Lewis Carroll Dodgson

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Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, affectionately known as Lewis Carroll, a famous author of the Victorian Age, used his odd personality to create a twisted book called Alice's Adventures Underground. He made history by creating the book filled with the fantastical adventures of Alice. His abilities transformed the minds of children and adults. Without a man of this diversity, imagination would not be as odd as he displayed it. Lewis Carroll remains famous today because of the adventures of Alice.

On January 27, 1832, Reverend Charles Dodgson and Frances Jane Lutwidge gave birth to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Dodgson was descended from two ancient families of North-Countries. From the Dodgson's, he inherited a tradition of service to the church and from the Lutwidge's, he took upon a tradition of service to the state (Hudson 11). His father Reverend Charles Dodgson was a scholar, classical and distinguished. Reverend Dodgson had a personal generosity and an overwhelming interest in mathematical studies. Charles' mother, Francis Jane Lutwidge was a woman of unusually sweet and gentle character. Not only that, but she was also a first cousin of his father (Hudson 10).

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and his family moved to Croft Rectory close to Darlington in 1843. At that time Charles set out to entertain his brothers and sisters with poems, stories, humorous drawings, and elaborate games in their big garden. At the age of thirteen, he produced a series of illustrated magazines which contained his first useful and instructive poetry. Charles also used these magazines as entertainment for his siblings. This was just the beginnings of his works. This collection that he had first produced showed remarkable anticipations of works such as Humpty Dumpty and The Mouse's Tail in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Hudson 11).

In 1844, Charles started attending Richmond Grammar School in Yorkshire and attended until 1846 (Kelly). He showed a priceless talent for mathematics and parody. At the age of twelve, his handwriting had been described as outstanding in maturity, tenderness, and sensitivity. He had no doubt, advanced prematurely. After leaving Richmond Grammar School, he started to attend Rugby and the years he spent there, he was miserable; especially after the untimely loss of his mother. Losing his mother was a handicap of stammer that never left him.

Later after leaving Rugby, he started attending Oxford. With his diligence as an Oxford undergraduate, he was rewarded double first in Mathematics and a Christ Church Studentship (Hudson 12). While at Christ Church, he obtained first in class on his Mathematical Final. On December 18, 1854 he went for his Bachelors Degree in Arts. About a year after going for his Bachelors Degree in Arts, He became a Sub-Librarian at Christ Church. During this time he composed the first stanza of Jabberwocky which he later preserved in his scrapbook Mischmash.

While at Christ Church, sometime before becoming a Sub-Librarian, Charles had established himself as a Freelance Humorist (Kelly). By this time, Charles had somewhat of a split personality. Charles was kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When it came to being a prim and pedantic mathematician, he went by the name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. When it came to being the delightful writer of poems, short stories and children's books, he went by his pseudonym name, Lewis Carroll (Hudson 9). When Charles Lutwidge Dodgson graduated from Christ Church, he stayed and took the position as a mathematical lecturer (Kelly). Around 5 years later, while still lecturing students of Christ Church, He was ordained Deacon of The Church of England (Hudson 13).

While Charles had taken into to all of these professions, Lewis Carroll picked up the hobby of photography (Hudson 26). When taking pictures, he paid very special attention to children. He made himself to be the best photographer of children there could be (Hudson 12). Allied to his love of theatre, interest in art, literature, science, math and medicine; his devotion to children proved to be life long (Hudson 13). Of course Lewis had friends, especially of artistic, literary, and theatrical backgrounds; but he admitted still that, children were three-fourths of his life. He became very occupied with them, especially young girls (Hudson 26-7).

Lewis Carroll went on writing. On July 4, 1865, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is published. Before he had the book published, he sent a presentation copy of the book to the young girl he had dedicated it to, Alice Liddell. Three years later, after writing the book of Alice, his father died on June 21, 1868. This became another emotional stammer for him but it didn't stop him from writing the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Dodgson finished Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There in December of 1871. The sequel did not get published though, until January of 1872 (Kelly). Although the books became famous, the success of the Alice books made little difference to the life of Carroll (Hudson 27). Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, more famously know as Lewis Carroll, died at his sister's home at Gilford on January 14, 1898. A book of his named Three Sunsets and Other Poems he wrote while he had stayed at his sister's home, was published posthumously (Kelly).

