Category Archives: Education

What has gone wrong with education especially in the UK and how to fix it.

American Football



Various forms of football have been played since Ancient Roman times. There were huge differences between the varieties of football. But they all had certain things in common. All of them involved an inflated ball as opposed to a hard ball. They were all invasions games within a pitch defined by sidelines.

Wars of the Roses



The name ‘Wars of the Roses’ was invented by Sir Walter Scott in his 19th century novel Geierstein. The Wars of the Roses lasted from 1455 to roughly 1485. There is some debate as to when exactly these wars ended.

In the 14th century Edward III reigned. He had five sons. Four of them had descendants. The descendants of these four fought against each other. That is what the Wars of the Roses is about. Different factions of the English Royal Family fighting against each other.

There were four sons but only two sides. How so? This is because sometimes cousins married each other. That does not mean first cousins but it could be second cousins or third cousins. First cousins share the same grandparents. Second cousins share the same great-grandparents, third cousins share the same great-great-grandparents and so forth.

Henry VI became king in 1422. He was 9 months old. His father Henry V has been known as a great warrior king. Henry VI’s mother was Catherine de Valois who was a French princess. Henry VI was proclaimed King of England and King of France. Henry VI also had another title : the Duke of Lancaster.

Henry VI is the only man whose writ ever ran in both the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France. As he was a child authority exercise had to be exercised on his behalf by his paternal uncles.

Charles VII was the paternal uncle of Henry VI. Charles VII claimed to be the rightful King of France. His father Charles VI had been King of France. Charles VII organised a fightback against the English in France and began to take back much of the country.

Henry VI was crowned King of France in Notre Dame Cathedral Paris. However, kings of France are not crowned at Paris. They are crowned at Rheims. But Rheims had fallen into the hands of Charles VII therefore Henry VI was unable to go there. Some held that Henry VI’s coronation in France was invalid. He married a French noblewoman named Margaret of Anjou. She was a domineering woman and brought many courtiers from France who made themselves unpopular. She was obliged to take up the reins of government as it became obvious that her husband was suffering from a psychiatric disorder. After several years of marriage she and her husband had no children. Questions were asked.

By the 1450s it was clear that Henry’s was mentally infirm. His grandfather Charles VI of France had also been afflicted with insanity. Henry VI suffered transient attacks of mental illness. His psychotic episodes started to become longer and more severe. His episodes of lucidity grew briefer and less pronounced.

In 1453 Margaret of Anjou was delivered of a bonny baby boy. The royal imp was known as Edward of Westminster.

Richard Duke of York was Henry VI’s distant cousin. They shared a common ancestor – Edward III.  The Duke of York owned very extensive landed estates in South Wales and the English Midlands. The Richard Duke of York thought that Henry VI was incapable of discharging his kingly functions. Therefore he wished to exercises governmental functions on behalf of the monarch.  Richard of York had himself declared Lord Protector. He was empowered to carry out executive functions on behalf of the king since the king was unable to do so. When the monarch died he, the Duke of York, should reign. Edward of Westminster – the son of Henry VI – ought to be excluded from the succession.

Those who supported the Duke of York were called Yorkists. Those who backed Henry VI were called Lancastrians.

The Duke of York’s proposal excited much controversy.  In 1455 the king returned to sanity. He realised what had happened and swore to depose Richard of York from his office as Lord Protector. Fighting broke out. At the First Battle of St Albans Henry VI was bested. The king was taken prisoner and a number of important Lancastrians were slain.

The Duke of York therefore continued to rule as Lord Protector. Margaret of Anjou remained at liberty. She wished to fight on. In 1459 she made at attempt to oust the duke. The Duke of York fled to France.

The Earl of Warwick was a very prominent nobleman. He was known as kingmaker Warwick. Whoever he backed became king. Lord Warwick gathered soldiers at Calais – the nearest town in France to England. He used Calais as his springboard to invade England. Warwick defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Northampton. Henry VI was captured once again.

