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Lewis Carroll (Льюіс Керол)

Pseudonym Lewis Carroll

Born 27 January 1832Daresbury, Cheshire, England

Died 14 January 1898 (aged 65)Guildford, Surrey, England

Occupation Author, Mathematician, Anglican Clergyman, Photographer,
Logician

Nationality British

Genres Children’s literature, Fantasy literature, Poetry

Notable work(s) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the
Looking-Glass, «The Hunting of the Snark», «Jabberwocky»

The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (IPA: /?d?ds?n/) (27 January 1832
– 14 January 1898), better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll
(/?kaer?l/), was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican
clergyman and photographer.

His most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its
sequel Through the Looking-Glass as well as the poems «The Hunting of
the Snark» and «Jabberwocky», all considered to be within the genre of
literary nonsense.

His facility at word play, logic, and fantasy has delighted audiences
ranging from children to the literary elite, and beyond this his work
has become embedded deeply in modern culture, directly influencing many
artists.

There are societies dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of his
works and the investigation of his life in many parts of the world
including North America, Japan, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

Early life

Antecedents

Dodgson’s family was predominantly northern English, with Irish
connections. Conservative and High Church Anglican, most of Dodgson’s
ancestors were army officers or Church of England clergymen. His
great-grandfather, also Charles Dodgson, had risen through the ranks of
the church to become a preacher. His grandfather, another Charles, had
been an army captain, killed in action in 1803 when his two sons were
hardly more than babies.

The elder of these sons — yet another Charles — was Carroll’s father. He
reverted to the other family business and took holy orders. He went to
Rugby School, and thence to Christ Church, Oxford. He was mathematically
gifted and won a double first degree, which could have been the prelude
to a brilliant academic career. Instead he married his first cousin in
1827 and retired into obscurity as a country parson [1] Young Charles’
father was an active and highly conservative clergyman of the Anglican
church who involved himself, sometimes influentially, in the intense
religious disputes that were dividing the Anglican church. He was High
Church, inclining to Anglo-Catholicism, an admirer of Newman and the
Tractarian movement, and he did his best to instill such views in his
children. Young Charles, however, was to develop an ambiguous
relationship with his father’s values and with the Anglican church as a
whole.[2]

Young Charles

Dodgson was born in the little parsonage of Daresbury in Cheshire, the
oldest boy but already the third child of the four-and-a-half year old
marriage. Eight more were to follow and, remarkably for the time, all of
them — seven girls and four boys (including Edwin H. Dodgson) — survived
into adulthood. When Charles was 11, his father was given the living of
Croft-on-Tees in north Yorkshire, and the whole family moved to the
spacious Rectory. This remained their home for the next twenty-five
years.

During the earlier times in his life, young Dodgson was educated at
home. His «reading lists» preserved in the family testify to a
precocious intellect: at the age of seven the child was reading The
Pilgrim’s Progress. He also suffered from a stammer — a condition shared
by his siblings — that often influenced his social life throughout his
years. At twelve he was sent away to a small private school at nearby
Richmond, where he appears to have been happy and settled. But in 1845,
young Dodgson moved on to Rugby School, where he was evidently less
happy, for as he wrote some years after leaving the place:

I cannot say … that any earthly considerations would induce me to go
through my three years again … I can honestly say that if I could have
been … secure from annoyance at night, the hardships of the daily life
would have been comparative trifles to bear.[3]

Scholastically, though, he excelled with apparent ease. «I have not had
a more promising boy his age since I came to Rugby» observed R.B. Mayor,
the Mathematics master.[3]

Oxford

He left Rugby at the end of 1849 and, after an interval that remains
unexplained, went on in January 1851 to Oxford, attending his father’s
old college, Christ Church. He had only been at Oxford two days when he
received a summons home. His mother had died of «inflammation of the
brain» — perhaps meningitis or a stroke — at the age of forty-seven.[4]

