Lewis very much enjoyed writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and embarked on the sequel Prince Caspian soon after finishing the first novel. He completed the sequel in less than a year, by the end of 1949. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had not been widely released until 1950; thus his initial enthusiasm did not stem from favourable reception by the public.
While Lewis is known today on the strength of the Narnia stories as a highly successful children’s writer, the initial critical response was muted. At the time it was fashionable for children’s stories to be realistic; fantasy and fairy tales were seen as indulgent, appropriate only for very young readers and potentially harmful to older children, even hindering their ability to relate to everyday life. Some reviewers considered the tale overtly moralistic or the Christian elements over-stated — attempts to indoctrinate children. Others were concerned that the many violent incidents might frighten children.
Lewis’ publisher, Geoffrey Bles, feared the Narnia tales would not sell, and might damage Lewis’ reputation and affect sales of his other books. Nevertheless, the novel and its successors were highly popular with young readers, and Lewis’ publisher was soon anxious to release further Narnia stories.
A 2004 study found that it was a common read-aloud book for seventh-graders in schools in San Diego County, California. The novel was also included on TIME's unranked 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association in the U.S. named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." It was one of the "Top 100 Chapter Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal. A 2012 survey by the University of Worcester determined that it was the second most common book that UK adults had read as children, after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.