The Duke of York felt it safe to return to the Realm of England. He was proclaimed Lord Protector of the Realm again. Margaret of Anjou had still not given up hope. She marshalled forces in northern England.

In 1460 fighting broke out afresh. Richard of York marched north to engage the Lancastrians. In December 1460 they fought the Battle of Wakefield. Richard of York was killed and so was one of his sons Edmund. The Lancastrians were buoyed up by this tremendous success. They moved south. They won the Second Battle of St Albans and freed Henry VI.  Despite this they did not manage to take London. The Lancastrians then retreated north.

Richard of York’s son was Edward IV. Upon the death of Richard of York his son automatically became Duke of York. He had himself proclaimed King Edward IV. As Edward IV controlled London he was able to do this. There were now two men who both claimed to be king. Edward IV did not follow his father’s old policy of controlling the country as Lord Protector and waiting for Henry VI to die.

Edward IV struck north determined to finish off the Lancastrians. In March 1461 the Yorkists and Lancastrians fought the Battle of Towton on a very snowy Palm Sunday. Up to 28 000 men were killed in one day! It was the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. 28 000 people represented 1% of the population of England. It was 2% of the male population. Of military age males it was 4%. However, the death toll is probably exaggerated even if not by much. Even if the death toll was considerably less it was a huge blow even to the victors.

The victory at Towton secured Edward IV position. In 1464 some Lancastrians rebelled but were put down by the Yorkists quite easily. Henry VI was a captive held in the Tower of London.

The Earl of Warwick had been crucial to Edward IV’s success. However, after 1464 relations between the two men became strained.

Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville in secret. When the marriage was announced many people disapproved. The king began to appoint his wife’s relatives to high office. Lord Warwick felt he was denied the recognition that he deserved.

Warwick negotiated with George the Duke of Clarence. Warwick’s plan was to get the Duke of Clarence to marry Warwick’s daughter Isbael Neville. Lord Warwick would overthrow Edward IV and replaced Edward IV with his younger brother the Duke of Clarence. However, the plot was discovered. The duke was executed on the orders of his brother.  Lord Warwick’s plan had minimal support. He fled for his life. He sailed to France and offered his services to Margaret of ANjou. This was a coup. The doughty warrior had gone over the Lancastrian side.

In 1471 Lord Warwick led a Lancastrian army back to England. However, he lost the Battle of Barnet where Warwick was killed. In May 1471 there was another major Yorkist victory at Tewkesbury.






Greek Mythology



In Ancient Greece people believed in a religion which is no longer practised. The group of gods and goddesses were called the pantheon. Pantheon means ‘all gods’ in Greek. A goddess is a female god.

The Ancient Greek notion of a god or a goddess was not a moral force. Gods and goddesses could be petty, mean minded, dishonest and have all the same vices as humans. The Greeks believed that the pantheon had bodies. A god could have a romantic relationship with a woman. A goddess could have a romantic relationship with a man. The gods were immortal.

If a child was born as a result of a relationship between a god and a mortal the child was a demigod.

The pantheon lived atop Mount Olympus. That is the highest mountain in Greece. They lived among the clouds. They ate ambrosia. The gods and goddesses had ichor flowing in their veins – a mixture of fire and gold. The gods and goddesses had access to elixir – a magic potion which meant they never aged.

Every four years at the foot of Mount Olympus games took place. A series of these games was called the Olympiad or the Olympic Games. These games were an act of worship. Prayers were offered.

There were several other sets of games in other areas of Greece. But the Olympics were the most famous one.

Zeus was the King of the Gods. His wife was Hera. The gods were descended from Chronos which means ‘time’ in Greek. The word Chronos gives us words such as chronicle and synchronise, chronology.

Zeus was a bearded old man. Despite his age he was not decrepit. He could walk upright and was physically vigorous. The Christian image of god the Father is like Zeus.

Hermes was the messenger of the god. He had wings on his heels so he could travel very fast.

Aphrodite was the goddess of romantic love. She out of a pearl.

