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I don't know where the lion came from or why ..but once he was there he pulled the whole story together.. AUTHOR TELLS HOW ASLAN SAVED NARNIA AND HIS CAREER.

Byline: JULIAN BROUWER in New York

TORMENTED author CS Lewis thought he was a literary loser and near ly never even published his beloved Narnia tales until Aslan the lion came to him in a dream, bombshell new letters reveal.

Newly published letters written by the Belfast-born author show that, when he was 50, a deeply depressed Lewis - who kept having nightmares about a strange lion - reckoned his life was over even though he was a respected Oxford academic

"I feel my zeal for writing and whatever talent I originally possessed to be decreasing," he observed in a letter written in 1949. "Nor I believe do I please my readers as I used to."

He said he would probably end up as "one of those men who was a famous writer in his forties and dies unknown".

But after composing that letter, he decided to write something about the strange lion that plagued his dreams and plunged himself into creating The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

It was published to rave reviews just a year later. He wrote a further five Narnia books, all of which are to be made into blockbuster movies.

Fittingly, the lion Aslan is voiced by another famous Irish talent, actor Liam Neeson in the films.

Lewis expresses his wonder at the lion that saved him in The Collected Letters of CS Lewis, edited by his former private secretary and friend Walter Hooper. "I don't know where the lion came from or why he came," Lewis wrote.

"But once he was there he pulled the whole story together, and soon he pulled the six other Narnian stories in after him."

The letters present a picture of a man who had a miserable family life with an alcoholic brother and "horrid old woman" of a mother, yet found happiness in later years with feisty New Yorker Joy Davidman, a romance depicted in the Anthony Hopkins movie Shadow lands.

"I am a hard, cold, black man inside and in my life have not wept enough," he writes in one candid letter.

However, after beginning his relationship with Joy, Lewis was inspired to write the novel Till We Have Faces.

After marrying Davidson, he told his friend Dorothy Sayers in a letter: "My heart is breaking and I was never so happy before: at any rate there is more in life than I knew about. We are crazily in love."

Their romance was tragically shortlived as Joy contracted cancer and eventually died in 1960, three years before Lewis's own death - which was on the same day that President John F Kennedy was shot.

Liam Neeson - the man who brings Lewis's magical lion to life in the movie versions of the Narnia books - can at last look his 11-year-old son in the eye because this time he has actually read all the books.

When Neeson was asked to do the first film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he had to admit he had never read any of Lewis's novels - even though the author lived in Belfast, just 30 miles from where Neeson grew up in Ballymena.

But Liam's son Michael, who loves the Narnia tales, lent his dad a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and has since made him read the entire series.

"I feel kind of ashamed," Neeson said. "They are such beautiful books. Here I am, an Irishman. I was born 30 miles from CS Lewis."

The new Narnia movie Prince Caspian will be filmed in the Czech Republic and is scheduled to be released in 2008.

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World-famous... All six Narnia books are to be turned into movies' Voice... Liam Neeson' Author... Belfast man CS Lewis
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 21, 2007
Words:617
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