monthly fandom

Answering the Fan Mail

C.S. Lewis gained a lot of young fans after he wrote the Narnia series, and, just like famous authors today, he got a lot of mail from them. His letters to children were always very thoughtful and took their recipients seriously. Just to give you an idea of what these letters were like, here’s one of many that he wrote to an American fan named Joan.

Aug 31 1958

Dear Joan–I am sure you had fun writing the stories. The main fault of the animal one is that you don’t mix the reality and the fantasy quite in the right way. One way is Beatrix Potter’s or Brer Rabbit’s. By fantasy the animals are allowed to talk and behave in many ways like humans. But their relations to one another and to us remain the real ones. Rabbits are in danger from foxes and men. The other way is mine: you go right out of this world into a different creation, where there are a different sort of animals. Yours are all in the real world with a real eclipse. But they don’t have the real relations to one another–real small animals wd. not be friends with an owl, nor wd. it know more astronomy than they! The spy story is better but you are trying to get too much into the space. One feels crowded. And wouldn’t the police be rather silly if they thought a man who sang the part of Wotan (how I love it, by the way) well couldn’t be a spy? I hope you don’t mind me telling you all this? One can learn only by seeing one’s mistakes. We’ve had a terrible dark, wet summer here but it looks as if we are now beginning a nice autumn.

With love,
C.S. Lewis

P.S. The content of the poem is good but the verse “creaks” a bit!

From C.S. Lewis Letters to Children edited by Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead

Wouldn’t it be awesome to get writing advice from C.S. Lewis? Even if it was all criticism–which it probably would be for most of us? By the way, “Wotan” is a Germanic god (a version of Odin) who appears as a character in Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung opera cycle.


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