He writes of how he began writing in Surprised by Joy:
What drove me to write was the extreme manual clumsiness from which I have always suffered. I attribute it to a physical defect which my brother and I both inherit from our father; we have only one joint in the thumb....As a last resource, as a pis aller, I was driven to write stories instead; little dreaming to what a world of happiness I was being admitted. You can do more with a castle in a story than with the best cardboard castle that ever stood on a nursery table.
I soon staked out a claim to one of the attics and made it "my study." Pictures, of my won making or cut from the brightly coloured Christmas numbers of magazines, were nailed on the walls. There I kept my pen and inkpot and writing books and paintbox; and there
What more felicity can fall to creature
Than to enjoy delight with liberty?
Here my first stories were written, and illustrated, with enormous satisfaction. They were an attempt to combine my two chief literary pleasures-"dressed animals" and "knights in armour."