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Studying with Kirkpatrick ("The Great Knock", as Lewis afterwards called him) instilled in him a love of Greek literature and mythology and sharpened his debate and reasoning skills.In 1916, Lewis was awarded a scholarship at University College, Oxford.His father was Albert James Lewis (1863–1929), a solicitor whose father Richard had come to Ireland from Wales during the mid-19th century.His mother was Florence Augusta Lewis, née Hamilton (1862–1908), known as Flora, the daughter of a Church of Ireland priest, and great grand-daughter of both Bishop Hugh Hamilton and John Staples. When he was four, his dog Jacksie was killed by a car, and he announced that his name was now Jacksie.He also grew to love nature; its beauty reminded him of the stories of the North, and the stories of the North reminded him of the beauties of nature.His teenage writings moved away from the tales of Boxen, and he began using different art forms, such as epic poetry and opera, to try to capture his new-found interest in Norse mythology and the natural world.At first, he would answer to no other name, but later accepted Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life.As a boy, Lewis was fascinated with anthropomorphic animals; he fell in love with Beatrix Potter's stories and often wrote and illustrated his own animal stories.
On his nineteenth birthday (29 November 1917) he arrived at the front line in the Somme Valley in France, where he experienced trench warfare for the first time.
He was then sent to the health-resort town of Malvern, Worcestershire, where he attended the preparatory school Cherbourg House, which Lewis calls "Chartres" in his autobiography.
It was during this time that Lewis abandoned his childhood Christian faith and became an atheist, becoming interested in mythology and the occult.
Lewis experienced a certain cultural shock on first arriving in England: "No Englishman will be able to understand my first impressions of England," Lewis wrote in Surprised by Joy. Yeats, in part because of Yeats's use of Ireland's Celtic heritage in poetry. He writes plays and poems of rare spirit and beauty about our old Irish mythology." Lewis was surprised to find his English peers indifferent to Yeats and the Celtic Revival movement, and wrote: "I am often surprised to find how utterly ignored Yeats is among the men I have met: perhaps his appeal is purely Irish – if so, then thank the gods that I am Irish." Early in his career, Lewis considered sending his work to the major Dublin publishers, writing: "If I do ever send my stuff to a publisher, I think I shall try Maunsel, those Dublin people, and so tack myself definitely onto the Irish school." Lewis occasionally expressed a somewhat tongue-in-cheek chauvinism toward the English.
"The strange English accents with which I was surrounded seemed like the voices of demons. I have made up the quarrel since; but at that moment I conceived a hatred for England which took many years to heal." though there is not much evidence that he laboured to learn it. In a letter to a friend, Lewis wrote, "I have here discovered an author exactly after my own heart, whom I am sure you would delight in, W. Describing an encounter with a fellow Irishman, he wrote: "Like all Irish people who meet in England, we ended by criticisms on the invincible flippancy and dullness of the Anglo-Saxon race.
After Lewis returned to Oxford University, he received a First in Honour Moderations (Greek and Latin literature) in 1920, a First in Greats (Philosophy and Ancient History) in 1922, and a First in English in 1923.