Biography of Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll (the pen name of Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was a nineteenth century mathematician but is more famous for his “Alice in Wonderland” stories.

When and Where was he Born?

27th January 1832, Daresbury, Cheshire, England.

Family Background:

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and he was eldest son and third child of Reverend Charles Dodgson and Frances Jane Lutwidge in a family of seven girls and four boys.

Education:

Richmond Grammar School, Rugby School (where he begins to write early works later to be included in “Alice in Wonderland”). Christchurch, Oxford.

Timeline of Lewis Carroll:

1851: On the 24th January he moves to Oxford, which will be his home for the rest of his life. His mother dies a few days later.

1852: He passes the first part of his examinations at Christchurch and gains a studentship (a teaching position) which allows him to be a life member of the college.

1854: Carroll takes BA and prepares for ordination into the Church.

1855: Liddell is elected as Dean of Christ Church. His daughter Alice is three years old at this point. Dodgson offers a few short stories and poems to the “Comic Times”.

1856: Edmund Yates, The editor of the “Comic Times” opts to call Dodgson by the pseudonym “Lewis Carroll for the first time. Meets Alice Liddell for the first time.

1856-61: A period of ueventful teaching life in Oxford. He takes up photography and uses Alice Liddell as a subject frequently.

1861: On the 22nd December he is ordained as a Deacon but decides to go no further in the church. Alice Lidell visits Llandudno in North Wales with her family for a holiday. The jury is out whether Carroll actually met Alice there on one of their frequent visits but “Alice in Wonderland” is supposed to be inspired by initial stories told by Alice from her time in the town.

Statue of Alice in Wonderland
Wooden Statue of Alice in Wonderland opposite the main railway station in Llandudno, Wales.  There are other scultptures around the town, such as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter, created by Simon Hedger (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1862: Rowing trip on the River Isis (Thames at Oxford) where the story of Alice is heard for the first time.

1863: The MacDonald’s, his friends, urge him to publish the manuscript of “Alice”. Macmillans agree to publish it and John Tenniel to illustrate it.

1865: First publication of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. He falls out with the Liddells.

1867: Carroll begins work on “Through the Looking Glass” and spends the summer months travelling through Europe as far as Russia with his friend Liddon.

1868: The death of his father, now Archdeacon of Ripon. He finds a house called “The Chestnuts” in Guildford, Surrey for his six sisters to live in. The house was rented in his name although he still lived in Oxford but he visited the house many times and went on walks in the district. Due to the sisters habit of entertaining the house was often full and Lewis Carroll often had to stay in an inn in the town.

The Chestnuts
“The Chestnuts” in Castle Hill, Guildford where his sisters lived. He was to die here in 1898 (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1869: The first Chapter of “Through the Looking Glass” is sent to Macmillans.

1871: Carroll finishes “Through the Looking Glass” in time for Christmas”. Tenniel reluctantly agrees to illustrate it.

1875: Meets Gertrude Chataway who is to become one of his most faithful child friends.

1876: First publication of “The Hunting of the Snark” illustrated by Henry Holiday. Carroll becomes interested in logic.

1877: He spends the summer by the sea at Eastbourne where he is to go every August from now on.

1878: He begins inventing word games.

1880: He gives up photography.

1881: Carroll gives up lecturing at Christ Church.

1882: He is elected Curator of the Common Room by his colleagues. Publishes another work on mathematics.

1883: He works on a stage adaptation of “Alice”.

1884-5: Carroll publishes several articles on proportional representation.

1886: He gives lectures at Lady Margaret Hall (one of the Women’s colleges in Oxford University).

1887: He teaches logic in a Girl’s Senior School in Oxford where he meets Isa Bowman, another favourite child friend.

1889: First publication of “Sylvie and Bruno” illustrated by Harry Furnis.

1890: First publication of the Nursery “Alice.”

1891: Carroll sees Alice Liddell again (now Mrs Hargreaves) after a long separation and also makes peace with her mother.

1892: Hew resigns his post as Curator and publishes several short texts on logic.

1897: He gives several sermons to congregations of children. He discovers a number of rules of rapid division and multiplication and thereafter decides to send back all letters addressed to “Lewis Carroll, Christ Church” as “not known at this address”.

Alice in Wonderland sculpture
Statue by sculptor Jeanne Argent of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” in Guildford Castle Gardens (copyright Anthony Blagg)

When and Where did he Die?

14th January 1898, “The Chestnuts, Castle Hill, Guildford, Surrey, England of bronchitis.

Age at Death:

66.

Written Works:

1865: “Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland”. “The Dynamics of a Part-icle” (Satirical pamphlet).
1869: “Phantasmagoria and Other Poems”.
1871: “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There”.
1872: “The New Belfry of Christ Church, Oxford”. (Anonymous pamphlet attacking Liddell’’s architectural plans).
1874: “Notes by an Oxford Chiel”. (collection of his mathematical works)
1876: “The Hunting of the Snark”.
1879: “Euclid and his Modern Rivals”. (Under real name).
1883: “Rhyme? And Reason?” (Verses).
1885: “A Tangled Tale”. (published in book form).
1888: “Curiosa Mathematica, Part 1”.
1889: “Sylvie and Bruno”.
1893: “Sylvie and Bruno Concluded”. “Syzygies and Lanrick” (word games). Curiosa Mathematica”, Part 2″. “Pillow Problems”.
1894: “What the Tortoise said to Achilles”
1896: “Symbolic Logic”.

Marriage:

Never Married.

Site of Grave:

The Mount Cemetery, Guildford, Surrey, England.

Places of Interest:

CUMBRIA:

Keswick, Seathwaite, Lodore and Borrowdale.

OXFORD:

Christ Church College.
Bodleian Library, Broad Street.

ISLE OF WIGHT:

Visited Tennyson at Farrington House.

SURREY:

“The Chestnuts”, Castle Hill, Guildford where he died.
The Alice Garden, Guildford Castle.

WALES:

Alice in Wonderland Trail, Llandudno, LL30 2PY.