Lewis Carroll

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Lewis Carroll | celebrity picturesCharles Lutwidge Dodgson better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican 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.

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 bishop. His grandfather, another Charles, had been an army captain, killed in action in 1803 when his two sons were hardly more than babies. His mother's name was Frances Jane Lutwidge.

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.

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.

Lewis Carroll


Nay said...

Is the last picture for real or photoshopped? :O

Anonymous said...

oh no its for real. There is debate as to whether he was a paedophile or not and that debate like all historical debates will rage on and on. As the spanish say, "History is a meadow in which everyone can make hay".
There is no doubt however that he was extremely friendly with a number of young girls and nearly 50% of images he took,at a time when photography was in its infancy, were of young girls.
We should of course be aware of revisionism and not look at him through 21st century glasses and see him as part of the times he lived in.

Anonymous said...

This photo is clearly photoshopped. I have not identified the source photos but I have studied many pictures by and of Charles Dodgson and have never seen this one or anything like it. Furthermore, if you look at the little girl's hand in particular, you can see that it has been superimposed. Dodgson's hand has been integrated more successfully but if you look at the space between his fingers and the shadows around the fingers it doesn't look quite right. The faces too are unnaturally placed together and this seems like a most unlikely pose.
Charles Dodgson would never have posed for a picture like this, though it is true he took hundreds of photos of little girls, some of them in the nude. If they were at all sexually suggestive it was in a very subtle way and not explicitly as in this picture.
It looks like someone was simply having fun with Charles Dodgson's well-known obsession with little girls.

Anonymous said...

"There is no indication that Carroll was conscious of anything but the purest innocence in his relations with little girls, nor is there a hint of impropriety in any of the fond recollections that dozens of them later wrote about him. He would have been horrified at the suggestion that a sexual element might be involved."

That passage is from page 13 of the introduction of "The Annotated Alice" by Martin Gardner, published by Bramhall House. The bibliography includes 47 MAJOR sources.

The introduction, as quoted above, goes on to state that Dodgson lived a life of "complete sexual innocence."

Any thought or consideration that Dodgson (Carroll) was a pedophile is absolutely absurd and should be dismissed immediately. And, yeah. That picture must be photoshopped. Because I've never seen it, and I would have.

-L. Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

The photo is clearly photoshopped. I have never seen it or any other like it and Dodgson would never have posed for a picture like this. However, the question of Dodgson's sexuality is an interesting one and certainly not settled or dismissed as the above poster implied. This is still a hotly debated issue. Carroll/Dodgson biographer Morton Cohen published the following in 1996:

"We cannot know to what extent sexual urges lay behind Charles's preference for drawing and photographing children in the nude. He contended the preference was entirely aesthetic. But given his emotional attachment to children as well as his aesthetic appreciation of their forms, his assertion that his interest was strictly artistic is naive. He probably felt more than he dared acknowledge, even to himself."

However, it was common in Victorian England for adult men to form friendships with female children and the nude child was considered a symbol of purity and innocence and pictures of nude children were fashionable, all of which is very different from our own attitude and interpretation of such things. This is purportedly the philosophical basis of the Victorian child cult. To what extent this may have been an expression of sublimated or repressed sexual impulse on a broader scale is a matter of pure speculation. One must remember, also, that it was socially acceptable for girls to be romantically available to men at an age that today would have the man branded as a pervert or paedophile. Edgar Allen Poe, for example, married Virginia Clemm (his first cousin) when she was 13 and he was more than twice her age (though debate rages as to whether their marriage was ever consumated and her young age, even at the time, raised eyebrows but was not unacceptable).

Modern scholarship, however, has cast considerable doubt on the claim that Dodgson was asexual and that, as the previous poster quoted, he lived a life of "complete sexual innocence." It is now thought that his family destroyed evidence of his involvement with women to protect his reputation after his death and that, in fact, he did pursue romantic relationships with women though apparantly without much success. Possibly he directed his frustrated sexual impulses into "friendships" with young girls who seemed more accepting of his eccentricities, his stammer, and his awkwardness. He certainly carried on many long-term relationships with numerous young girls and his correspondences often read like love letters (though this language was in keeping with the syle of the time).

Whatever one wants to make of it, Dodgson was certainly infatuated with young girls both emotionally and with the image of their bodies and he frequently photographed them in the nude (while being almost indifferent about young boys). Though this, in and of itself, was not unusual in that era, the extent of Dodgson's interest and activities was exceptional. I think it is important not to throw around terms like "paedophile," either by way of labeling Dodgson or defending him from such a label. This is a modern classification and like all such classifications it is to some extent artificial and arbitrary. According to the DSM IV, a diagnosis of paedophilia requires an ongoing (at least 6 months) period of intense (causing disruption to the subject's life) sexual fantasies or activities involving prepubescent children. Obviously we don't have enough information to determine whether or not Dodgson would be classified as a paedophile by today's standards and it really ought not to be of any concern to us. Whether or not his interest in Alice Liddell was purely platonic or, as biographer Morton Cohen claims, he wanted to marry the 11 year old, it presented the circumstances and motivation for him to create one of the most iconic and loved figures in all modern literature and Alice Liddell herself had nothing but fond memories of her genius friend.

