Narnia inspired author
An Umbrian hill-town is celebrating
after finally receiving 'proof' that it provided Irish author C. S.
Lewis with the inspiration for his classic children's fantasy series The Chronicles of
The town of Narni, 50 miles north of Rome, was known as Narnia in Roman times and it had
long been rumoured that Lewis, a widely read English professor at Oxford, named his
fictitious kingdom after the ancient Roman town he read about while studying Latin
But Lewis's former personal secretary and biographer, Walter Hooper, has now given local
author Giuseppe Fortunati a copy of a Latin atlas of Italy that belonged to Lewis in which
he had underlined Narnia.
''Lewis was passionate about Roman history and in the atlas he traced the routes of the
armies, highlighting the Flaminia Roman road and Narnia in particular,'' said Fortunati,
who has written a book exploring the connections between real-life Narni and the mythical
realm of Narnia.
''Hooper said Lewis told him he had been inspired by it for his Chronicles''.
Fortunati said the atlas also included several pages written in Lewis's handwriting that
still needed to be examined.
Narni, which now has a population of 20,000, dates back to at least 299 BC.
The town is mentioned in the writings of Tacitus, Livy and Pliny the Elder.
Pliny the Younger sent a letter to his mother-in-law saying how nice the baths in her
Narnia villa were.
As far as anyone knows, Lewis never actually went to Narni so the connection probably
stops with the name.
But despite having little in common with Narnia, a land inhabited by dwarfs, speaking
animals and a witch, Narni has made the most of its link with the magical land described
in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
In 2006, when the Disney film based on the 1950s children's book was released, the mayor's
office busied itself working out 'Narnia' guided tours and shop windows in the town were
full of displays inspired by the film.
Local carpenters also reportedly began making wardrobes in the hope of selling them to the
Lewis fans on pilgrimages.
Fortunati said Hooper told him it was also possible Lewis had been inspired by Blessed
Lucia of Narni, a 16th-century visionary who received signs of the stigmata, for Lucy, one
of the leading child characters in the Chronicles.
''But in this case Hooper explained that this was just his hypothesis because Lewis never
told him anything,'' Fortunati said.
Hooper, a Catholic, was in Narni to pick up a relic of Blessed Lucia from a town church
that will go on show in Oxford's Oratory church.
Narnia inspired author
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