Friday, October 2, 2015

Champions of Creativity

   Lewis Carroll

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, so today I'm focusing on the author of that beloved children's classic.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born on January 27, 1832; he was later known to millions as Lewis Carroll. The Englishman wore many hats in his lifetime, including: author, poet, mathematician, logician, photographer, and deacon in the Anglican Church.

Carroll was from a family that included a long line of clergymen. He was educated at home; as a testament to his gifted intellect, he read such books as Pilgrim's Progress at the age of seven! He wrote poems and short stories as a young person, and was a gifted storyteller and mimic as a young adult - even though he struggled with a stammer.

Lewis Carroll was later educated at Oxford University receiving a degree in mathematics and first-class honors - placing first in his class. He became a Mathematical Lecturer at Christ Church/Oxford which gave him a certain amount of financial security. In 1856 Henry Liddell became the new dean at Christ Church; Carroll was to become close with the dean, his wife, and their three daughters: Lorina, Edith, and Alice. (It has been debated for decades whether or not young Alice Liddell was the inspiration for the protagonist in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, even though late in his life Lewis Carroll denied that his character was based on any real child.)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 and became an overnight sensation. It brought Carroll fame, and with it, significant changes to his life - such as receiving loads of letters from adoring fans of the book. Even Queen Victoria was quite taken with the novel.

One of Lewis Carroll's own illustrations of Alice.
In 1871, a sequel - Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There - was published. That darker story also includes Carroll's famous poem: Jabberwocky.

Throughout his life Mr. Carroll juggled the roles of author, mathematician, poet, logician, and photographer. Amidst these endeavors he unfortunately dealt with migraine headaches and "seizures," according to his personal journal.

Lewis Carroll died on January 14, 1898 of pneumonia, following influenza. He was 66 years old. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland became extremely influential in popular culture and literature - especially in the fantasy genre. Carroll's children's classic has been translated into 174 languages, and has never been out of print.

"One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others." Lewis Carroll

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This past summer I was lucky enough to find this rare copy of both stories by Lewis Carroll in an antique store on the Oregon Coast. It seemed fitting that this edition was published in 1915 - fifty years after the first book was published, and exactly one hundred years ago.

Since my current novel in progress includes a secondary character obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, I just had to buy this book. Research, right?

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