CharlotteMary said...

Yeah, and Charlotte Bronte murdered her sisters and Queen Victoria sponsored Jack the Ripper.
People today cannot take an interest in a historic personnage unless that person is a criminal. Tells how low we've gotten.
This photoshopped picture showing the famous portrait of Lewis Carroll grafted with a photo of Alice. The picture of Alice is from a photo of her and her sisters, taken by Carroll when Alice was 10. She is posed with her Lorina and Edith in a staged setting, eating cherries. This is Alice standing, face raised to eat the cherries her sister Lorina is holding. Edith is sitting on a table next to them, holding a bowl of cherries. The photo was taken about 1862, Alice is 10, Ina, 13, and Edith 7. All the photos Carroll took of the Liddell's are known and accounted for and all would have been vetted by Alice's family.
Nowadays everybody has to be a pedophile or a gay or a criminal. Queen Victoria has to be a murderer. It's really sick. People are so bored with the truth they have to make up absurdities.
Lewis Carroll kept a diary for decades. All of his child friends remember him positively and none have described anything indecent. He himself was an extremely gentl and considerate person, with genuine religious sentiments.
Few people nowadays relate to this. Because they have no noble or sincerely religious feelings, they do not understand those who did.
My suggestion, read the man's diaries, read all his writings and read recollections of him.
An appreciation of child beauty does not a pedophile make.
This photoshopped photo is a lie, cobbled together from two different pictures. This fact alone gives me the creeps in a major way--who would do this and why? I strongly suspect that the real "pedophiles" may well be Carroll's accusers. It's so much more fun for them to believe this.

Steve said...

I agree with CharlotteMary in that there is a fascination with historical figures that invites sometimes unwarranted speculation. However, I think that she may go too far in the opposite direction by dismissing all claims because she doesn't want to believe there may be any truth in them. There is a temptation to exalt historical figures and dismiss that which might be percieved as a shortcoming. I agree that it ought not make any difference to our appreciation of Lewis Carroll and his works but biographers and historians will, and should, try to accurately determine the truth, even if some might not appreciate their conclusions.

I do not know, of course, the exact nature of Lewis Carroll's sexual feelings. However, if a man acted the way he acted today, I'm sure that people would find it highly inappropriate and would brand him, rightly or wrongly, faster than you could blink an eye. That is the nature of our attitude concerning this issue today and I find it fascinating that those who I am sure would be the first to brand someone like Michael Jackson for his interest in children would rush to the defense of a historical figure simply because they would rather not think of them that way. CharlotteMary presents as evidence that Lewis Carroll had no sexual interest in young girls the fact that they all had fond memories of him. But let's look at the case of British composer Benjamin Britten who, in this regard, shares a lot of similarities with Lewis Carroll though his fascination was with boys and not girls. It is well known and documented and nobody contests the fact that Benjamin Britten had a strong sexual attraction to young pubescent and prepubescent boys. Furthermore, he formed long-term "friendships" with dozens of young boys. He even (shades of Michael Jackson) had them stay in his house for sleepovers and he shared his bed with them. Yet not one of these boys has anything to say about him that is not positive. David Hemmings, with whom Britten is said by his friends to have been infatuated, and who even as a child knew that Britten was gay and had an attraction to young boys, had nothing but admiration and respect for Britten, genuinely cared about him, and has always categorically maintained that Britten never acted inappropriately towards him. I bring this up only to demonstrate that being remembered positively by child friends does not, of course, preclude sexual attraction as CharlotteMary implies in the case of Lewis Carroll. This does not prove anything about Lewis Carroll but since this is all that CharlotteMary provides as evidence against the claims, I would suggest she has not made her case.

This is not an attempt to defame Lewis Carroll, who I greatly admire; nor is it an attempt to indulge in idle gossip and speculation. Having majored in a category of history, I have an interest in determining the facts of the past not out of malice but out of sincere fascination and the pursuit of accuracy. I really couldn't care less whether or not Lewis Carroll had a strong sexual motivation in his actions; it would explain a lot however and the evidence is highly suggestive. If this was a less sensational and hysteria-inducing issue I am sure the conversation would be far more sensible. Nothing suggested here is contrary to the notion of Lewis Carroll as a good, gentle and considerate man with "noble and sincerely religioius feelings." If he had a strong sexual attraction to little girls doesn't it speak even more highly of his character that he never acted on them in a way that harmed anyone? People are complex, they aren't one thing or another and it is a common mistake to categorize them as if they were.

Anonymous said...

I could write an essay about this, but I won't. I'm just gonna say that I identified the source photos immediately so yes, it's photoshopped.
Charles Dodgson (L.C.) was probably a pedophile, but a celibate one. And you should treat him with very much respect for that. I can't even imagine how he must have felt.

Anonymous said...

