The initials in C.S. Lewis stand for Clives Staples but for most of his life Lewis was called Jack. In his new book, A Life Observed, Devin Brown explains.
“Although born and baptized as Clive, Lewis soon took a disliking to the name his parents had given him. Sometime around the age of four, he marched up to his mother and, pointing at himself, declared that he was now to be known as “Jacksie.” This name, later shortened to Jacks and then to just Jack, became the only name he would answer to. In his book Jack’s Life, Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson, provides the following background on why Lewis chose this name: ‘It was actually because of a small dog that he was fond of that he picked the name Jacksie, which was what the dog was called. It was run over (probably by a horse and cart as there were almost no cars in the time and place where he was a child), and Jack, as he later became known just took the name for himself.’ (2)
Years later Lewis would begin The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with the famous line: ‘Once there was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it’ (3). With the similar sounds in Eustace and Lewis and the shared initials C and S, readers might see this as the author’s partially veiled critique of his own given name. As we will see later, Clive Staples Lewis and Eustace Clarence Scrubb shared other traits as well, ones that went beyond names they were given.” (18)
A Life Observed is from Brazos Press. It is a paperback with 256 pages and sells for $14.99.
Devin Brown (PhD, University of South Carolina) is a Lilly scholar and professor of English at Asbury University. A C. S. Lewis aficionado, Brown has written, taught, and lectured on Lewis extensively for more than ten years. He has authored a number of books related to Lewis, including Inside Narnia and Inside Prince Caspian, and lives in Kentucky. In 2008 Brown was invited to serve as scholar-in-residence at the Kilns, Lewis’s home in Oxford.