There were nymphs. These were nubile ladies who appeared fully grown. They were not born. They simply turned up miraculously perfectly formed. They never aged. The nymphs hung around the beach. There was one nymph who irked a god. Her name was Echo. She was cursed by the god. Echo was punished by being unable to say her own words. She could only repeat the words of others. This is how the Greeks explained the echo effect.

Athena was the goddess of culture. She was also the patroness of the City of Athens. She is sometimes called ‘Athena Nike’. The word ‘nike’ means victory. Therefore the name Nicholas means ‘victory to the people’.

Ares was the god of war. He had a head like a ram with horns.

The god of animals was Pan. His name means ‘all’ because he controlled all animals. The fear that the sight of pan induces is called ‘panic’.

Poseidon was the god of the sea. He lived in the sea and had seaweed for hair.

Morpheus was the god of sleep. If you are sleep you are said to be ‘in the arms of Morpheus’.

The Greeks treated the gods and goddesses almost like services. It was like a marketplace. To get good luck the Greeks would propitiate the gods and goddesses. They would pray and offer sacrifices.

The statues of gods and goddesses were housed in temples. Sacrifices of animals were made on the steps of the temple.

The Greeks believed in Muses. A muse was a gorgeous young woman who personified an artistic talent like poetry, rhetoric, music, painting etc… These days a ‘muse’ is someone or something you think about to inspire you do create some art: to compose a poem, draw a picture or compose music. Thw word ‘music’ comes from ‘muse’. ‘Music’ means ‘of a muse’.

When people died Charon ferried them across the River Styx if they were wicked. These bad peopled lived in Hades which is sometimes called the Underworld. They were punished. Sisyphus was punished by having to roll a rock to the top of a hill. Every time he got there and the rock then rolled to the bottom. He had to go back and roll the rock up again. This went on for eternity. Tantalus was tormented in a different way. He would reach up to eat grapes but they would move up out of reach. He would then bend down to drink water from a stream but the water would all drain away so fast he could never get a drop. He would then reach up to get the grapes and the grapes would move away again. Tantalus would then bend down to the water but…. This went on for all time.

Good people went to the Elysian Fields when they died. We sometimes called it Elysium.  This was an idyllic place to live with plenty of food. There was no need to work.

There was a figure in Greek Mythology named Persephone. She spent half the year in the Underworld and half the year in the world. Her mother was the goddess of fertility. When Persephone was away plants did not grow since her mother was feeling down. When the daughter came back the plants grew once more.

The Greeks believed in mighty giants called titans. The titans sometimes fought each other. Humans were not supposed to be told how to make fire. However, a titan called Prometheus told people the secret of fire. He was punished by being chained to a cliff. Every day a vulture would come along and eat his liver out. It was agonising. Prometheus could not escape from the escarpment. At night his liver grew back. The next day the vulture would come along an eat it out again. Prometheus did not die. He was stuck there.

Percy Shelley wrote a poem entitled ‘Prometheus Unbound’ in the 19th century about the titan getting free. The word ‘titanic’ means ‘like a titan’.



  1. Where did the pantheon live?
  2. What is the pantheon?
  3. Does anyone believe in Greek Mythology now?
  4. Did the Ancient Greeks think their gods were moral?
  5. Who wrote Promethus Unbound?
  6. What was a nymph?
  7. Who was Zeus?
  8. Who was Hera?
  9. What does Chronos mean?
  10. Who was Charon?
  11. What happened to Sisyphus?




Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany. He grew up in a Jewish family that was not especially religious. His family was middle class and conventional. Einstein was only average at school. He preferred Maths and Physics to other subjects. Only towards the end of his schooling did he bloom. He was a late developer. He went on to university. That was highly unusual at the time. Only a tiny percentage of people went on to third level education in those days. At university Einstein really excelled. He went on to do a doctorate. This involved writing a book called a thesis. A thesis is about a very narrow area of a subject. His thesis then had to be defended before a board. The board consisted of a few professors of Physics. They read his thesis and critiqued it. Einstein was interviewed by the board who probed him about the thesis. He was awarded his doctorate. This is standard procedure for a doctorate. A doctorate is also called a PhD. After that time Albert Einstein was allowed to call himself Dr Einstein. He studied languages and acquired fluency in English which was very rare back then.

