Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Screwtape Letters

This month marks the 75th anniversary of The Screwtape Letters being first published in England. For those of you unfamiliar with the book, written by C.S. Lewis, it is a Christian apologetic novel written as a series of letters from a Senior Demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. There are thirty-one missives that give advice on how to undermine faith and promote sin in “The Patient.” Some of the letters were published in the Anglican periodical, The Guardian between May and November 1941.

Born in Belfast, Ireland in 1891, Lewis lived there until 1917 when he attended Oxford University as a scholarship student. Shortly thereafter he was drafted and sent to France. Wounded on April 15, 1918, Lewis was sent to England to recuperate. Afterwards he was assigned to Andover. A month after the war’s end, he was discharged and returned to studying at Oxford. He would ultimately get his degree and end up teaching English at Magdelen College (part of Oxford) for twenty-nine years.

Influenced by his friend J.R.R. Tolkein, Lewis converted to Christianity in 1931. His apologetic work began five years later with the publication of The Allegory of Love. Eight more books were published during WWII, and then an additional twelve between 1947 and 1963 (the year of his death.) Considered one of the most influential Christian apologetists in modern day, with The Times listed Lewis number eleven in their list of “The 50 Greatest British Writers since 1945.” The success of The Screwtape Letters may be partially responsible for that.

Adapted to a stage production in 1961 called Dear Wormwood, the setting is changed to wartime London, and the ending is also changed. Anthony Lawton’s adaptation has been staged several times since 2000. The Fellowship for Performing Arts secured rights to adapt The Screwtape Letters and opened off Broadway in 2006. Seventy five years after its initial publication, a new production of The Screwtape Letters was staged this year in New York and London. I’d like to think Lewis would be pleased not so much for the recognition but that his apologetics are reaching the masses.

A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett writes historical fiction. Her novellas Love’s Harvest and Love Found in Sherwood Forest are available on AmazonShe is currently seeking a publisher for her series about WWII war correspondent Ruth Brown. Visit her at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com


  1. Linda, thank you for sharing this blog post about the anniversary of Screwtape letters and C.S. Lewis. I had not heard about The Screwtape Letters being staged this year. Yes, he would be glad to know his apologetics are still alive for others to hear the Word.

  2. Great post and a wonderful anniversary to commemorate! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I've always liked C.S. Lewis . Great information.