As a result of a scholarship from University College, C. S. Lewis was able to attend Oxford University in 1917, two years after his birth in Belfast. In 1922, he earned a double first in Greats (classical philosophy and history) before enlisting in the army and serving in France. And in 1923, he earned a first in English after returning to school. So, what else should you know about C.S. Lewis’ life at Oxford? Let me tell you in this article.
In 1925, C. S. Lewis was elected a Fellow of Magdalen College and appointed Tutor in English Language and Literature after a brief stint as a philosophy professor. For the rest of his life he was Magdalene College Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
The New Buildings of Magdalen College (constructed in 1740) overlook both the deer park and Addison’s Walk surrounding Magdalen Meadow, where he spent over 30 years of his life. As soon as he made his religious conversion in 1931, he began attending weekly church services at his college’s chapel. During the week, he attended Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry, his parish church, and on Saturdays, he preached at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.
The Kilns, an Edwardian mansion in Oxford’s Headington neighbourhood where Lewis lived from his college days until his death, was Lewis’ final resting place. Let’s discuss C S Lewis at Oxford, his books, and his friendship and rivalry with J. R. R. Tolkien.
C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien Meet at Oxford
Tolkien and Lewis both taught at Oxford University, which is located in the southern English city of Oxford. In 1925, both of them began their careers as educators. The year was 1954 when Lewis enrolled at Cambridge, and the year was 1959 when Tolkien announced his retirement from active teaching and writing. During the 30 years they spent at Oxford, they became inseparable.
Let’s quickly look at what we can find from their time at Oxford in the present day. There is a wealth of information available at the Oxford Tourist Information Centre. To see the C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien sights, you can buy a nice booklet for just £2 or so that provides a detailed walk around Oxford.
From 1925 to 1954, Lewis served as a fellow at Oxford’s Magdalen College before taking a position as Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University.
Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 until 1945 was Tolkien. Also Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College, Oxford, from 1945 until 1959
Members of the Inklings literary discussion group included Lewis and Tolkien. Fantasy writers were inspired by these literary aficionados who lauded the importance of narrative in literature. On Thursday evenings, they convened in Lewis’ quarters on campus to read and discuss various materials, including manuscripts they were working on.
They met for lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Eagle and Child bar, which can be seen here. It’s on St Giles Street, immediately north of St John’s College and across the street. Since the 1600s, the bar has been part of a University College endowment. They sold it to St John’s College in December 2003, which also owns the Lamb and Flag tavern across the street.
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien: A Like-Minded Friendship Rivalry
More than a century ago, Britain was experiencing the true horrors of World War I. C S Lewis at Oxford J R R Tolkien, narnia and friendship rivalry both 19 and 24, were young Englishmen serving in the trenches during the conflict. However, the two did not meet until 1926 during an Oxford University English Faculty meeting at Merton College.
Lewis and Tolkien had a public relationship and rivalry, though it was complicated. The Lord of the Rings might never have seen the light of day if not for his fiend’s constant urging. Similarly, the Silmarillion’s interconnecting maze would have remained a dedicated interest. The force of Tolkien’s influence may be seen in all of Lewis’ writings produced after he met him in 1926.
A love of language and imagination, nourished by a profound and extensive reading of northern myth and fairytale, was the foundation of their friendship. They were both romantics who avoided contemporary poetry. They had both lost their mothers when they were young and had lost the majority of their pals to the horrors of the trenches. Both of them were devout Christians. Tolkien remained constant while Lewis fell in and out of faith. Their most successful writing was founded on their Christian faith.
In terms of literary taste, Tolkien and Lewis were at odds. Narnia was “beyond the realm of my sympathy,” Tolkien conceded, “as much of my writing was outside his.” “An unpleasant and in places terrible piece,” he said of Lewis’ Letters to Malcolm. He gently chastised Jack for using Middle-earth terminology in his own stories. “Lewis was a highly impressionable man,” he said, describing Lewis’ writing as “creaking” and “stiff-jointed,” and suggesting it was unoriginal.
Rivalry in Friendships
Their friendship was deep and meaningful, yet their disagreements and rivalries were legendary. While they frequently praised each other’s published works in public, they were hesitant to do so in private. Tolkien was critical of Lewis’ Narnia books, particularly the religious aspects. He believed the Christian archetypes were far too overt and evident, and that the works’ popularity would encourage heresy.
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