Back in the 1960s a little girl of nine who was deeply in love with Narnia wrote a book of short stories. Written in spiky blue ink with various crossings-out and spelling mistakes, Katherine Langrish’s Tales of Narnia filled an old hard-cover notebook from front to back. Some of the stories were illustrated with dramatic, poster-painted scenes, and Katherine drew a map of Narnia on the inside back cover.
Now a celebrated adult writer of children’s and young adult’s literature, Langrish has revisited C. S. Lewis’s Seven Chronicles of Narnia to explore what they mean to her today. In From Spare Oom to War Drobe she analyses what once enchanted her and asks whether it still has the power to do so. Hand in hand with her nine year-old self, she traces many paths through Lewis’s thick forest of allusions not only to Christianity, but to Plato, fairy tales, myths, legends, medieval romances, renaissance poetry and indeed to other children’s books.
Here are two very different ways of reading the Narnia stories: the adult, informed, rational way and the passionate childish way. For whenever children fall in love with a book they love it fiercely, loyally, completely; and as anyone it’s ever happened to will know, it can be a transformative experience.
The Foreword has been written by award-winning writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley, who dramatised the BBC radio adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia, and wrote Shadowlands, a biography of C. S. Lewis.
Katherine Langrish is a successful author of fantasy for children and young adults (including the Troll Trilogy, Harper Collins), and also a writer of critical essays on fairy tales, folklore, and authors such as Mervyn Peake and Alan Garner.