His early academic career veered between high-octane promise and
irresistible distraction. He may not always have worked hard, but he was
exceptionally gifted and achievement came easily to him. In 1852 he
received a first in Honour Moderations, and shortly after he was
nominated to a Studentship, by his father’s old friend Canon Edward
Pusey. However, a little later he failed an important scholarship
through his self-confessed inability to apply himself to study. Even so,
his talent as a mathematician won him the Christ Church Mathematical
Lectureship, which he continued to hold for the next twenty-six years.
The income was good, but the work bored him. Many of his pupils were
older and richer than he was, and almost all of them were uninterested.
However, despite early unhappiness, Dodgson was to remain at Christ
Church, in various capacities, until his death.[5]

Character and appearance

Physical appearance

The young adult Charles Dodgson was about six feet tall, slender and
handsome, with curling brown hair and blue or gray eyes (depending on
the account). He was described in later life as somewhat asymmetrical,
and as carrying himself rather stiffly and awkwardly, though this may be
on account of a knee injury sustained in middle age. As a very young
child, he suffered a fever that left him deaf in one ear. At the age of
seventeen, he suffered a severe attack of whooping cough, which was
probably responsible for his chronically weak chest in later life.
Another defect he carried into adulthood was what he referred to as his
«hesitation», a stammer he acquired in early childhood and which plagued
him throughout his life.[6]

Stammer

The stammer has always been a potent part of the conceptions of Dodgson;
it is part of the belief that he stammered only in adult company and was
free and fluent with children, but there is no evidence to support this
idea.[7] Many children of his acquaintance remembered the stammer while
many adults failed to notice it. Dodgson himself seems to have been far
more acutely aware of it than most people he met; it is said he
caricatured himself as the Dodo in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,
referring to his difficulty in pronouncing his last name, but this is
one of the many «facts» oft-repeated, for which no firsthand evidence
remains. He did indeed refer to himself as the dodo, but that this was a
reference to his stammer is simply speculation[8]

Personality

Although Dodgson’s stammer troubled him, it was never so debilitating
that it prevented him from applying his other personal qualities to do
well in society. At a time when people commonly devised their own
amusements and when singing and recitation were required social skills,
the young Dodgson was well-equipped to be an engaging entertainer. He
could sing tolerably well and was not afraid to do so before an
audience. He was adept at mimicry and storytelling, and was, reputedly,
quite good at charades.[9]

Dodgson was also quite socially ambitious and anxious to make his mark
on the world as a writer or an artist. In the interim between his early
published writing and the success of the Alice books, he began to move
in the Pre-Raphaelite social circle. His scholastic career may well have
been intended as something of a stop-gap on the way to other more
exciting achievements. He first met John Ruskin in 1857 and became
friendly with him. He developed a close relationship with Dante Gabriel
Rossetti and his family, and also knew William Holman Hunt, John Everett
Millais, and Arthur Hughes among other artists. He also knew the
fairy-tale author George MacDonald well — it was the enthusiastic
reception of Alice by the young MacDonald children that convinced him to
submit the work for publication[10][11].

Dodgson the artist

The author

From a young age, Dodgson wrote poetry and short stories, both
contributing heavily to the family magazine Mischmasch and later sending
them to various magazines, enjoying moderate success. Between 1854 and
1856, his work appeared in the national publications, The Comic Times
and The Train, as well as smaller magazines like the Whitby Gazette and
the Oxford Critic. Most of this output was humorous, sometimes
satirical, but his standards and ambitions were exacting. «I do not
think I have yet written anything worthy of real publication (in which I
do not include the Whitby Gazette or the Oxonian Advertiser), but I do
not despair of doing so some day», he wrote in July 1855[12].

In 1856 he published his first piece of work under the name that would
make him famous. A romantic poem called «Solitude» appeared in The Train
under the authorship of «Lewis Carroll». This pseudonym was a play on
his real name; Lewis was the anglicised form of Ludovicus, which was the
Latin for Lutwidge, and Carroll being an anglicised version of Carolus,
the Latin for Charles[13].

