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C. S. Lewis and his fictional wardrobe

06 December 2013


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 1931.

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 November).

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 bus.

50 Chaucer Road
Rugby CV22 5RP

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