Lewis Carroll

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Lewis Carroll: known to many as being a man of mystery, including those who knew him personally, and those who only knew him through his pseudonym. He uses nonsensical concepts and words in his stories in order to create a mood of whimsy and fantasy allowing the reader a certain degree of freedom in his or her interpretation of Carroll's meaning; of all of Carroll’s works, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland stands uniquely in the category of nonsense literature. Many authors argue over the contrasts of the novel with the standard “moralistic” children’s literature of the Victorian times. Even though it contrasts thusly, it becomes even odder knowing that it was written by a Victorian gentleman (no matter what opiates he ingested.)

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson Lewis Carroll’s actual name was born on January 27, 1832. He lived a pleasant childhood, interacting mostly with his seven sisters and not his three brothers, he was considered the “…master of ceremonies, inventor of games, magician, marionette theater manager, and editor of family journals…” as stated by Martin Gardner. Carroll was the oldest son to Frances June Lutwidge, first cousin to his father Reverend Charles Dodgson.

At age twelve, Carroll was sent away to a private school, Danbury, near Richmond. A few years later in 1845, his family moved him from the private school life, into the public life of Rugby. Only in attendance for two days there, he received a devastating telegram: his mother had passed away from supposed inflammation of the brain, giving her a stroke at the age of forty-seven.

Carroll was motivated from the passing of his mother; he reached higher than ever. In the Christ High Church College he became a mathematician, majoring in the arts of math; he earned his bachelor’s and master’s in little time. Soon after, he began teaching mathematics in Oxford. During all of this, he was ordained a deacon of the Church of England, much like his father and grandfather before him.

In total, he spent 47 years at the Oxford school, from being a student to being a mathematical professor. Even after retiring he became a “curator of the Senior Common Room” for ten years. Throughout those years, he published mathematical and symbolical texts, including The Game of Logic (1886) and Symbolic Logic, Parts 1 & 2 (1886, 1887).

In 1856, Carroll took up another career. Although he loved math, and thoroughly enjoyed the income, he found the job lackluster. Many of his pupils didn’t share the same love for the subject that he did, uninterested. Carroll followed up by taking up photography.

His most influential focus of photography, child photography specifically, was Alice Liddell. While taking pictures of the Christ Church Cathedral from the deanery of the college, he came across young Alice and her two sisters, daughters of the Dean. From that day, he held a close relation with the three little girls.

Mrs. Liddell though wasn’t happy with the relationship; she was “rather suspicious of his motives for associating with her children.” Nonetheless, Carroll was permitted to escort the girls on daytrips.

During the afternoon of July 4, 1862, the story that would become known as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was told for the first time. The young Alice enjoyed the story so much that she wanted recognition within the story. By February 10, 1963, the manuscript had been finished, with Alice embedded in the story forever.

Lewis Carroll refused to publish any unserious, non-melancholic works under his birth name, or at least his editor thought that he needed a name that wasn’t too journalistic. Carroll broke apart the name “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson”, and threw together hundreds of anagrams. He wanted to then keep his penname away from his birth name. Lewis Carroll would forever be the mysterious character living in a shadowy world of fantasy, and Charles Dodgson would be the...
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