The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are some of the world’s most iconic children’s books. The books’ fantastical, magical settings and their authors’ similar names are enough to make some people wonder if the two writers are the same person.
C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll are not the same person. The two didn’t even live at the same time. Instead, C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books, is Clive Staples Lewis, an Irish/English author born in 1898. Lewis Carroll is the pseudonym of English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who died in 1898.
This article will further examine who these authors were and provide a list of some of their most famous works and other essential information. Channel your inner literary scholar, and keep reading to learn more.
Similarities Between C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll
While C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll are two separate, non-related people, they have a few things in common besides the name Lewis.
First, they’re both authors of beloved, best-selling children’s books that people still read and appreciate today.
The worlds they created in Narnia and Wonderland are also very similar. They’re full of talking animals, magic, and gorgeous settings that children visit to escape from the real world. The themes – coming of age, innocence, etc. – and symbolism in their books further mirror one another.
Additionally, they both grew up and were educated in England and attended Oxford University. However, they were enrolled in separate colleges within the university and studied very different subjects.
They both had connections to Ireland, as well. C.S. Lewis was born there, while Lewis Carroll’s grandfather and great-grandfather were both from there. The two authors were also members of the Anglican church and had incredibly religious upbringings.
Finally, while entirely coincidental, it’s also interesting to note that C.S. Lewis was born the same year that Lewis Carroll died.
Now, let’s look at these two brilliant authors in more detail.
Who Was C.S. Lewis?
C.S. Lewis, author of the famous Chronicles of Narnia series, is primarily regarded as a British or English author.
However, he was actually born in Belfast, Ireland, on November 29, 1898. He lived there until age nine, when his mother died, and his father decided he should receive his education in England.
Childhood, Education, and Career
Lewis attended a few different English schools as a boy, but he was never fond of his time in them. Instead, he preferred to read Beatrix Potter stories and come up with his own tales of fictional worlds and magical animals who could speak.
He also battled against his Christian upbringing, declaring himself an atheist in his mid-teens.
As an adult, he served in France during World War I before returning to finish his collegiate education at University College, Oxford. He took various language and literature classes, earned his degree, and eventually took a position at the University of Cambridge, where he taught medieval and Renaissance English.
Throughout this time, he never gave up his dream of writing his own stories. He also reclaimed his faith in his early 30s and became as well-known as a theologian as he was a professor and writer. Christian themes, ideas, symbolism, and allegories appear throughout his literary works.
He published his first fiction novel in 1938 and would publish several other fiction and non-fiction books and essays before releasing the first Narnia book in 1950.
Lewis’s Most Famous Works
C.S. Lewis’s most famous works are his Narnia books. In publication order, those are:
- The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
- Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Horse and His Boy
- The Magician’s Nephew
- The Last Battle
For more information on the books’ publication and chronological orders, check out my article “What Order Should You Read the Narnia Books?“
The Narnia books weren’t Lewis’ only claim to fame, however. He’s also known for the satirical novel The Screwtape Letters and several religious-based and philosophical texts, including:
- The Great Divorce
- The Abolition of Man
- Mere Christianity
- The Problem of Pain
- Surprised By Joy
- A Grief Observed
Lewis also wrote a science fiction trilogy for adults, known collectively as The Space Trilogy or The Cosmic Trilogy.
Though they never received the same accolades nor reached the same heights of popularity as his Narnia books, the three novels rank highly on most book-based websites, with 3.9/5 stars or higher on Goodreads and 4.6/5 stars or higher on Amazon.
Who Was Lewis Carroll?
Outside of literary scholars, English teachers, and Wonderland enthusiasts, few people recognize the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. However, plenty of people know who Lewis Carroll is.
The good news is that if you know Lewis Carroll, you also know Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, as Lewis Carroll is his pen name.
Under his pseudonym, Dodgson authored the extremely popular Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (originally titled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground) and a few other works.
Childhood, Education, and Career
Before he dove into Wonderland, however, Dodgson was a mathematician. He was born in 1832 in Cheshire, England, to a similarly mathematically gifted father. Unfortunately for Dodgson, whose faith was ambivalent at best, his father, a parson, cared far more about religion than math.
Dodgson and his ten siblings grew up in a rectory in Yorkshire and received no formal schooling during their early years. He was finally enrolled in school when he turned 12. He was a good student but had a noticeable stutter and didn’t enjoy his time in school.
Eventually, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Final Honours School of Mathematics, Oxford, in 1852. He then took a job in the mathematics department of Christ Church, where he continued to work, albeit not always happily until he died in 1898.
Carroll’s Most Famous Works
Lewis Carroll’s most famous works are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass. The first Wonderland book alone has sold over 100 million copies, and a rare first edition copy was auctioned for over two million dollars in 2016.
He does have a few other works, most notably poems and short stories. However, they never soared in popularity like the Alice books. Additionally, some of his other works borrow heavily from the Alice books, such as Nursery Alice, which is Alice in Wonderland, only slimmed down and simplified for toddlers.
During his lifetime, he was more well-known for his brilliant mathematical mind and photography skills than his literary genius.
In fact, his endearing Alice books began only as a way to entertain his friend’s daughters. One of the daughters, Alice, loved Dodgson’s oral version of the story so much that she encouraged him to write it down. He did so, giving her the original handwritten copy and eventually looking for a publisher to put the book in print.
C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll are two entirely different people, though both were talented authors who wrote some of the world’s most influential and enduring children’s books. There are some similarities, but hopefully, this article has given you enough information to tell them apart in the future.