Handwritten letter from C.S. Lewis describing the trials he faced at home caring for both his brother Warren and his companion Janie Moore, which served as inspiration for his famed series The Chronicles of Narnia.
Letter measures 5.5″ x 8.5″. Written in blue ink, previously folded, two holes punched along left side from where recipient Peter Purkiss kept the letter in a ring binder. The letter reads: “Magdalen Co, 26/2/49. Dear Mr. Purkiss, I am afraid that I [am] now so tied to home by the care always of one, sometimes of two, invalids, and so driven with work that I cannot undertake any extras. With thanks and regards. Yours sincerely, C.S. Lewis.”
C.S. Lewis made a pact with fellow World War I cadet and friend Paddy Moore to care for each other’s families should one die in the war. Lewis honored the pact upon Paddy’s death in 1918, caring for his friends mother, Janie, and sister, Maureen. Lewis moved into The Kilns with the two women and his brother, Warren Lewis. By the late 1940s, Janie Moore lost use of her legs and ran the house from her bed, frequently arguing with the maids despite one undergoing psychiatric treatment. At the same time, Lewis had to move his brother to the Acland Nursing Home for addiction treatment. Similar letters from this period show Lewis’ disdain for the ordeal, like on January 14 when he wrote “My house is unquiet and devastated by women’s quarrels.” It was at this low moment that Lewis dove into what would become The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; of which he shared the first two chapters with Roger Lancelyn Green on March 10, 1949. (Green/Hooper, C.S. Lewis: Biography, 1974) (Edwards, C.S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy, 2007, p. 183) Provenance: Letter was donated by the recipient to Mrs. Judith C. Powles, librarian at Spurgeon’s College, to be sold to benefit the Library. Includes note from Peter Purkiss to Mrs. Powles, mailing envelope, and email correspondence.