The Making of C. S. Lewis: From Atheist to Apologist


By Harry Lee Poe

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The Making of C. S. Lewis: From Atheist to Apologist


By Harry Lee Poe

... Show All

Experience C. S. Lewis’s Captivating Transformation from Atheist to Christian

At the end of World War I, young C. S. Lewis was a devout atheist about to begin his studies at Oxford. In the three decades that followed, he would establish himself as one of the most influential writers and scholars of modern times, undergoing a radical conversion to Christianity that would transform his life and his work.

Scholar Harry Lee Poe unfolds these watershed years in Lewis’s life, offering readers a unique perspective on his conversion, his friendships with well-known Christians such as J. R. R. Tolkien and Dorothy L. Sayers, and his development from an opponent of Christianity to one of its most ardent defenders.

Read Chapter 1


Harry Lee Poe

Harry Lee Poe (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the author of twenty books, including The Inklings of Oxford and C. S. Lewis Remembered, as well as numerous articles on Lewis and the Inklings. Poe hosts the annual Inklings Weekend in Montreat, North Carolina, and is a regular speaker on Lewis at universities and other venues worldwide. He served as the Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University, where he has taught a course on C. S. Lewis for over twenty years. 

Product Details

Category: History & Biography
Format: Hardcover w/ Jacket
Page Count: 400
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 20.59 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-6783-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-6783-4
ISBN-UPC: 9781433567834
Case Quantity: 16
Published: June 01, 2021

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Return to Oxford
Chapter 2: From Philosophy to Literature
Chapter 3: From Undergraduate to Fellow
Chapter 4: From Idealist to Christian
Chapter 5: From Poet to Scholar
Chapter 6: From Scholar to Novelist
Chapter 7: From Peace to War
Chapter 8: From Academic Work to War Work
Chapter 9: From Personal Testimony to Philosophy of Science
Chapter 10: From War to Peace


“Detailed and fluent, this second volume of Poe’s trilogy is a triple helix of biography, literary criticism, and spiritual portraiture that will reward any reader, from the generally curious to the experienced Lewis scholar. Poe’s narrative vision of Lewis’s conversion and apologetic commitment, his arguments along the way, and the nuances of his spiritual insights are, respectively, engaging, challenging, and fascinating. Highly recommended.”
James Como, author, C. S. Lewis: A Very Short Introduction

“There are few more-erudite scholars of Lewis alive today than Harry Lee Poe. This being so, this long-expected second volume of Poe’s three-part intellectual life of Lewis is most welcome. Taking Lewis’s intellectual journey from his atheist youth to his work as a middle-aged Christian apologist, Poe serves as the perfect guide to his subject’s emergence as one of the most powerful voices in the English-speaking world.”
Joseph Pearce, author, Further Up & Further In: Understanding Narnia

The Making of C. S. Lewis, a work of careful and detailed scholarship, is distinguished by the close attention Harry Lee Poe pays to Lewis’s reading and, most importantly, to his poetry and his early literary scholarship. Poe's assessment of the importance of The Allegory of Love—not simply as a work of scholarship but as the test bed for Lewis’s emerging theology of the imagination—is most impressive. Poe delineates the important links between Lewis the literary critic and Lewis the Christian thinker. New Lewis readers and seasoned Lewis scholars have much to gain from this thought-provoking book.”
Malcolm Guite, Life Fellow, Girton College, Cambridge; author, Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and After Prayer

“With the increasing popularity of C. S. Lewis, the time has come for a more complete biography. This second volume of Harry Lee Poe’s three-volume biography covers all the major events and many previously ignored minor events so that we learn far more about Lewis’s generosity, friendships, writings, life of service, and uproarious sense of humor. Besides all the major people in Lewis’s life, Poe pieces together the influence of all the major people in Lewis’s life, as well as Leo Baker, Janie Moore, A. C. Harwood, Owen Barfield, and numerous others. Anyone who wants to graduate to the full picture of the life of Lewis needs to read this book.”
Joel D. Heck, Professor of Theology, Concordia University, Texas; author, From Atheism to Christianity: The Story of C. S. Lewis

“Harry Lee Poe has produced an in-depth sequel to his earlier book Becoming C. S. Lewis. This second volume offers detailed information about Lewis’s early adulthood and examines all the people, ideas, and experiences that influenced his pilgrimage from sharp-tongued atheist to golden-tongued apologist for Christian faith.”
David C. Downing, Codirector, Marion E. Wade Center

“While not all pictures are worth a thousand words, The Making of C. S. Lewis paints an image that is clearly worth every bit of its 120,000 words. Taking the reader from just before Lewis’s first published book and stopping five years prior to his Narnia debut, Poe masterfully unfolds details that even those familiar with Lewis might not know. This is especially true with the relatively recent discovery of The Norse Spirit in English Literature, as complete details about it are revealed. Anyone wanting to understand why Lewis is so widely respected needs to read this book.”
William O’Flaherty, author, The Misquotable C. S. Lewis; Host, All About Jack podcast

“Hal Poe’s The Making of C. S. Lewis is the much anticipated second installment of Poe’s comprehensive biography of the foremost Christian apologist of the twentieth century. Much as he did in Becoming C. S. Lewis, Poe draws on multiple primary and secondary sources in order to offer an articulate and informed reading of Lewis’s life from 1918 to 1945. Of particular significance is Poe’s exploration of how Lewis’s conversion impacted his writings after 1933 through World War II.”
Don King, author, C. S. Lewis, Poet; Plain to the Inward Eye; and The Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis

“Harry Lee Poe has a remarkable ability to highlight and explore central moments of Lewis’s life in a highly readable way. Not only does his narrative retain an absorbing continuity of unfolding events, but he also shows the significance of the role that Lewis’s friends and family members, including his adoptive mother, played in shaping the journey of his life. J. R. R. Tolkien once remarked to an Oxford student that they would never get to the bottom of their tutor C. S. Lewis, but The Making of C. S. Lewis succeeds in doing so. It is refreshingly accessible as well as deeply knowledgeable, covering all aspects of the complex Lewis, whose learning, storytelling for adults and children, wisdom, and humor are known throughout the world.”
Colin Duriez, author, C. S. Lewis: A Biography of Friendship and Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship