Rev. Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

Several years ago, I became interested in Lewis Carroll (Rev. Charles Dodgson). I had read about him possibly having migraines, and experiencing migraines myself, I went on a search to uncover the truth. Quickly I was caught up in the man (who quite likely did have migraines) but also shared my background in mathematics, my interest in religion, and in all things psychic. Who would have thought this rather stuffy (by all accounts), conservative Victorian deacon would have been a founding member of the Society for Psychical Research?

Of course, most of us are familiar with Lewis Carroll for his nonsense poems and the Alice books. I have to confess that I never read the books as a child and only as an adult have I been drawn to them.

In 1862, the Rev. Dodgson, who was a mathematics don at Oxford, took three little neighbor girls out for a ride on a boat. On a hot, sunny July day, and in the company of his friend, Robinson Duckworth, the don began to spin yet another fantastic story for the amusement of the girls. Alice, who was ten at the time, begged Mr. Dodgson to write down the tale for her. She was presented with a handwritten copy of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, illustrated by the author during Christmas 1864. That copy resides in the British Museum and is probably the most famous book in all children’s literature. The next year the rest of the world welcomed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland into history.

Alice Liddell

The Rev. Charles Dodgson was a fascinating man and I was caught up in the many mysteries and complexities of his life. So much so, that I spent the next year writing my own tale of Wonderland where he and Alice get swept up in their own adventure tale. So far, I’ve been unable to secure a publisher for this mid-grade novel but then again, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was self-published. Will you and I, Mr. Dodgson, also share this?                                                                                                                                                                  


  1. Bruce Goodman · August 6, 2015

    I understood that there were two Alice’s, and that Dodgson was in fact a paedophile.


    • ellisnelson · August 7, 2015

      Never heard of two Alices. The notion of him being a pedophile has been disputed over the years. A biography produced by a nephew seems to have really skewed the facts about him. He did have relationships with women and came close to marrying at least once. His Oxford position was set up to maintain him there as a single man (common in the time period). There were significant financial hits he would have to take to marry. The photos of Alice (worth a look if you haven’t seen them), can be viewed as what ever you make of them. They didn’t raise eyebrows in their day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dana Taylor · August 7, 2015

    Lovely post. Feels like “the rest of the story.” Thanks! I’ll share.


  3. Dana Taylor · August 7, 2015

    Reblogged this on Supernal Living with Dana Taylor and commented:
    Sometimes we forget that a real person wrote what has become a classic. Take a quick peek at the man behind Wonderland. A post from YA author, Ellis Nelson.


  4. oliviablackbourn · August 7, 2015

    Hi, I have a new book blog, and would be really grateful if you could check it out?☺️


  5. Ellis · August 8, 2015

    I grew up in Oxford, so the adventures of Alice and the stories’ locations are very familiar to me. It’s an enigmatic city and still very close to my heart. In fact your story reminded me of a piece I wrote…oddly, 7 years ago today, so I’ve just re-posted it on my books’ site. Thanks I enjoyed that.


    • ellisnelson · August 8, 2015

      I got to know Oxford while writing my book so I know the real places you’re talking about. Would be wonderful to spent some time there. I watch Inspector Lewis just to grab glimpses!


  6. amcmulin914 · August 8, 2015

    Great premise for a story. I love reading about authors. They are usually fascinating people. Do you know why he used pseudonym Lewis Carol?


    • ellisnelson · August 8, 2015

      Carroll is the latinized form of Charles. Can’t remember the Lewis part- maybe that was his middle name. I think he used the penname to give some distance between his fiction writing (he also wrote academic pieces) and his professor role. It didn’t necessarily work. The book became so famous, children and adults wrote to him at Oxford. The book was made into a successful play during his lifetime, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. reanolanmartin · August 9, 2015

    fascinating! time for a movie on lewis carroll’s life! thanks for sharing this, ellis.


    • ellisnelson · August 9, 2015

      After I read the biography, I went searching for a movie about him. I wondered how it was possible no one ever made his life into a movie. The only thing I found was Dreamchild (1985), a kind of mishmash from Alice’s POV. Still, would love to see a historical drama but certain questions remain that would have to be filled in. What were his real feelings (intentions) towards Alice? What happened that led the Liddells to cut off contact with him? Why did he refuse final vows for the Church of England’s priesthood?


  8. christineocheallaigh · April 3, 2017

    I loved the Alice stories growing up, and had both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in one volume. I read it till it fell apart. 😛 Now I have an ebook copy on my Kindle app. I always loved the Jabberwocky poem, and The Walrus and the Carpenter. Trying to figure out Tweedeldee and Tweedledum will give you migraines without any extra help. My favorite characters were always the Cheshire Cat, Hatter, and the White Rabbit.


    • ellisnelson · April 4, 2017

      You should get the Annotated Alice and learn all the background info. It’s really fascinating!


  9. readingforsanitymom · April 10, 2017

    Hi just found your blog. Wonderful info! So i’m om a journey to read 100 books and on my list is Alice (can you believe i never read it)? But i found a lot of different editions, which is the original? Which do you recommend i read? Thank u


    • ellisnelson · April 10, 2017

      For the background to the story, read The Annotated Alice. Lots of notes to fill in with history and historical context.


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