There is now a thriving C S Lewis industry. It would be very surprising if this were the only book about Lewis to appear this year. Of course, there is also something of an A N Wilson industry. It would be equally surprising if this were the only book by Wilson to appear this year. A dozen novels, four biographies and vast quantities of miscellaneous writing to his credit, it can only be a matter of time before somebody gets round to writing a book about him.
The suggestion for this biography came from the publishers and from Walter Hooper, chief guardian of Lewis’s memory. One can understand why they felt that a distinguished Oxonian writer with Anglican predilections would be the ideal man for the job. Certainly, Wilson has produced a predictably intelligent and readable book. One cannot help thinking, however, that there was no great need for a new biography of Lewis.
All Wilson’s previous subjects – Scott, Milton, Belloc, Tolstoy – have been ripe for re-assessment or re-examination. In Lewis’s case, however, Wilson’s friend, Humphrey Carpenter, has already written a group biography of the Tolkien-Lewis-Charles Williams circle, The Inklings. Wilson’s book does not add much, if anything, to Carpenter’s portrait.