That last picture is photoshopped. If you do some research on the web, you will find a picture of Lewis Carroll reading a book that is very similar to this one: same facial expression, same clothes, same position (except for the arm, whish was clearly added)

Beatrix Miranda said...

the last picture is a Frankenstein of all the potential within photomontage (i know the two source pictures pretty well), which Carroll himself helped develop. ingenious, indeed, to visualize Alice's waist instead of a book, and to fit her hand and face with his; but what for? such pity that people should be more interested on stablishing perverted evidence of his sexual affairs than on his brilliant legacy in many aspects of human knowledge and wit.
people who do this haven't learned a thing from him.
'course, it is easier to bring down an elevated man to dirty standarts; cleaning oneself's mind is the tough deal.
he who sees evil in others has an evil mind...

Anonymous said...

Apart from the obvious fact that this picture is photoshopped, since everyone knows the source photos, it is also interesting to note that if it WERE real, it would have been a wet collodion photograph, and not a naughty snapshot as it pretends to be. The wet collodion process required at LEAST a 15 second exposure time, and generally longer, meaning these people would have had to hold this pose, motionless, for half a minute or so.

Jenny Woolf said...

Steve's comment is thoughtful and interesting. I have written a biography of Carroll (to be published in the US next March by St. Martin's Press) and after looking at all the contemporary evidence I can find, I have concluded that Carroll was not sexually attracted to children but felt that to be close to them was a specifically non sexual thing to do, and he really wanted to be non sexual in his affectionate relationships.

In other words he associated little girls with a type of affection that rejected sex.

Paradoxically this links sex with his friendships with girls, even though it is a NEGATIVE link.

And this doesn't make him a paedophile, even a closet one.

The question is, why did he so badly want to avoid sexuality with grown up women. (I think he had a good reason for that too. )

Jenny Woolf
THE MYSTERY OF LEWIS CARROLL. www.jabberwock.co.uk

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S. Lee said...

At first I was skeptical about the last photo being photoshopped, but further investigation of Dodgson's photography reavealed this image:


Please note Alice's position. Quite familiar I might say.

Anonymous said...

The last picture is a composite of this photo:


and this one:


Nick said...

The above picture of Carroll and Alice kissing IS photoshopped. The source picture of Alice is one called "Alice Gets the Grapes" here is the link to the image http://people.virginia.edu/~ds8s/carroll/ela-2.html

wichitarick said...

Howdy folks.
Although spread out there is a good use of words about at least part of this gentleman's life.
I will not pretend to be a Rhodes scholar, but for some weird reason I have read a lot of this guys writings.
The debate about what the modern world would make of this fellow is an obvious one ...kind of a duh moment.
But if you want to really mix it up do not forget where this man was living .
Even by the standards in those days he did not exactly "get out much" and was,nt a street urchin or hanging out in pubs to get his introduction to the "real" world.
This man had a seizure disorder and to use someones words a "stammer" and it would seem to me that except his mother and a few other women his first exposures to "women" were Mrs Liddell and then her daughter.
SO we have this somewhat shut in "brainiac" with a very wild imagination having seizures that could get you exorcised in some circles, studying the priesthood with some of the stuffiest MEN on the planet "then and now", with a true gift for writing down those "weird" thoughts and dejavu experiences that I doubt he could have told anyone else about .
Except to write them down AND tell kids ,I mean who else would believe them.
When analyzing dead peoples lives like this man the real debate is whether a true link between epilepsy and genius exists? or even "gifted" and seizures or a dozen more neuro. disorders and some sort of unorthodox brain release that all but a few % can relate to.
As for myself, I am finding it truly fascinating how I, at 47 am discovering just how many of these authors that I related to as a child and a teen and it turns out I have more than just a simple link with them ? very funny.
BTW I am nobody and can tell the photo is altered somehow .
Take it /put it in a editing tool /brighten it/ and almost anything you do with it creates a line a darker ,lighter line right where these other folks suggest. Rick Wichita Ks.

Anonymous said...

Wow. People amaze me. First off. He did not have seizures and yes, he most certainly did have a "stammer" (his "long pauses" is what he called it). Secondly, he wasn't some shut in who didn't ever want to converse with anyone and go out and meet new people and socialize as it were. If his preferences were to stay in and read a book, enhance his knowledge, better himself by becoming cultured then let him have those. However, do not call him a "shut in brainiac" because you might not be able to understand this. In addition, Dodgson (L.C.) created the stories that would later become the two Alice books out of fun. It is one thing to have a "wild" (personally, I believe more people need to be more imaginative and less reliant on a television to entertain themselves) imagination, it is another to mix your "wild" fascinations with reality. That is when things begin to go down hill although I must say there is a fine line to walk for some artists as well as inventors. Dodgson was was a very bright man who used Lewis Carroll as his creative outlet.
Sorry to go on a rant but I greatly admire this man and dislike it very much when people misunderstand him.
On the other hand, I must also point out that I clearly never knew him personally nor have I ever met anyone that has. That goes for all of us however, and before judgment is made, a person must remember this.

Anyway, I will be quiet and go my own way now. I did not intend for this to be a long post.

P.S.- I am only 19 and have (what I would consider to be) a pretty good idea of the man after reading his biographies and his works as well as interpreting his photography as well as his philosophy.

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