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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.

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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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