In the First World War he was in Berne, Switzerland. The Swiss were neutral in the war. You can still see the flat that he lived in there. It is not worth visiting unless you are fascinated by the man.

After the war he returned to Germany. He continued his research into Physics. He came up with his theory of Relativity. He was not very political but was broadly liberal. In 1933 the Nazi Party became the Government of Germany. Einstein was disturbed by the Nazis getting into office. As a Jewish person he faced discrimination. Albert made a remark about Christian leaders being some of those who spoke out against the Nazis. This was later misused by Christian apologists. He chose to emigrate.

Einstein moved to the US. He found a position at Yale University. Einstein was eventually made a professor He became an American citizen. Albert became very famous. He was invited to address the Oxford Union. That is the debating society of Oxford University.

Despite the man’s anti-intellectualism. He was impish and humorous.

Einstein was married twice. He had three children. The professor died in 1955.


  1. Where was he born?
  2. Was he clever at first?
  3. Where did he spend the First World War?
  4. Why did he leave Germany in the 1930s?
  5. Which country did he shift to?
  6. Did he become an American?
  7. What was his main theory?
  8. What is a PhD?
  9. Which debating society did he address?
  10. When did he die?




John Lyon School



In 1876 The John Lyon School was founded. The school is to be found in Harrow, London. The school is named after a prominent local landowner from the 16th century. Lyon persuaded Queen Elizabeth I to grant a charter to a school in 1572. He then founded Harrow School. Harrow School was supposed to be for ordinary boys. However, it rapidly became a school for the very wealthy. In the late 19th century Harrow School decided that it had better set up a school for boys from an ordinary background. This is why the John Lyon School was established.

John Lyon is a fee paying school. It is all male. The school is located at the foot of Harrow on the Hill. There are several tube stations nearby.

The school is divided into houses. These exist for the purpose of internal competition. There are over 600 pupils at the school.

Boys can join the school at the age of 11. They enter the school in year 7. They can stay until year 13. People sit GCSEs and A levels.

The headmistress is Miss Haynes. The deputy heads are Mr Sims and Mr Pepperburn.

The school has a superb academic profile. All the major subjects are offered. There are exams to get into the school.

People play all sorts of sports at the school. Rugby, football, cricket and other sports are played. The school very much believes in the old adage – a healthy body for a healthy mind.

Several famous people have attended the school. They have become renowned journalists and financiers.

The school has a Latin motto which means ‘may the house of fortune stand.’

There is a school magazine called the Lyonian. A Lyonian means someone who attends JLS.



Answer in full sentences.

  1. When was the school founded?
  2. Who was John Lyon?
  3. What is the first school that John Lyon set up?
  4. Is John Lyon School divided into houses?
  5. Name three sports played at the school.
  6. What is the meaning of the school motto?
  7. Are there girls in this school?
  8. In what area of London is JLS located?
  9. Name the head?
  10. How many deputy heads are there?
  11. Roughly how many pupils are there in the school?
  12. What is the school magazine called?
  13. What is your opinion of JLS? Write five sentences or more.


new course lesson 10 . Lewis Carroll


LEWIS CARROLL. New course lesson 10

Alice in Wonderland is one of the best known children’s stories in the world. It was written by Lewis Carroll. Not many people know much about the author.

Lewis Carroll was born in the United Kingdom. His real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. His family was affluent and well-connected. He attended Rugby School. This is one of the most celebrated schools in the realm. In the early 19th century it was on the up and up because of its legendary headmaster Rev Thomas Arnold.

Lewis Carroll was exceptionally academically able. He had no trouble with Latin and Greek. However, his passion was mathematics. He went to Oxford University. There he covered himself in glory graduating with a first class degree. He was immediately offered a fellowship at Christ Church. Christ Church is the most magnificent college in Oxford. As a ‘fellow’ of the university he was teaching undergraduates. He was also producing research papers.