Alice

«The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo»

In the same year, 1856, a new Dean, Henry Liddell, arrived at Christ
Church, bringing with him his young family, all of whom would figure
largely in Dodgson’s life and, over the following years, greatly
influence his writing career. Dodgson became close friends with
Liddell’s wife, Lorina, and their children, particularly the three
sisters: Lorina, Edith and Alice Liddell. He was for many years widely
assumed to have derived his own «Alice» from Alice Liddell. This was
given some apparent substance by the fact the acrostic poem at the end
of Through the Looking Glass spells out her name, and that there are
many superficial references to her hidden in the text of both books.
Dodgson himself, however, repeatedly denied in later life that his
«little heroine» was based on any real child,[14] [15] and frequently
dedicated his works to girls of his acquaintance and added their names
in acrostic poems at the beginning of the text. Gertrude Chataway’s name
appears in this form at the beginning of The Hunting of the Snark, and
no one has ever suggested this means any of the characters in the
narrative are based on her[16].

Though information is scarce (Dodgson’s diaries for the years 1858–1862
are missing), it does seem clear that his friendship with the Liddell
family was an important part of his life in the late 1850s, and he grew
into the habit of taking the children (first the boy, Harry, and later
the three girls) on rowing trips to nearby Nuneham Courtenay or
Godstow[17] .

It was on one such expedition, on July 4, 1862, that Dodgson invented
the outline of the story that eventually became his first and largest
commercial success. Having told the story and been begged by Alice
Liddell to write it down, Dodgson eventually (after much delay)
presented her with a handwritten, illustrated manuscript entitled
Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in November 1864[18].

Before this, the family of friend and mentor George MacDonald read
Dodgson’s incomplete manuscript, and the enthusiasm of the MacDonald
children encouraged Dodgson to seek publication. In 1863, he had taken
the unfinished manuscript to Macmillan the publisher, who liked it
immediately. After the possible alternative titles Alice Among the
Fairies and Alice’s Golden Hour were rejected, the work was finally
published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 under the Lewis
Carroll pen name, which Dodgson had first used some nine years earlier
[19]. The illustrations this time were by Sir John Tenniel; Dodgson
evidently thought that a published book would need the skills of a
professional artist.

The overwhelming commercial success of the first Alice book changed
Dodgson’s life in many ways. The fame of his alter ego «Lewis Carroll»
soon spread around the world. He was inundated with fan mail and with
sometimes unwanted attention. He also began earning quite substantial
sums of money. However, he didn’t use this income as a means of
abandoning his seemingly disliked post at Christ Church[20].

In 1872, a sequel — Through the Looking-Glass — was published. Its
somewhat darker mood possibly reflects the changes in Dodgson’s life.
His father had recently died (1868), plunging him into a depression that
would last some years[21].

The Hunting of the Snark

In 1876, Dodgson produced his last great work, The Hunting of the Snark,
a fantastic «nonsense» poem, exploring the adventures of a bizarre crew
of variously inadequate beings, and one beaver, who set off to find the
eponymous creature. The painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti reputedly became
convinced the poem was about him[22].

The photographer

Photo of Alice Liddell taken by Lewis Carroll (1858).

In 1856, Dodgson took up the new art form of photography, first under
the influence of his uncle Skeffington Lutwidge, and later his Oxford
friend Reginald Southey.

He soon excelled at the art and became a well-known
gentleman-photographer, and he seems even to have toyed with the idea of
making a living out of it in his very early years [23].

A recent study by Roger Taylor and Edward Wakeling[24] exhaustively
lists every surviving print, and Taylor calculates that just over fifty
percent of his surviving work depicts young girls. He would later use
many of his photographs of children in conjunction with his writings to
add illustration to his work. Alexandra Kitchin, known as «Xie»
(pronounced «Ecksy»), was his favourite photographic subject. From 1869
until he gave up photography in 1880, Dodgson photographed her at least
fifty times, ending just before her sixteenth birthday. Less than a
third of his original portfolio has survived[25], however; Dodgson also
made many studies of men, women, male children and landscapes; his
subjects also include skeletons, dolls, dogs, statues and paintings,
trees, scholars, scientists, old men and little girls. His studies of
nude children were long presumed lost, but six have since surfaced, four
of which have been published.

