Lucy, Owen, Maud, Jeffrey – 1946 in Cornwall. The 1st and 3rd Narnia books are dedicated to the Barfield children.

Lucy Barfield and Narnia

It is to be expected that writers will have a muse, and it seems that Lucy Barfield was that muse for C.S. Lewis.

Lucy was an accomplished dancer, musician, composer, artist and poet. She had a special vitality which inspired both her father and godfather (Barfield and Lewis respectively).

The character of Lucy Pevensie appears to be based in part on Lucy herself, sharing her name, fair hair, and lively personality.

Tragically the year Lewis died was the year Lucy’s illness began: in 1963, aged just 28, Lucy’s fate was to suffer multiple sclerosis for 40 years.  The disease robbed her of all physical capacity and confined her to a hospital bed.

As her strength weakened, she identified more with the Lucy in Narnia. Barfield expressed this with words for her:  “What I could not do for myself the dedication did for me. My Godfather gave me a greater gift than I had imagined.”  Narnia readers wrote hundreds of letters to Lucy, but only two reached her. These two letters gave her great joy and were received with wonder as snow-flakes in the desert.

In spite (or perhaps because) of her debilitating condition, Lucy served as a muse and inspiration to her father, Owen Barfield, representing the Eternal-Feminine, and Wordsworth’s Romantic ideal of a young English girl, in his myth-allegory, The Rose on the Ash-Heap.

Lucy never lost her will for life nor her spiritual strength,  and she far exceeded all the medical prognoses for her debilitating condition. To the end Lucy was a beacon of light, a lit lamp-post in a wintery land.

Lucy born 2nd November
Lucy adopted by Maud & Owen Barfield
c. 1937
Lucy baptised in St. Mary’s-the-Virgin, Primrose Hill, London with C.S. Lewis as her godfather
1937 to 1947
Lucy grew up in North London, but during WW2 the Barfields move back to near Oxford
Barfields move to Uckfield, East Sussex
c. 1949
Lucy’s confirmation at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London
OB is received into the Anglican Church at Uckfield; with Lucy and CSL in attendance
The first Narnia book is published, written for and dedicated to Lucy
c. 1958
Lucy becomes a qualified dance and music teacher 
Public performance of Lucy’s sinfonietta in three movements at Malvern College (CSL’s old school)
Symptoms of illness start
Mid 1960s to mid 1980s
Lucy lives in a series of hospitals and assisted care-homes
Lucy diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, permanently needs to use a wheelchair
1st collection of 26 poems by Lucy printed
c. 1968
Solo exhibition in London of water-colour paintings by Lucy
Lucy marries but outlives her spouse
c. 1980
2nd collection of poems by Lucy
Lucy attends a London theatre performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as the guest of honour
Mid 1980s
Lucy moves permanently to the ‘Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability’ in London
Lucy passes away 3rd May.

Poems by Lucy Barfield

Lucy’s faith and fortitude is felt in two collections of her poems at the Wade Center, Wheaton College.

Am I in love with life? Why not!
My outward wings take me beyond
All mortal, earthly, fleshly things.
It is the growing of a flower
It is the growing of a tree
It is the growing growth of spirit takes me there.
All pain evaporates in air,
All vivid colour too.
The delicacy of life is found
In balance with the heights,
The very living source of life,
The very truth and breath of life
Though visible in seconds here,
And yet is timelessness.

Why make so many doubts
In check and double re-check
When conscience tells you one thing
And you fear to grasp it?

Sometimes there is doubt in mind
And knowledge comes to rescue
In experience and in testing
Such wisdom can be used.

But test too many things
To find the “whys” and “wherefores”
This is not wise! It is not right!
Accept. There is a reason.