Essay on Lewis Carroll

This essay has a total of 1743 words and 12 pages.

Lewis Carroll

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Nonsense Writer of the 1800 s

Lewis Carroll is a well known and talked about author, whose writings have stirred up

much controversy. His work has inspired ballot, puppet shows, and even music videos.

(Vink). Lewis Carroll is an outstanding English writer because of his background, his

position in English literature, and his many works, such as his novel, "Alice's Adventures in


"‘Lewis Carroll,' as he was to become known, was born on January 27, 1832 (Leach 1).

He was raised on a parsonage that was located in the middle of a cornfield. The family even

raised livestock to supplement their income. Carroll was the oldest of four boys and seven

girls. He referred to his mother as "‘one of the sweetest and gentlest women that ever lived,'

and was notable for the energy with which she ran the household." ( Carpenter and Prichard 97).

She taught all her children at home while they were young. His father was an ordained priest.

It was in 1843 when Carroll was eleven, the family moved to Yorkshire. This was a much

more lucrative living arrangement; in fact, the house was "... so big that Mr. Dodgson was able

to find room on the grounds for a school holding about [sixty] children" (97).

At twelve, Carroll was sent to grammar school at Richmond where he was happy and hard-

working. However, two years later he was sent on to a small private school at Rugby, where he

was apparently bullied. Something he wrote a few years later aroused the suspicion that he may

have suffered from some form of sexual abuse while at Rugby, but this is only a speculation.

"He left Rugby at the end of 1849 and ...went on in January 1851 to Oxford: to his father's old

college, Christ Church" (Leach 2). After only two days, he had to return home because "his

mother had died of ‘Inflammation of the Brain'- perhaps meningitis or a stroke - at the age of

forty- seven" (2) This did not seem to distract Carroll much or if it did it did not show, for he

returned right back to Oxford where "the following year he achieved a first in Honour

Moderations, and was nominated to a Studentship (2). He later won the Christ Church

Mathematical Lectureship that he held for twenty-six years. "The income was good but the work

bored him" (2). "He became deacon of the Church of England in 1861 but chose not to go

further" ( Blake 46).

In 1856, he began to pursue his interest in photography and took great interest in

photographing young girls. This has led to much controversy in today's society; but before

Freud and his psychosexual motives, there were no thoughts such as those that his theory

proposes. "These photos were troubling by some, genius by others" (Vink). He all together took

about two thousand photographs in twenty five-years. Some believed that "there must have been

been a sexual side to it but very much under control" (Vink). In 1881, Carroll suddenly

gave up photography and his lectureship, "making people suspect his intentions toward his

models" (Vink). Others believed that "... the likely reason was his desire to devote all his

time to his writing..." (Blake 58).

In 1867, he toured Russia and Europe with a friend. He then bought a house in Guildford.

He did this because both of his parents were both dead at this time, and his unmarried sisters

needed a place to live. He then devoted the rest of his life to his writing. He died suddenly on

January 14, 1898, of a violent case of pneumonia.

"Carroll was a writer from the earliest age" (58). He began writing a series of family

magazines for the amusement of his family. "The first, begun when he was about [fourteen],

and was called Useful and Instructive Poetry and consisted of humerus verses" (Carpenter and

Prichard 98). While at Oxford, he published a series of mathematical textbooks, at least half

a dozen, that were designed to help his students with their studies. In 1855, he began writing a

diary that he kept throughout his entire adult life. The diary was kept in plain notebooks, which

he called his private journal. In it, he recorded the main activities and events in his life, as well as

information that he might want to look back on at a later date. There is much gossip over those

diaries. He wrote a total of thirteen volumes, but four have vanished. The volumes are kept now

in a museum in England. "Carroll just loved language, loved the written word. He had a registrar

of at least a hundred thousand letters sent and received throughout his life" (Vink). Some of the

letters were written so that they could only be read in a mirror; some were written in shapes such

as spirals, and others were fully illustrated.

Indeed, he demonstrates his love for language when he wrote Alice's Adventures in

Wonderland. . It is truly a "...classic of the English language...and [has] been translated into

virtually every other language..." (Blake 44). "It is a children's story but it is also a book full of

interest for adults and specialists like mathematicians, linguists, logicians, and Freudians"

(Bolch 3)

Carroll's life changes when the Lindell's arrive at Oxford. Mr. Lindell became the Dean of

the College. He brought with him, four little girls. Carroll became well acquainted with the

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