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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Born in 1832, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), the creator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and a host of other stories, first published Useful and Instructive Poetry, the first of the family magazines.
The logic that seems to pervade through most of his works is the keen interest and brilliance that the author displays during his school days. In December 1852, he obtained a First in Maths Moderations and was nominated to a Fellowship at Christ Church. It was in February 1855, that he was nominated for the "Master of the House".
It is during this time his interest in photography was aroused by one of his uncles. This interest is beautifully captured in the wonderful illustrations that accompany his stories. Moreover, the narrative too is rich with language that can easily capture the imagination of the reader (child and adult)
- the language being such that every situation and idea is etched out like a photograph. It is 1857 that Dodgson became a Master of Arts and wrote Hiawatha’s Photographing. This was later followed by his first book, A Syllabus of Plane Algebraic Geometry followed by College Rhymes.
It was on the 4th of July, 1862 that Dodgson told the story of "Alice" during a trip to Godstow with the Lidell children, and on the 13th of November he began to write down Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Alice Lidell. He concluded writing in February 1863. He sent a specially illustrated version to Alice Lidell and later ( May 1865 ) the first specimen copy of the book was sent to Carroll by the publishers. This was followed by the publication of Through the Looking Glass in 1871.
Other stories followed this. Some of them being The Hunting of the Snark, Word-links, Rhyme and Reason, and A Tangled Tale. He wrote A Game of Logic defending the employment of children in theaters. In December 1889 Sylive and Bruno was published, followed by the publication of The Nursery Alice for very young children. He resigned from his job as Curator of the Senior Common Room in 1892.
After his retirement, his books on mathematics and logic were brought to print. Lewis Carroll died on 14th January 1898. With his death, there ended the fascinating career of an author who wrote beautiful stories for children and adults.
Lewis Carroll, or The Rev Charles L Dodgson, a Victorian Mathematician and a logician , had succeeded in bringing into this world a world called "Wonderland",concentrated with the vocabulary and the language of childhood. In a world where there were books written for children Carroll managed to bring in books in which the readers become children.
The creative catalysts were little children, especially the Lidell children and Alice Lidell in particular. In a diary that he customarily kept, he states:
Duckworth and I made an expedition up the river to Godstow with the three Lidells; we had tea on the bank there, and did not reach Christ Church again till quarter past eight---
It is at this time that one of the children named Alice asked him to tell them a story, and later requested him to write down all the stories that he told them. This would have been a long forgotten story if it were not for the fact that the writer wanted to refine it and polish it. Carroll spent many years in converting the story that he told the Lidell children, into a fairy tale.
In fact, many critics have identified the characters of the novel with those in the life of Carroll, especially the ones present on the afternoon when he went on an excursion with the Lidell children.
Folly Bridge, was the starting point for a summer expedition up the river to Godstow, during which Carroll improvised his ‘Wonderland’ story to amuse the Lidell children His colleague, Duckworth was the other oarsman. The ‘Mouse’ refers to a certain Mrs. Prickett who was the Lidells’ governess. Moreover, since the Mouse gives the history lesson from the actual book which Mrs. Prckett was using with the children. The Hatter refers to a certain Theophilus Carter, who was at one time a servitor at the Christ Church He was the inventor of the ‘alarm clock bed’, which always gave the wrong time and woke up people at the wrong time. He was known as the Mad Hatter in Oxford, because of his resemblance Gladstone (the then Prime Minister). He tried to heighten the resemblance by wearing a top hat.
The animals in the pool of tears refer to the people who were assembled on the day of the picnic. ‘A Duck’ refers to the Rev. Robinson Duckworth, ‘ a dodo’ refers to Dodgson himself (Do-do Dodgson, when he stammered), ‘a lory’ refers to a parrot like bird of the family Lorrinae.