Photo of John Everett Millais and his wife Effie Gray with two of their
children, signed by Effie (c. 1860)

He also found photography to be a useful entree into higher social
circles. During the most productive part of his career, he made
portraits of notable sitters such as John Everett Millais, Ellen Terry,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Julia Margaret Cameron, Michael Faraday and
Alfred, Lord Tennyson[26].

Dodgson abruptly ceased to photograph in 1880. Over 24 years, he had
completely mastered the medium, set up his own studio on the roof of Tom
Quad, and created around 3,000 images. Fewer than 1,000 have survived
time and deliberate destruction. His reasons for abandoning photography
remain uncertain.

With the advent of Modernism tastes changed, and his photography was
forgotten from around 1920 until the 1960s. He is now considered by many
to be one of the very best Victorian photographers, and is certainly the
one who has had the most influence on modern art photographers.

The inventor

To promote letter writing, Dodgson invented The Wonderland Postage-Stamp
Case in 1889. This was a cloth-backed folder with twelve slots, two
marked for inserting the then most commonly used 1d. stamp, and one each
for the other current denominations to 1s. The folder was then put into
a slip case decorated with a picture of Alice on the front and the
Cheshire Cat on the back. All could be conveniently carried in a pocket
or purse. When issued it also included a copy of Carroll’s pamphletted
lecture, Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing.[27][28][29]

Another invention is a writing tablet called the Nyctograph for use at
night that allowed for note-taking in the dark; thus eliminating the
trouble of getting out of bed and striking a light when one wakes with
an idea. The device consisted of a gridded card with sixteen squares and
system of symbols representing an alphabet of Dodgson’s design.

Among the games he devised outside of logic, croquet, billiards and
those played on a chess board, there are a number of word games,
including an early version of what today is known as Scrabble. He also
appears to have invented, or at least certainly popularised, the Word
Ladder (or «doublet» as it was known at first); a form of brain-teaser
that is still popular today: the game of changing one word into another
by altering one letter at a time, each successive change always
resulting in a genuine word. For instance, CAT is transformed into DOG
by the following steps: CAT, COT, DOT, DOG [30]

Other items include a rule for finding the day of the week for any date;
a means for justifying right margins on a typewriter; a steering device
for a velociam (a type of tricycle); new systems of parliamentary
representation; more nearly fair elimination rules for tennis
tournaments; a new sort of postal money order; rules for reckoning
postage; rules for a win in betting; rules for dividing a number by
various divisors; a cardboard scale for the college common room he
worked in later in life, which held, next to a glass, insured the right
amount of liqueur for the price paid; a double sided adhesive strip for
things like the fastening of envelopes or mounting things in books; a
device for helping a bedridden invalid to read from a book placed
sideways; and at least two ciphers. [31].

Richard Grey’s Memoria Technica and John Jaques In Statu Quo traveling
chess set have at times been mistakenly credited to Dodgson.

The later years

Over the remaining twenty years of his life, throughout his growing
wealth and fame, his existence remained little changed. He continued to
teach at Christ Church until 1881, and remained in residence there until
his death. His last novel, the two-volume Sylvie and Bruno, was
published in 1889 and 1893 respectively. Its extraordinary convolutions
and apparent confusion baffled most readers and it achieved little
success. It does contain an extremely concise account of three-valued
logic when Bruno counts «about a thousand and four» pigs because he is
certain about the four but estimates the remainder. In three-valued
logic, unknown plus four = unknown (see Null (SQL)).

He died on January 14, 1898 at his sisters’ home, ‘The Chestnuts’ in
Guildford, of pneumonia following influenza. He was 2 weeks away from
turning 66 years old. He is buried in Guildford at the Mount
Cemetery[32].

Controversies and mysteries

The possibility of drug use

Many people have interpreted the encounters and events in the Alice
books as hallucinations, usually noting the drinking of tea, consumption
of mushrooms and the hookah smoking caterpillar, as references to
psychedelic substances. The suggestion of drug use made him extremely
popular to the counterculture of the 1960s, often being utilized by drug
users as a positive way of showing the mainstream that one of their most
famous and highly regarded writers also used these forbidden substances.

