8 Things You Didn't Know About Lewis Carroll

The brilliant author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland had a fascinating life, marked by health concerns, enriched by a range of talents and interests, and shaped by a gift for mathematics.


1. His real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

The name 'Lewis Carroll' derives from the Latin for Charles Lutwidge - 'Carolus Ludovicus' - which Dodgson then reversed and retranslated as 'Lewis Carroll' for the perfect pen-name.

2. He was the eldest son and third child of 11 siblings, seven girls and four boys.

In his early youth, he was educated at home, and showed huge academic promise. At the age of 7, he was already reading the likes of The Pilgrim's Progress.

3. He endured an unhappy few years in a public school from 1846-50.

He was naturally shy, but was also subjected to bullying and had to endure several illnesses (one of which left him deaf in one ear).

4. He had a stammer from early childhood.

He shared the condition with most of his siblings and it plagued him throughout his life, although he was able to speak more fluidly with children.

5. He was not only a sensational storyteller, but a brilliant mathematician.

He achieved a First Class Honours degree in mathematics from Christ Church, Oxford, ranking at the top of the class, and remained at the college as a mathematics lecturer for many years. He also excelled in classics as a student.

6. Just two days into his time at Oxford, tragedy struck.

He received a summons home because his mother had died of 'inflammation of the brain' - probably meningitis or a stroke - at the age of 47.

6. He was a fine photographer of children and adults.

He captured notable portraits of actress Ellen Terry, poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, and poet-painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, among others. He also took a famous photograph of Alice Liddell, the child upon whom he is rumoured to have based the character of Alice (although this is disputed).

7. He really enjoyed writing letters.

According to a letter register he devised himself, Dodgson wrote and received almost 99,000 letters. He shared some advice on satisfying letter-writing in a missive, Eight or Nine Wise Words about Letter-Writing. One of his multiple inventions was the 'Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case', a cloth-backed folder with twelve slots for inserting different sorts of stamps.

8. He invented a number of games and devices, too.

These included a 'nyctograph', a device that enabled note-taking in the dark; another device for helping bedridden invalids to read books placed on their sides; a rule for finding the day of the week for any date; an early version of Scrabble; and a means for justifying right margins on a typewriter.

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    Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) is famed for his magical stories, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, here illustrated throughout the inner pages by Sir John Tenniel's much loved drawings. However, inspired by the insatiable Victorian appetite for party games, tricks and conundrums, this eccentric and polymathical Englishman also wrote many other works of a humorous, witty, whimsical and nonsensical nature such as the mock-heroic nonsense verse The Hunting of the Snark, as well as dozens of other verses, stories, acrostics and puzzles, all of which are included in this volume. Oxford scholar, Church of England Deacon, University Lecturer in Mathematics and Logic, academic author of learned theses, gifted pioneer of portrait photography, colourful writer of imaginative genius and yet a shy and pedantic man, Lewis Carroll stands pre-eminent in the pantheon of inventive literary geniuses.
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    With an Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury This selection of Carroll's works includes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, both containing the famous illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. No greater books for children have ever been written. The simple language, dreamlike atmosphere, and fantastical characters are as appealing to young readers today as ever they were. Meanwhile, however, these apparently simple stories have become recognised as adult masterpieces, and extraordinary experiments, years ahead of their time, in Modernism and Surrealism. Through wordplay, parody and logical and philosophical puzzles, Carroll engenders a variety of sub-texts, teasing, ominous or melancholy. For all the surface playfulness there is meaning everywhere. The author reveals himself in glimpses.
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    A beautiful Oxford Classics edition of Lewis Carroll's inspired fantasy Alice in Wonderland. This surreal story has truly enduring appeal and is a must-read book for all readers aged 9 and above.

    On an ordinary summer's afternoon, Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole and an extraordinary adventure begins. In a strange world, she meets some even stranger characters including a grinning cat, a rabbit with a pocket watch and a queen who plays croquet using hedgehogs and flamingos!

    Packed full of nonsense poems and songs, quirky characters and bizarre goings-on, Alice in Wonderland is a timeless classic!

    Please note this edition does not contain any illustrations.