Alice In Wonderland author’s regret: Why Lewis Carroll hated being a literary legend

Alice In Wonderland author’s regret: Why Lewis Carroll hated being a literary legend

ACCORDING to a previously unseen letter that will soon be auctioned author Lewis Carroll despised fame a great deal he wished he had never written the books about Alice’s adventures that made him a literary legend

Lewis Carroll’s life changed forever after Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland was published GETTY

An obscure mathematician called Charles Lutwidge Dodgson penned a range of learned works with titles such as A Syllabus Of Plane Algebraic Geometry and The Fifth Book Of Euclid Treated Algebraically in the mid-19th century.

5 years after the latter in 1865 he embarked on a radical change of direction.

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland was published under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll and his life changed for ever.

Queen Victoria loved it, fan mail arrived by the sackful in which he started to be recognised in the pub.

This was sheer hell for a shy and retiring academic who doubled as an Anglican deacon in addition to extent of his torment is revealed the very first time in a previously unseen letter that is anticipated to fetch a lot more than Ј4,000 when it is auctioned at Bonhams the following month.

The widow of eminent Oxford surgeon Frederick Symonds, he laments being thrust into the public eye by his success and treated like a zoo animal by admirers in the letter written to Anne Symonds.

He even suggests he had never written the classic tales that brought him worldwide fame that he wishes.

“All that kind of publicity leads to strangers hearing of my real name in connection with the books, also to my being pointed off to, and stared at by strangers, and treated as a ‘lion’,” he wrote.

“And I hate all of that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish that I experienced never written any books at all.”

The letter, written in November 1891, was penned 26 years after the publication of Alice In Wonderland, as he was 59.

He died six years later and then how his reputation would be tarnished in death he would have been even more horrified if he had known. His fondness for children along with his practice of photographing and sketching them, sometimes within the nude, resulted in a posthumous lynching in the court of literary opinion.

The creative genius who gave us Humpty Dumpty, the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter was labelled a pervert, paedophile and pornographer as a result.

Alice Liddell inspired him to write the book GETTY

And I hate all of that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish that I experienced never written any books at all

The truth that four associated with 13 volumes of his diaries mysteriously went missing and that seven pages of some other were torn out by an unknown hand only included with the circumstantial evidence against him.

But while Dodgson never married, there clearly was a good amount of evidence inside the diaries which he had a keen interest in adult women both married and single and enjoyed an amount of relationships that could have now been considered scandalous by the standards of that time.

Sympathetic historians also argue his studies of naked children have to be noticed in the context of their own time.

The “Victorian child cult” perceived nudity as an expression of innocence and such images were mainstream and fashionable rather than emblematic of a sick desire for young flesh.

The speculation over Dodgson’s sexuality has its own roots in the little girl to his relationship who was the inspiration for his fictional Alice. The real-life Alice was the younger daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford, where Dodgson plied his trade as a mathematician and served as a deacon.

She was by all accounts a vivacious and pretty 10-year-old when he first surely got to know her and then he would often take her out along with her sisters for picnics and boat trips in the Thames.

On these days he would entertain all of them with his stories concerning the fictional Alice, tales he had been eventually persuaded to put into book form and send to a publisher.

While his critics have suggested that he grew fixated with Alice Liddell, took photographs of her in inappropriate poses and was devastated when she broke away from him after growing into adolescence, one biographer proposes a very different analysis.

The dodo presenting Alice with a thimble in an illustration by Tenniel GETTY

“There is not any evidence that he was in love with her,” wrote Karoline Leach into the Shadow for the Dreamchild. “No evidence that her family focused on her, no evidence which they banned him from her presence.”

She added: “There are no letters or private diary entries to suggest almost any romantic or passionate attachment, or to indicate which he had a unique interest in her for almost any but the briefest time.”

It was not Alice who was simply the focus of Dodgson’s attentions, she suggests, but her mother Lorina. Definately not being a way of grooming the daughter, their day trips were a cover for a separate and affair that is reckless the caretaker. If the Alice books were written Dodgson was at his 30s that are early.

Lorina, while five years older, was – in the words of writer William Langley – “a free spirit and a renowned beauty stuck in a dull marriage to Henry, the Dean, who had been both notoriously boring and reputedly homosexual”.

He added:“Carroll might have now been viewed as something of an oddity around write my essay Oxford but in contrast to Henry he had been handsome, youthful, engaging and witty. In which he was able to spend an astonishing length of time at the Liddells’ house most of it while Henry wasn’t in.”

It had been this liaison, relating to Leach, which led members of the family to censor his diaries in the place of any inappropriate relationship with an girl that is underage. Her thesis is supported by the findings of another author, Jenny Woolf.

Related articles

She tracked down Dodgson’s bank records on her 2010 book The Mystery Of Lewis Carroll and discovered that despite often being with debt Dodgson gave away about Ј50 a year (Ј5,500 in today’s money) to various charities while earning a salary of Ј300 (Ј33,000 today) teaching mathematics at Christ Church and double that by means of royalty payments from Macmillian, his publisher.

Among the list of charities Dodgson supported was the Society When it comes to Protection Of Women and kids, an organisation that “used to trace down and prosecute men who interfered with children”.

Woolf adds: “He also supported other charities which rehabilitated ladies who have been abused and trafficked and a hospital which specialised when you look at the treatment for venereal disease. It suggests he was concerned because of the damage the sex trade inflicted upon women.”

A sceptic might argue that this is the window-dressing of a child abuser but Woolf makes a telling point in his favour.

About the Author :

Leave a Comment