However, there is no evidence that he ever abused drugs. It is true that
the standard domestic painkiller of the time, laudanum, was in fact a
tincture of opium and could produce a «high» if used in a large enough
dose[33] and that Dodgson, most historians would agree, probably used it
from time to time, but again there is no evidence he ever abused it or
that its effects had any impact on his work.

The priesthood

Dodgson had been groomed for the ordained ministry in the Anglican
Church from a very early age and was expected, as a condition of his
residency at Christ Church, to take holy orders within four years of
obtaining his master’s degree. However, he evidently became reluctant to
do this. He delayed the process for some time but eventually took
deacon’s orders in December 1861. But when the time came a year later to
progress to priestly orders, Dodgson appealed to the dean for permission
not to proceed. This was against college rules, and Dean Liddell told
him he would very likely have to leave his job if he refused to take
orders. He told Dodgson he would have to consult the college ruling
body, which would almost undoubtedly have resulted in his being
expelled. However, for unknown reasons, Dean Liddell changed his mind
and permitted Dodgson to remain at the college, in defiance of the
rules.[34] Dodgson never became a priest.

There is currently no conclusive evidence about why Dodgson rejected the
priesthood. Some have suggested his stammer made him reluctant to take
the step, because he was afraid of having to preach,[citation needed]
but this seems unlikely given his willingness to take on other public
performances (story-telling, recitations, magic lantern shows), and the
fact that he did indeed preach in later life, even though not in
orders.[citation needed] Others have suggested that he was having
serious doubts about the Anglican church.[citation needed] It is known
that he was interested in minority forms of Christianity (he was an
admirer of FD Maurice) and «alternative» religions (theosophy).[citation
needed] Dodgson was deeply troubled by an unexplained sense of sin and
guilt at this time (the early 1860s), and frequently expressed the view
in his diaries that he was a «vile and worthless» sinner, unworthy of
the priesthood.[35]

The missing diaries

At least four complete volumes[36] and around seven pages[37] of text
are missing from Dodgson’s 13 diaries. The loss of the volumes remains
unexplained; the pages have been deliberately removed by an unknown
hand. Most scholars assume the diary material was removed by family
members in the interests of preserving the family name, but this has not
been proven.[38] All of the missing material, except for a single page,
is believed to date from the period between 1853 (when Dodgson was 22)
and 1863 (when he was 32).[39]

Many theories have been put forward to explain the missing material. A
popular explanation for one particular missing page (June 27, 1863) is
that it might have been torn out to conceal the fact that Dodgson had
proposed marriage on that day to the 11-year old Alice Liddell. However,
there has never been any evidence to suggest this was so, and a
paper[40] that came to light in the Dodgson family archive in 1996
provides some evidence to the contrary.

The «Cut Pages in Diary» document

The «cut pages in diary» document, in the Dodgson family archive in
Woking, UK.

This paper, known as the «cut pages in diary document», was compiled by
various members of Carroll’s family after his death. Part of it at least
was presumably written at the time that some of the pages were being
mutilated, as it offers a brief summary of two diary pages that are now
missing, including the one for June 27, 1863. The summary for this page
states that Mrs. Liddell told Dodgson there was gossip circulating about
him and the Liddell family’s governess, as well as about his
relationship with «Ina», presumably Alice’s older sister, Lorina
Liddell. The «break» with the Liddell family that occurred soon after
was presumably in response to this gossip.[41][42] An alternate
interpretation has been made regarding Carroll’s rumored involvement
with «Ina»: Lorina was also the name of Alice Liddell’s mother. What is
deemed most crucial and surprising is that the entry seems to make it
clear Dodgson’s break with the family was not connected with Alice at
all.

Migraine and Epilepsy

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Dodgson also suffered a single attack of what he called an
«epileptiform» seizure. Some have concluded from this he was a lifetime
sufferer from this condition, but there is no evidence for it in any of
his diaries or letters, and it would seem unlikely for this to be the
case if he had indeed suffered regular seizures[44].

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