You are no doubt aware that C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe is one of the most beloved and successful children’s fantasy books in history. But have you ever wondered what inspired Lewis to write the story? Well it’s a question that has been answered in the book, Of Other Worlds: Essays And Stories, a posthumously published anthology of essays and unpublished stories by Lewis.
In an essay, appropriately titled, It All Began With A Picture, Lewis explains that the story was the product of a picture he had in his mind since he was a teenager. This image, of a Faun in a snowy wood, eventually provided the basis for a well known scene in the book. Below is the full text of the short article.
The Editor has asked me to tell you how I came to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I will try, but you must not believe all that authors tell you about how they wrote their books. This is not because they mean to tell lies. It is because a man writing a story is too excited about the story itself to sit back and notice how he is doing it. In fact, that might stop the works; just as, if you start thinking about how you tie your tie, the next thing is that you find you can’t tie it. And afterwards, when the story is finished, he has forgotten a good deal of what writing it was like.
One thing I am sure of. All my seven Narnian books, and my three science fiction books, began with seeing pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.’
At first I had very little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams of lions about that time. Apart from that, I don’t know where the Lion came from or why He came. But once He was there He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories in after Him.
So you see that, in a sense, I know very little about how this story was born. That is, I don’t know where the pictures came from. And I don’t believe anyone knows exactly how he ‘makes things up’. Making up is a very mysterious thing. When you “have an idea” could you tell anyone exactly how you thought of it?
Of Other Worlds: Essays And Stories
And there you have it. You learn something new and interesting every day. The answer to the question you never thought to ask.
Thanks for reading,