You probably know that C. S. Lewis wrote the much adored Chronicles of Narnia, which included the classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. What you might not know, is that C. S. Lewis had been a writer all his life. Even as a child he strove to let his imagination take form and get his tales down on paper. The most prominent of those early childhood stories, concerned the world of Boxen.
A joint effort between C.S. and his brother Warren, the tales of Boxen focused on stories of anthropomorphic animal characters. Inspired largely by the Lewis brothers’ love of Beatrix Potter and her work. (Peter Rabbit, one of her most famous characters is pictured below.) The stories combined C.S.’s earlier work called Animal-Land and Warren’s which focused largely on India.
While both brothers were avid readers and writers, it is interesting to note that if not for an outbreak of influenza, the world of Boxen may have never come to be. For it was during an outbreak, at which time the brothers were forced to stay inside, that the story came together. C.S. and Warren occupied their time by reading and writing, and it was during their isolation that C.S. Lewis really started to develop the foundation for Animal-Land. He wrote about the fictional land’s politics and history, even going so far as to illustrate some of the city’s buildings and characters.
It’s easy to see how this early work would later carry over into the Narnia Chronicles. There even seems to be an early sketch of Reepicheep in the drawings above. However, for a long time, we were left to guess at what those early stories entailed. Luckily, in the mid-1980s, Boxen – The Imaginary World of the Young C.S. Lewis was published for all to enjoy. It has since been consumed by many fans and has been published in many forms, including this version available on amazon for just $4! (What a deal!)