Lewis Carroll Biography & Facts
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (; 27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English writer of children's fiction, notably Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. He was noted for his facility with word play, logic, and fantasy. The poems "Jabberwocky" and The Hunting of the Snark are classified in the genre of literary nonsense. He was also a mathematician, photographer, inventor and Anglican deacon.
Carroll came from a family of high-church Anglicans, and developed a long relationship with Christ Church, Oxford, where he lived for most of his life as a scholar and teacher. Alice Liddell, daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, Henry Liddell, is widely identified as the original for Alice in Wonderland, though Carroll always denied this. Scholars are divided about whether his relationship with children included an erotic component.
In 1982, a memorial stone to Carroll was unveiled in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey. There are Lewis Carroll societies in many parts of the world dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of his works.
Background and early life
Dodgson's family was predominantly northern English (with Irish connections), conservative and high-church Anglican. Most of Dodgson's male ancestors were army officers or Church of England clergy. His great-grandfather, Charles Dodgson, had risen through the ranks of the church to become the Bishop of Elphin in rural Ireland. His paternal grandfather, another Charles, had been an army captain, killed in action in Ireland in 1803 when his two sons were hardly more than babies. The older of these sons – yet another Charles Dodgson – was Carroll's father. He went to Westminster School and then to Christ Church, Oxford. He reverted to the other family tradition and took holy orders. 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 Frances Jane Lutwidge in 1830 and became a country parson.Dodgson was born in All Saints' Vicarage at Daresbury, Cheshire, near Warrington, the eldest boy and the third child. Eight more children followed. When Charles was 11, his father was given the living of Croft-on-Tees in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and the whole family moved to the spacious rectory. This remained their home for the next 25 years.
Charles's father was an active and highly conservative cleric of the Church of England who later became the Archdeacon of Richmond and involved himself, sometimes influentially, in the intense religious disputes that were dividing the church. He was high church, inclining toward Anglo-Catholicism, an admirer of John Henry Newman and the Tractarian movement, and did his best to instil such views in his children. Young Charles was to develop an ambivalent relationship with his father's values and with the Church of England as a whole.
During his early youth, Dodgson was educated at home. His "reading lists" preserved in the family archives testify to a precocious intellect: at the age of seven, he was reading books such as The Pilgrim's Progress. He also spoke with a stammer – a condition shared by most of his siblings – that often inhibited his social life throughout his years. At the age of twelve he was sent to Richmond Grammar School (now part of Richmond School) in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
In 1846, Dodgson entered Rugby School where he was evidently unhappy, as he wrote some years after leaving:
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.
Dodgson did not claim he suffered from bullying but cited little boys as the main targets of older bullies at Rugby. Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, who was Dodgson's nephew, wrote that "even though it is hard for those who have only known him as the gentle and retiring don to believe it, it is nevertheless true that long after he left school, his name was remembered as that of a boy who knew well how to use his fists in defence of a righteous cause", which is the protection of the smaller boys.Scholastically, though, he excelled with apparent ease. "I have not had a more promising boy at his age since I came to Rugby", observed mathematics master R. B. Mayor. Francis Walkingame's The Tutor's Assistant; Being a Compendium of Arithmetic – the mathematics textbook that the young Dodgson used – still survives and it contained an inscription in Latin, which translates to: "This book belongs to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: hands off!" Some pages also included annotations such as the one found in p. 129, where he wrote "Not a fair question in decimals" next to a question.
He left Rugby at the end of 1849 and matriculated at the University of Oxford in May 1850 as a member of his father's old college, Christ Church. After waiting for rooms in college to become available, he went into residence in January 1851. He had been at Oxford only 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 47.His early academic career veered between high promise and irresistible distraction. He did not always work hard but was exceptionally gifted and achievement came easily to him. In 1852, he obtained first-class honours in Mathematics Moderations and was shortly thereafter nominated to a Studentship by his father's old friend Canon Edward Pusey. In 1854, he obtained first-class honours in the Final Honours School of Mathematics, standing first on the list, graduating Bachelor of Arts. He remained at Christ Church studying and teaching, but the next year 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 in 1855, which he continued to hold for the next 26 years. Despite early unhappiness, Dodgson was to remain at Christ Church, in various capacities, until his death, including that of Sub-Librarian of the Christ Church library, where his office was close to the Deanery, where Alice Liddell lived.
Character and appearance
The young adult Charles Dodgson was about 6 feet (1.83 m) tall and slender, and he had curly brown hair and blue or grey eyes (depending on the account). He was described in later life as somewhat asymmetrical, and as carrying himself rather stiffly and awkwardly, although this might 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 17, he suffered a severe attack of whooping cough, which was probably responsible for his chronically weak chest in later life. In early childh.... Discover the Lewis Carroll popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Lewis Carroll books.