Photography was only invented in the 1840s by two French brothers named Daguerre. Cameras came to the UK shortly after this time. Cameras were extraordinarily expensive. Lewis Carroll was one of the first people in the country to own a camera. He was an enthusiastic photographer.

Most Oxford dons were priests in those days. A ‘don’ at Oxford or Cambridge is someone who teaches at a university. The word ‘don’ does not have this meaning outside Oxford or Cambridge. The two great English universities were affiliated to the Church of England. People of other Protestant denominations could attend these universities. Lewis Carroll decided to take holy orders – that means to become a priest. This involved some study of theology. He found that simple and passed the exam easily. Soon he was ordained a priest in the Church of England. He was entitled to wear clericals (special clothes for priests). He was also allowed to lead worship and to perform particular ceremonies such as marriages and funerals. Lewis Carroll was allowed to put the word ‘Reverend’ in front of his name. People called him ‘The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’. Reverend is a word that means ‘respected’. For short people write ‘Rev.’ before the name thus ‘Rev. Dodgson’.  But if you see ‘Rev’ it is pronounced ‘ the reverend’. Notice that the word ‘Reverend’ is used before the surname or the whole name. To say ‘The Reverend Charles’ would be wrong unless you say the surname too ‘ The Reverend Charles Dodgson’. Usually people simply used the surname as in ‘The Reverend Dodgson’.

Most Oxford dons were not permitted to marry. If they wished to marry they could do so with the blessing of their college but they must leave. Dons who married moved to be clergy in parishes controlled by their colleges. One of the exceptions to this was the head of house. Each Oxford college had a head of house. The head of house was the man in charge of the college. At Christ Church the head of house was the Dean. Dean Liddell was married and had children.

On Sunday 4 July 1861 Dean Liddell decided to take his family on a jolly boat trip down the Thames. Liddell asked his friend Lewis Carroll to come along. They set off from Folly Bridge in Oxford. They rowed at a sedate pace. This was leisure and not a race.

As they paddled along that afternoon Dean Liddell’s daughter Alice asked Lewis Carroll to tell her a story. Lewis Carroll made up a story on the spot.  The protagonist was named Alice after the child in the boat. It was so vivid and enthralling that Alice said that he should write down the story. When Lewis Carroll got home he did just that.

The story was reworked. Lewis Carroll added a character called the mad hatter based on an eccentric furniture dealer in Oxford.  Hatmakers used quicksilver (mercury) to treat felt. Felt is animal’s fur and skin. Quicksilver made the felt stiff and therefore suitable as a hate Continued exposure to mercury made people mentally ill. Insanity was an occupational disease of milliners.

Carroll then presented the manuscript to a publishing house. His story was printed and sold. It was an overnight sensation.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wanted to be taken seriously as a mathematician. He thought that if he published a children’s storybook under his real name it would undermine his reputation. Therefore he took the name Charles and turned it into ‘Carroll’ because it is related to the Latin for Charles. Lutwidge he turned into Lewis. He dropped ‘Dodgson’ for his pen name.  He reversed the order of his names. It should have been Carroll Lewis but he put them in the opposite order. Therefore he published the book under the name Lewis Carroll.

Alice in Wonderland was groundbreaking. It did not conform to the conventions of a fantasy novel. It was not a fairytale with witches, goblins, wizards, enchantment, miracles and so forth. It was zany and memorable. The novel contained some characters whose names have now entered common parlance such as the Mad Hatter. The expression ‘off with their heads’ is well known now.

The book was read avidly in the United States. The US was in the throes of its civil war. This book distracted people from their travails.

Queen Victoria asked Lewis Carroll to come to meet her. The don duly traveled to Buckingham Palace. Her Gracious Majesty expressed her delight at this sublime book. She requested a copy of his next publication. The following year Lewis Carroll published a book on higher mathematics and sent it to the Queen. She was perplexed by the book. It was beyond her. She had not realized that Lewis Carroll was first and foremost a mathematician.

