The name Douglas Gresham may not be on everyone’s lips, but his stepfather is a household name in English literature, whose mantle Douglas has inherited.
That stepfather is C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia which have been enjoyed in print, audiobook and television and film adaptations, and it’s Douglas who has been responsible for the film versions of the stories.
Douglas himself has played many roles—farmer, broadcaster, actor, voice-over artist, biographer and film producer. He is also a dedicated Christian, who learned much about his faith from the example set for him by Lewis (known
to Douglas and the family by his nickname Jack).
“Jack never lectured or preached at me. He lived his Christianity so visibly he didn’t have to,“ Douglas told cbn.com.
“I was always someone who believed in God and Jesus. I think if you’re a committed Christian, your responsibility in life is to constantly attempt to be the answer to other people’s prayers—Jack did that as best he could all the time,” Douglas recalls.
Young Douglas came into Lewis’s life as a small boy, when his Jewish mother Joy converted to Christianity through the influence of Lewis’s book Mere Christianity, and travelled to England to meet her hero. Douglas himself was a fan of Lewis’s Narnia books, and was overawed at meeting the great writer.
After Joy’s American marriage foundered, Lewis married her in name so she could remain in England. As time went on, the ageing bachelor fell in love with the feisty, attractive American and they were later married again by an Anglican priest.
Douglas became extremely close to his stepfather when Joy died from bone cancer, as they had both lost the person they loved most in the world.
After completing his education as an agricultural student in England, Douglas worked on a farm in Somerset where he met his future wife Merrie who was visiting from Australia. Love intervened and they were married in 1967 and then spent many years in Australia, first as dairy farmers in Tasmania, before they moved to Western Australia where Douglas became a broadcaster and television personality.
Douglas takes his role as guardian of his stepfather’s works very seriously, as co-producer of three Narnia films, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; and Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
“I’m doing my best to protect Jack’s works in this time when I’m alive before the copyrights run out, to make sure that everything that can be done has been done well before someone trashes it,” Douglas told cbn.com.
Storytelling is a passion Douglas shares with Lewis.
“It is the most powerful medium for getting messages across, because it’s all we have. How else do you do it? Someone said to me once, ‘The Bible is just a book written by men’. And I said, ‘Well, what you want God to use? Sea slugs?’” he said.
“The best way to get ethereal ideas across is to tell stories in which they operate. This is probably why Jesus used parables to such effect. And he was the master of the art, so if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.”
The legacy of C.S. Lewis is in safe hands with Douglas Gresham taking care of it.