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source for wardrobe question

source for wardrobe question

Postby jilltroy » 01 Oct 2004, 18:36

Hi. I'm wondering if anyone's come across a reliable source to verify the oft-told story of one of the children staying with Lewis during the war asking what was behind the wardrobe, thereby setting into motion the LWW? Any help would be great, thanks!
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby loeee » 01 Oct 2004, 18:49

Hello Jill,

I recently heard that story for the first time, on the PBS special on Lewis and Freud. There were several inaccuracies in that program, so I think you are wise to try to check the sources. That being said, I have no idea where you would look, beyond this site. Perhaps one of the other Wardrobians has some information.
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby Sven » 01 Oct 2004, 20:30

Hi, Jill,
I'm afraid there isn't any validity to the story. Two of the young ladies who stayed at the Kilns during the war as evacuees wrote rememberances, Patricia Boshell Heidelberger and Jill Flewett Freud. Neither one of them mention any such a thing. Jill Freud especially stayed a close friend of both Jack and Warnie right up to their deaths.

Jack Lewis himself explained in his essay It All Began with a Picture... how he got the inspiration for LWW:

C.S. Lewis wrote:The Lion all began witha picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it'.


Hope this helps,

Selah,
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Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
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Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby jill » 01 Oct 2004, 21:56

Thank you both. I saw it written in Brian Sibley's 1989 book, The Land of Narnia, so I figured it must have some validity to it, but I can't seem to find a "closer-to-the-source" source.
Still open if anyone comes up with anything...
Thanks!
Jill
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby centauri » 04 Oct 2004, 03:45

They just discussed this story on the PBS special, The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud with Dr. Arand Nicholl. The book is also available at Amazon.com. So the story appears to be true.
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby Sven » 04 Oct 2004, 21:51

centauri wrote:They just discussed this story on the PBS special, The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud with Dr. Arand Nicholl. The book is also available at Amazon.com. So the story appears to be true.


Repetition doesn't make something true. All else failing, I'll take Lewis' own statement as to the source of inspiration.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby Growing Up To Be A Child » 05 Oct 2004, 14:52

Sven wrote:
C.S. Lewis wrote:The Lion all began witha picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it'.


Hi,
does that mean a picture on a wall, or a picture in his mind's eye for no apparent reason?
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby loeee » 05 Oct 2004, 16:36

Growing Up To Be A Child wrote:does that mean a picture on a wall, or a picture in his mind's eye for no apparent reason?


A picture in his mind's eye. In context, Lewis was saying that, for him, all stories he wrote began with pictures in his imagination; the story would grow from that.
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby carol » 05 Oct 2004, 18:25

The best bio Sayer's "Jack" does mention that one of the evacuees asked about the wardrobe. It also mentions that Jack had enjoyed E.Nesbit's children's stories, including one about about a child who goes to another land via a wardrobe!
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby robsia » 05 Oct 2004, 19:26

carol wrote:The best bio Sayer's "Jack" does mention that one of the evacuees asked about the wardrobe. It also mentions that Jack had enjoyed E.Nesbit's children's stories, including one about about a child who goes to another land via a wardrobe!


Do you, or does anyone happen to know which E Nesbit story that was?
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby Sven » 05 Oct 2004, 20:27

Linda wrote:
carol wrote:The best bio Sayer's "Jack" does mention that one of the evacuees asked about the wardrobe. It also mentions that Jack had enjoyed E.Nesbit's children's stories, including one about about a child who goes to another land via a wardrobe!


Do you, or does anyone happen to know which E Nesbit story that was?


The short story 'The Aunt and Amabel' (the 'm' in Amabel is correct), which involves going thru a wardrobe to enter another world. In the other world is a train station named Bigwardrobeinspareroom. Lewis' mention in the beginning of The Magician's Nephew of the Bastables was a tribute to Newbit's 'Bastable Family' series of stories. Both that series and her other series, 'The Five Children' have several things that influenced Lewis' children's stories.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby loeee » 05 Oct 2004, 20:35

There's a difference between how one gets an idea for a story (LWW started with a picture) and what things influence that story once it is begun (a question about a wardrobe, other stories, events in one's life...).

The story about the question may well be true, and still not be how Lewis "got the idea" for writing the story.
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby Sven » 05 Oct 2004, 20:47

loeee wrote:There's a difference between how one gets an idea for a story (LWW started with a picture) and what things influence that story once it is begun (a question about a wardrobe, other stories, events in one's life...).

The story about the question may well be true, and still not be how Lewis "got the idea" for writing the story.


Absolutely. I have no doubt he was asked about the wardrobe, but Sibley or someone else made the false connection with Narnia.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: source for wardrobe question

Postby carol » 06 Oct 2004, 05:13

The "someone else" may well have the initials W.H. since he was the source of a number of things Sibley quotes. (I like Sibley myself, and have been quoting his book for several years.)
I'd prefer to ask these questions to Mr Gresham....
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