Lewis Carroll preferred photographing people to things.  He never married or had children. Rev Dodgson (to give him is real name) conducted worship until the last months of his life. He lived out his days in Oxford. He died there and is buried in the city. After he died his family destroyed most of his albums.

Alice grew up married and had children.


  1. In which country was Lewis Carroll born?
  2. What was his real name?
  3. What school did he go to?
  4. What was his favourite subject?
  5. Which university did he go to?
  6. Was he clever?
  7. What is an Oxford don?
  8. Did Lewis Carroll marry?
  9. Who was Dean Liddell?
  10. What was the name of Liddell’s daughter?
  11. On which day did the Liddell’s take Lewis Carroll on their boat?
  12. How did the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson turn into Lewis Carroll?
  13. Which bridge did they set off from on their boat?
  14.  On which date did Lewis Carroll tell a story to Alice?
  15. Why is the main character in Alice in Wonderland named Alice?
  16. Who was the mad hatter based on?
  17. Was Lewis Carroll’s book popular?
  18. Did Queen Victoria read the book?
  19. Why did people in the US need cheering up in the 1860s?
  20. What happened to Alice Liddell?







C S Lewis. New course 9


C S LEWIS. New course  9

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Ireland in 1899. The city of his birth was Belfast. He was Irish but his ancestors had come from Wales and England not many generations before. Lewis had one brother to whom he was very close. C S Lewis had no sisters. His family was well off due to his father’s successful legal practice. The Lewis family were communicants of the Church of Ireland. The family was intensely religious. The mother of the family had been to university. Tertiary education for women had only just become available. Therefore the Lewis family must be recognized for its academic prowess.

When Lewis was nine years old his mother died. He felt this blow very heavily. His father was not much good at commiserating with his children or providing them with the warmth that their mother had. Instead the father of the family threw himself into his work even more. C S and his brother were sent to a boarding school in England.

C S was very bright. He was gifted in several subjects but gravitated more towards the humanities. When he was 15 the First World War broke out. As he approached school leaving age he knew that he would be expected to join the British Army or the Royal Navy. He sat exams for a scholarship to University College, Oxford.  University College is the oldest college in Oxford University. He won his scholarship in classics. That means Latin and Ancient Greek. He was allowed to go up to Oxford for one year on condition that after that he joined the army. Once the war was over he would be welcomed back to the university to finish his degree.

C S Lewis hugely enjoyed his year at Oxford. He strove to make the most of it. But he knew it was delaying the time before he must go and fight. News of the war was everywhere. Some university buildings were taken over as hospitals for wounded soldiers. There were war refugees in the town. Young men who had just graduated went off to fight. Every Sunday names were read out in chapel of men who had recently left the college and been killed in the war.

The time came when  C S Lewis volunteered for the British Army. The army was class stratified. Those from the higher socio-economic stratum could be officers. C S Lewis had been to a fee paying school so was eligible. Further, he had attended university. He was selected for officer training. He was soon commissioned as an officer. Lewis was soon dispatched to France. There he saw action. Understandably he was horrified by war. He was not nationalistic. He did not detest the German enemy. Lieutenant Lewis was a man of peace and he derived no satisfaction from killing.

The war ended only a few months after C S Lewis had been sent to the front. He returned to Oxford. He soon graduated with a First Class degree. He was offered a fellowship at a college. This means a job teaching and being part of the governing body of a college. C S Lewis accepted without hesitation. Classics was his subject and he also delved into philosophy. He was fascinated by literature in various languages.

The war had badly shaken C S Lewis’ faith. For a time he became an atheist. He blamed God for all this suffering.

The early 1920s was a period of intense political upheaval. There was conflict in Ireland. The communists took over Russia. The coalition government came to an end. The economic dislocation engendered by war in the UK caused mass unemployment. All this seems to have passed C S Lewis by. He was indifferent to politics. Although he was Irish he spoke with a totally English accent and seldom visited Ireland.

In the 1920s Lewis returned to his faith. He began writing about philosophy and literature. One of his undergraduates was John Betjeman. Betjeman found Lewis to be fusty, prissy, precious and dull. Lewis thought that Betjeman was a banality – debonair but superficial, brash and mediocre. Betjeman went on to be poet laureate.

The Inklings was an informal social set of writers in Oxford. They called themselves ‘inkling’ as in a drop of ink but it also means a presentiment. The Inklings met at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford.  The inklings were all men. The group included J R R Tolkien.

C S Lewis savoured the convivial life of a don. A don is a lecturer or professor at Oxford or Cambridge. It was very collegial. He dined on high table in his college and socialized with the other dons. He also had a house outside the college. He and his brother shared a house called the Kilns to the east of Oxford. C S Lewis’ brother had been a career army officer. Neither of them was married.

In the 1930s Lewis began writing about his faith. He tried to reach a wider audience. He wondered if he could pen an allegory that would appeal to children.

In the Second World War many children were evacuated from urban areas. Major cities were the target of bombing. Children would be moved to remote areas where they would not be killed. C S Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe about some children from the city being sent to live with a kindly old retired professor in the countryside. The fuddy duddy professor is a bachelor and has a huge rambling houses with a wooded garden. It seemed very like C S Lewis. He invented a land called Narnia. The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of five novels by Lewis. The best known of the five is the first in the series – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis wrote these tales in sparse yet sparkling prose. The stories had to have an engaging plotline and be pared. They are fast moving to hold the attention of children. There are plenty of surprises.

In the 1950s Lewis became a world famous broadcaster. Despite that he was still fairly private. A fan of his in the United States began corresponding with him. Her name was Joy Davidman. Joy was married and had two young sons. She had been brought up Jewish but abandoned her faith. She had been a communist in the 1930s. Miss Davidman had been a prodigy. She was also a published poet.

In 1955 Joy Davidman visited the United Kingdom for the first time. She brought her children with her. Her marriage was breaking up. She finally met C S Lewis whom she knew so well through his letters and books. Soon she found that she wished to remain in the United Kingdom. This was no simple matter. Her friendship with C S Lewis became intense. She asked him to marry her because that would grant her to right to reside in the UK. C S Lewis agreed and they married in a registry office. However, they lived separately.

Some of C S Lewis’ colleagues were distinctly cool on Joy Davidman. A few of them were suspicious of this woman 20 years younger than C S Lewis who had come into his life. C S Lewis was in his 50s and had never evinced the slightest interest in women. He was a confirmed bachelor. They felt that she had seduced Lewis.

Joy Davidman contracted cancer. It went into remission. In 1958 she and Lewis decided to marry in a church. This was a real wedding so far as Lewis was concerned. This time they lived together.  She and Lewis had no children together. Then the cancer returned. Joy’s health deteriorated rapidly. She died in 1960. Her sons were adopted by C S Lewis.

In 1963 Lewis died on the same day as John F Kennedy. Therefore Lewis’ death garnered little press comment.


  1. When was Lewis born?
  2. In which city was he born?
  3. What was unusual about his mother?
  4.  How many siblings did he have?
  5. What was his father’s job?
  6. Where did C S Lewis school?
  7. Which university did he attend?
  8. What was his subject?
  9.  Was he in the army?
  10. Did he like fighting?
  11. What happened to his faith after the war?
  12. Was he a don?
  13. Which university did he work at?
  14. What did he make of John Betjeman?
  15. What was the name of his first novel?
  16.  How many books are in the Chronicles of Narnia?
  17. Is Narnia real?
  18. Why were children evacuated in the Second World War?
  19. Who was Joy Davidman?
  20. Why did some of Lewis’ colleagues dislike Joy?
  21. How many children did Davidman have?
  22. When did Joy die?
  23. Why did Lewis’ death get little publicity?
  24.  What do you think of him?