversialist in his time-and not to everyone’s liking. Yet, somehow, Lewis’s books directed at children and middlebrow Christians have continued to resonate in the decades since his death in 1963. Stephanie L. Derrick considers why this is the case, and why it is more true in America than in Lewis’s home-country of Britain.
The story of C. S. Lewis’s fame is one that takes us from his childhood in Edwardian Belfast, to the height of international conflict during the 1940s, to the rapid expansion of the paperback market, and on to readers’ experiences in the 1980s and 1990s, and, finally, to London in November 2013, where Lewis was honoured with a stone in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. Derrick shows that, in fact, the author himself was only one actor among many shaping a multi-faceted image. The Fame of C. S. Lewis is the most comprehensive account of Lewis’s popularity to date, drawing on a wealth of fresh material and with much to interest scholars and C. S. Lewis admirers alike.
Reviews and Endorsements
Winner of the Religion: Christianity category of the 2019 International Book Awards
Second Place in the Excellence for Nonfiction Religion Book award from the Religion News Association
“Derrick has given us a striking and important study. It should find a wide readership among historians of Christianity and of 20th-century literature, as well as those interested in the history of the media. Well written, generously produced, and reasonably priced, it deserves an audience outside the academy.” — Peter Webster, Independent Scholar and consultant, Reading Religion
“Derrick drives home her main point that a wide array of “historical, cultural, religious, and social factors” came together to make the fame of C. S. Lewis possible. In this regard, as a reception history of the incredible career of C. S. Lewis and his legacy, the volume succeeds.” — Frank V. Bellizzi, Stone-Campbell Journal