MuggleNet Academia: ‘The Lion, the Witch, & the Broomstick’ Elizabeth Baird Hardy Talks about C. S. Lewis and Hogwarts Deputy Headmistress and C. S. Lewis scholar Elizabeth Baird-Hardy joined Keith Hawk and myself for another look at the influence of C. S. Lewis on Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. The occasion? The 50th anniversary observances of the Narnian’s death in 1963.

For more on that, our sister site,, is hosting a month long discussion of this topic! Enjoy the podcast above and the posts!

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  1. I was able to listen to this podcast (my first Mugglenet Academia!) with my 15 and 11 year old daughters. We all enjoyed it. Thanks for the talk about the animals, Elizabeth. We stopped the talk and listed which Pevensie was in what house, right before you made that point, John! This made for some great conversation in my family. Thanks for a well-done program!

  2. So glad you liked it! I love talking Lewis and Harry! I hope you’ll join us here (and there!) again soon!

  3. Great discussion, as always!

    The three Narnia echoes that jumped out at me in were the star-gazing not-for-riding centaurs, the red lion of Aslan/Gryffindor, and the white stag. Now that I’ve read a bit more, the stag seems to be a very well-known British medieval symbol, but as a younger American reader, I think I had only read of stags in these two series.

    The idea that Rowling particularly liked Voyage/Eustace got me thinking of echoes specifically from that book. The boggarts and Dark Island seem to have a similar effect. Gumpas’ government of the Lone Islands compares somewhat to Fudge’s Ministry of Magic. And Eustace (at the beginning of his journey) seems to have a lot in common with the Dursleys.

    Other than alchemy and ring composition, does Rowling echo any of Lewis’ other works?

  4. Other than alchemy and ring composition, does Rowling echo any of Lewis’ other works?

    I’m going to assume – because of your reference to alchemy and ring writing — by “works” you mean “artifices” or “literary techniques.” Let me know if I misread you!

    I’d say there are three other keys to Joanne Rowling’s writing that can be traced back to her close reading of CSL (and JRRT). One is a smuggled gospel that is much less evangelical in intention than transformational, i.e., experience of the referent via traditional symbolism. I’m not wanting to say JKR baptizes the imagination, but she sure lays the groundwork for a Eustace-like change of heart.

    The other, perhaps included in the above, is her use of the soul triptych. CSL does this in the Space Trilogy as does JRRT in LOTR, but neither, I think, with the success and focus that Rowling does with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

    The last, which Rowling could have discovered on her own or in myriad other writers, is her remarkable capacity for and achievement in creating a genre melange. Just as the Chronicles are not fairy tales, portal fantasies, alchemical/astrological dramas, Christian allegory or Children’s adventure stories but all of these brilliantly and simultaneously, so the Hogwarts Saga, as I explain in Harry Potter’s Bookshelf is a blending of ten genres into a new take on the orphan bildungsroman and Schoolboy Novel.

    I hope that helps!

  5. It does help, although that wasn’t what I was trying to ask. But it’s probably more accurate to say that I miswrote the question than to say you misread it.

    I’ll try again: What (if anything) do you think Rowling borrows from Lewis’ non-Narnia stories/books? (Given Rowling’s theme of love, i.e., do you think she’s drawn from The Four Loves?) The talk had already covered the ring composition and alchemy from the Space trilogy.

    Good to hear about the soul triptych; I hadn’t thought about Lewis’ characters in that way.

  6. I’ve often tinkered with the thought of looking at the poetry of Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling, as both JKR and her predecessors here are primarily known as novelists who dabble in poetry for narrative purposes. Yet Lewis longed to be a poet in his youth, and, to my mind, is a better poet than the folks who brought us the Sorting Hat songs and Tom Bombadil (one of my colleagues, who just loves Tom, finds it amusing that he is the reason it took me four tries and ten years to get through The Fellowship of the Ring). I have noticed some overlaps from the poetry. Check out “The Phoenix,” one of my favorites of Lewis’s, and see what you make of the Fawkes possibilities, as well as the issues of pride and the temptations of being “the Chosen One”!
    Also, Lewis’s fabulous Til we Have Faces takes on mythology is much the same way as Rowling, seeing the human story beneath the cold myths. Just as Lewis takes the nameless ugly sister of Psyche and turns her into a fascinating and complex character, Rowling takes Merope, adopted mother of Oedipus (a guy with prophecy problems), and gives her name to mopey Merope Riddle, whose son has prophecy problems…:)
    Just starters! I wonder what we could confirm that she has read of Lewis’s work! Wouldn’t that be super!?

  7. O.K. I have nothing to add substantively to the discussion, but wanted to vocalize that this is one of my favorite MuggleNet Academia to date. Wonderful guests (as always) with Dr. Hardy and Eric. Insightful dialogue. Not only did it open up parts of the Hogwarts saga, but also the Narnia chronicles. Great job.

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