Fans of classic children's literature often find themselves in search of a Lewis Carroll biography.
A Brief Lewis Carroll Biography
Lewis Carroll is the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, an English author, photographer, and mathematician. He is best known for writing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass. Carroll is also the author of the poems The Hunting of the Snark and Jabberwocky.
Lewis Carroll was born in Daresbury near Warrington, Cheshire on January 27, 1832. He was the eldest boy, but the third child in his parent's four and a half year marriage. The family went on to have eight more children. Carroll's family was very conservative and deeply religious; many of his relatives were Church of England clergymen.
Carroll was educated at home until attending a private school at age 12. He was an excellent student, but suffered from a stammer that hampered his social life. He studied mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford, which was his father's old college.
Throughout his life, Carroll was troubled by various medical concerns. As a child, Carroll had a fever that left him deaf in one ear. He contracted whooping cough at age 17, which left him with lingering chest problems throughout the rest of his life. He sustained a knee injury in middle age that caused him to walk with a bit of a limp.
Lewis Carroll died on January 14, 1898 of pneumonia that developed following influenza. He was 65 years old. Carroll is buried in Guildford at the Mount Cemetery.
Lewis Carroll wrote poetry and short stories from a very young age, often submitting them to various local magazines. However, he was an unknown writer until the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was written as a tribute to Alice Liddell, one of the daughters of Christ Church Dean Henry Liddell. Carroll began the story while taking Alice and her sisters on a rowing trip. The children enjoyed the tale so much that they begged him to write it down. He presented Alice with a handwritten manuscript in 1864, which attracted the attention of the author George MacDonald. MacDonald encouraged Carroll to have the manuscript published.
One interesting bit of trivia in the Lewis Carroll biography is that there was initially quite a debate about the proper title for his story. Alice Among the Fairies and Alice's Golden Hour were first proposed as titles before Carroll's publisher decided on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
You can learn more about Alice in Wonderland by reviewing the following LTK Children's Books articles:
Despite being best known as an author of children's literature, Lewis Carroll actually had many interests. He worked as a mathematics tutor and wrote several books on geometry, matrix algebra, and mathematical logic. He also worked on many different inventions, including a writing tablet called the nyctograph for note taking in the dark.
At one point, Lewis Carroll was a fairly well-known photographer. He shot portraits of notable people such as John Everett Millais, Terry, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. However, his photographic work has been the source of some controversy among the scholarly community. Carroll frequently photographed children, including young girls posing nude. While the photographs themselves are not overly suggestive considering the time in which in they were taken, some people believe they are evidence of pedophilia. Speculation in this area centers around the fact that Carroll had a falling out with the Liddell family after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published. He also never married and appears to have had no lasting relationships with adult women.
A number of books have been written about Lewis Carroll's life. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a Lewis Carroll biography written for children. Most of the material is written for teens or adults.
Some books you may be interested in reviewing include:
- Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N. Cohen
- The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created "Alice in Wonderland" by Jenny Woolf
- In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll by Karoline Leach
You can also learn more about Lewis Carroll by reviewing the materials posted on the Lewis Carroll Society of North America website. This organization is comprised of people of all ages who have a scholarly interest in learning more about Carroll's various creative activities.