The Victorian Age in the British Empire encompassed years of economical, technological, and political expansion and dramatic social change. Britain peaked in influence as a world power. The British Empire covered around a quarter of the world's population. People referred to England as “The Workshop of the World.” The Middle-Class people proved to be the strongest class of the time. They stood strong on their standards and morals which defined the Victorian Age. A growing social consciousness stirred reforms, and as the queens political power diminished, a contentious Parliament produced strong prime ministers. The Victorian age was actually ruled by the Middle Class. The Victorian Age of Britain was full of congestion, slums and an exploited working class (Glencoe 771).

Lewis Carroll's character was so complex and original, and his interests were so varied, that he found much to offset his recurrent melancholy. He was by instinct, a visual and graphic artist who never stopped trying to draw. Carroll regularly visited plays and art exhibitions. Realizing the fact that he lacked the talent to become a professional artist, he turned to photography, in which he paid close attention to children (Hudson 12). Carroll's particular mix of wordplay, fantasy, satire, creativity, non-sense, and dry wit have given him ionic status (Merriam).

Lewis Carroll was an odd man full of wonder and mystery. He took upon many positions as far as careers go. He had many interest such as art, theatre, literature, mathematics, science and photography. As demonstrated, his biggest interest of all was children. As stated, children, especially young girls, were his life. Carroll apparently suffered a great amount early in his life; with the loss of his mother and during some of the years he spent at school. He grew to a mature state of mind at a rate faster than most. He probably wished to live the life of a child longer than he had the chance. This probably comes to the reasoning of Carroll being as interested in children as he brought it out to be. For example, as Lewis Carroll wrote himself(Hudson):

“I would give all wealth that years have plied, the slow results of life's decay, to be once more a little child, for one bright summer's day.”

Carroll started to write a book called Sylvie and Bruno. In this book he tried to steer away from reverting to the style he used in the Alice Books. Sylvie and Bruno got its basis from Bruno's Revenge. Bruno's Revenge was a children's short story created in 1867 for Aunt Judie's Magazine. Sylvie and Bruno combines Carroll's Christian belief in the supernatural and notions of spiritualists with his view of innocent children as emblems of angelic purity. This book was an attempt to show what might possibly happen, supposing that Fairies really existed; and that they were sometimes able to assume human form. He also tried to show in this book that humans might supposedly be aware of what is going on in the Fairyworld. The Book took him over 15 years to develop. Carroll declares in the preface of the book that (Kelly 129):

“It is that in Sylvie and Bruno, that I Have striven—with I know not what success—to strike out yet another new path: be it bad or good, it is the best I can do.”

Sylvie and Bruno was released and published in 1888 (Kelly).

Not too long after writing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Carroll started to brainstorm up a sequel to the book. He named this book, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The book continues on with Alice, but this time her journey starts off at a place called, The Looking Glass House. Carroll completes the book in 1871 and releases it in December on Christmas of that year. Although, he releases the book on the Christmas of 1871, the book says that its published in January of 1872 (Cohen 131-32).

The two works presented had in no way, a similar impact. Sylvie and Bruno, to the critic's eye, was inappropriate for children. It was thought to be unhealthy for the children's eye, but at the same time, it was thought as being a healthy exercise for Carroll (Kelly 132). On the other hand though, the book, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, it had almost the same outcome as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Everyone enjoyed it almost just as much as the first book (Cohen 132).

It all started in the summer of 1862, the making of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Carroll, the three Liddell Sisters, one of them being Alice, and a boy named Duckworth where in a small boat, close together, in the middle of pond. The little girl Alice Liddell asked Carroll to tell them a story. At that moment he poured out the story of Alice down the rabbit hole. The tale almost went out of existence, but the girls insisted that he tell more. It took him two and a half years to deliver a completed manuscript. On the Christmas of 1864 he gave Alice Liddell a completed version as a Christmas gift (Cohen 123, 126). On July 4, 1865, it was published and 2000 copies were sent out (Kelly).

The tale of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland pleased the reading public. Translations into other languages followed and the audience of admirers widened. The book earned almost unconditional praise. It was a book that not only attracted the child's eye but the adults eyes as well. The book was most original and most charming. Many wrote to him giving him a thousand thanks and compliments. One person wrote (Cohen 130-131):

“It is a glorious, artistic treasure. It is a book to put on one's shelf as an antidote to a fit of the blues.”

Today his books of Alice's amazing adventures have influenced contemporary authors, artist, musicians, and inspiring adaptations to the stage and screen (Cohen 135).

Lewis Carroll was an author who influenced many people throughout his life. Lewis Carroll will be remembered for his creative and playful use of words. Using his unusual personality, Lewis Carroll created famous books such as, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.