From Penny Thompson
Sir, - Further to your article "An unlikely portal" (Features, 22
November): one of Erich Kästner's children's novels, Der 35
Mai (The Thirty-fifth of May), tells the story of
Conrad, his uncle, and a talking horse on roller skates.
Early on in the story, they disappear one by one through an old
carved wardrobe into a magical land in search of the South Seas
(Conrad had been given a homework task to complete on the topic).
They find themselves in a magical, topsy-turvy world, with a
distinct bias towards children. They visit a medieval castle,
complete with jousting, a reform school for bad parents, a
science-fiction, nightmarish city with mobile phones and moving
walkways, and a South Sea island. It was first published in
The edition I have has a wonderful picture of Uncle Ringelhuth
shoving the horse into the wardrobe. When I first read this story,
it occurred to me that it might have been the inspiration for
Lewis's fantasy The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
14 Chestnut Avenue
Liverpool L23 2SZ
From Ann Franklin
Sir, - Your celebration of the life and work of C. S. Lewis was
much appreciated. In a review, the Ven. Jonathan Boardman wondered
why the journey from Oxford to Cambridge was not mentioned (Books, 22
In Lewis's day, it was hardly a matter for comment: train from
Oxford to Bletchley (where the station announcement was "change
here for Oxford and Cambridge"), then further train to Cambridge.
Now the most direct means of making the journey is by the X5
50 Chaucer Road
Rugby CV22 5RP