Book Review: ‘Becoming C.S. Lewis’, by Harry Lee Poe

About the book


Becoming C. S. Lewis (1898–1918), Volume 1: A Biography of Young Jack Lewis

“This excellent work will have readers eagerly anticipating the next volume.” ―Publishers Weekly

The writings of C. S. Lewis cannot be fully understood apart from a grasp of his formative adolescent years. Unfortunately, many biographies speed over this important season of Lewis’s life.

Slowing down to focus on his younger years, this detailed portrait of “Jack” Lewis helps us discover seeds of what would inform his later writings―such as his delight in literature, his key relationships, his suffering and struggles, and his intense pursuit of joy.

The chapters unfold the habits and tastes he developed while at boarding school, in college, and in the army, revealing where we see these themes appear in his works―bringing to life the man readers have come to know as C. S. Lewis. Volume 1 in a trilogy offering a comprehensive view of the life of C. S. Lewis.

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My Review

Becoming C. S. Lewis is truly a fascinating read! I grew up reading the Chronicles of Narnia, and between college and now have enjoyed his Space Trilogy, The Great Divorce, and a variety of non-fiction works. Suffice to say, I’ve read “a few” of his works!

That being said, I can’t say I knew much about Lewis as a person before this read — especially of his childhood. Sure, I knew a handful of the basics, but nothing like what Becoming C. S. Lewis includes!

If the other two books to come in this series are anything like this — detailed, thoughtful, even humorous at times — I am confident the reader will walk away with a deeper knowledge of the man behind Narnia, not to mention what shaped him in his formative years! Lewis by no means experienced an easy life growing up. Poe handles this graciously, not shying away from events but not glamorizing them either.

Footnotes refer the reader back to an extensive bibliography for further study and review as desired. It’s evident Poe himself did a huge amount of research! I feel he succeeds admirably at providing an exhaustive overview of Lewis’s childhood, and am ready for subsequent books to release already. This set will, I’m confident, provide quite the definitive resource on Lewis. An admirable addition to any reader’s bookshelf, especially existing fans of Lewis. Newcomers will certainly find this book approachable as well.

I received a copy of the book from Crossway. All opinions are my own.

About the Author


Harry Lee Poe (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the Charles Colson University Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University, where he has taught a course on C. S. Lewis for over fifteen years. He is the author of The Inklings of Oxford and C. S. Lewis Remembered, as well as numerous articles. Poe hosts regular Inklings Weekend retreats and is a speaker on Lewis at major libraries worldwide.