I highly recommend this article by Maria Sachiko Cecire in Aeon: “Empire of fantasy.” As the description suggests, Tolkien and Lewis’s influence extends to today. “By conquering young minds, the writing of J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis worked to recapture a world that was swiftly ebbing away.” Addressing issues as wide-ranging as Oxford education and racist appropriation of medieval symbols, Cecire is thought-provoking about important issues.
“Tolkien and Lewis identified salvation in the authentic, childlike enjoyment of adventure and fairy stories, especially ones set in medieval lands. And so, armed with the unlikely weapons of medievalism and childhood, they waged a campaign that hinged on spreading the fantastic in both popular and scholarly spheres. Improbably, they were extraordinarily successful in leaving far-reaching marks on the global imagination by launching an alternative strand of writing that first circulated amongst child readers.”
The article was adapted from material published in Re-Enchanted: The Rise of Children’s Fantasy Literature in the Twentieth Century (2019) by Maria Sachiko Cecire.