Belfast urged to mark CS Lewis' 50th anniversary
The 50th anniversary of the death of CS Lewis should be marked in his native Belfast in honour of the legacy of the renowned writer, it has been urged.
Politicians and experts on the author, famous for his Narnia books, maintain that it would be both a “missed opportunity” and “affront to his memory” if it is not commemorated by a significant event in Northern Ireland.
The comments come after it was announced a memorial stone will be erected in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner next year in his honour.
DUP MLA Robin Newton said there is now 12 months to organise a significant event fitting to his legacy.
“There will be other small exhibitions and events organised, but we need something of significance to recognise his contribution— across all the communities,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure said both Libraries NI and the Linenhall Library are organising a programme of events including exhibitions, talks, readings and workshops.
Mr Newton, however, said that it was important Lewis was honoured by a “significant feature”.
He described it as “unacceptable” that the anniversary will be marked in London but not in Belfast.
“Not to mark his passing in this, the 50th year of his death, would be an affront to his memory and neglectful of someone who gave such pleasure to past generations and left such a rich legacy for generations to come.”
A statue was unveiled in 1998, the centenary of Lewis' birth, outside Holywood Arches in east Belfast.
Proposals to develop a CS Lewis Centre in his native east Belfast have not been finalised.
Sandy Smith, who has led tours on CS Lewis for seven years in Belfast, said it was a “no-brainer” that something should be organised.
“It’s important because Belfast was his birthplace and he is an internationally renowned author with a big following around the world,” he said. “Even after 50 years there is such a very high value on Lewis, especially among American academics.
“If Lewis had been born in the United States there would already be a huge memorial to his birth.
“That same value should be placed on Lewis where he was born, in east Belfast.”
Mr Smith added: “It seems like a no-brainer as to why we should do this.
“We have an economy that is falling apart and a tourist industry that could benefit.
“It would be a shame if all we have in the city is a sculpture and a plaque on a brick wall in Dundela Avenue.
“It is not a whole heap for someone who made such a contribution to literature.”
Clive Staples Lewis was born in 1898 in Belfast. The family moved to Strandtown in east Belfast when Lewis was seven. He studied at Oxford and joined up at the outbreak of the Great War. He wrote more than 30 books, including The Chronicles Of Narnia, Out Of The Silent Planet and Mere Christianity. He died in Oxford on November 22, 1963