Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll

His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the comic poem The Hunting of the Snark. He also wrote many short pieces, including Euclid and his Modern Rivals and The Alphabet Cipher.Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (January 27, 1832–January 14, 1898), better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll, was a British author, mathematician, Anglican clergyman, logician, and amateur photographer.
Our site illustrations are from classic Carroll editions and our artist members.
His facility at word play, logic, and fantasy has delighted audiences ranging from the most naïve to the most sophisticated. His works have remained popular since they were published and have influenced not only children's literature, but also a number of major 20th century writers such as James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges.
Allegations of paedophilia
The issue is contentious, with some noting that there is no evidence that Dodgson abused girls, or arguing that child nudes were not uncommon during the era.
Dodgson’s undeniable fondness for children — and especially his photographs of nude or semi-nude girls, and his sketchbooks featuring his own drawings of nude or seminude girls — have led to speculation that he was a paedophile.
The first hints on Dodgson's alleged paedophilia seem to have appeared in 1932, in The Life of Lewis Carroll by Langford Reed. Reed apparently was the first to claim that all of Carroll's female friendships ended when the girls reached puberty, the claim being later caught up by other biographers despite the evidence of the contrary. Before publication of complete Dodgson's diaries in 1953, the view of Dodgson as having no adult life and being preoccupied with children persisted among his biographers, including Florence Becker Lennon (Victoria Through the Looking-Glass (UK title Lewis Carroll), 1945) and the highly influential Alexander Taylor (The White Knight, 1952). After the diaries were published, revealing that many prior notions on Dodgson's life were incorrect, subsequent biographers tended to take an "apologetic" stance, arguing that Dodgson had been a latent deviant.
The issue was rekindled in 1995 with Lewis Carroll, a Biography by Morton Cohen, which deals with the issue much in the line of The White Knight by Alexander Taylor. Cohen writes: “We cannot know to what extent sexual urges lay behind Charles’s preference for drawing and photographing children in the nude. He contended the preference was entirely aesthetic. But given his emotional attachment to children as well as his aesthetic appreciation of their forms, his assertion that his interest was strictly artistic is naive. He probably felt more than he dared acknowledge, even to himself. Certainly he always sought to have another adult present when nude prepubescent modeled for him.” Cohen notes that the children’s mothers were encouraged to be present, and asks if these precautions were the result of Dodgson “insuring himself against slipups.” (p 228–229) Cohen concedes that Dodgson “apparently convinced many of his friends that his attachment to the nude female child form was free of any eroticism,” but adds that “later generations look beneath the surface.” (p229)

Factual material on Dodgson's nude photography is scant. Having taken up photography in 1856, Dodgson recorded brief notice in his diary of his first nude in 1867. Robert Taylor has written that Dodgson’s nude photographs were “limited to eight sessions spread over thirteen years” and are “not the record of a habitual voyeur, pornographer or paedophile, but the response of an overtly sentimental bachelor to the innocent beauty and grace of childhood. Whether this type of photography was Dodgson's way of satisfying or sublimating his sexual desires can never be known and will always remain fruitless speculation.”

Jack the Ripper theories

In 1996 author Richard Wallace published a book titled Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend accusing Lewis Carroll and his colleague Thomas Vere Bayne of being Jack the Ripper. It was largely based upon anagrams Wallace constructed from Carroll's writing. Carroll and Bayne have strong alibis for most of the nights of the Ripper murders, and Wallace's theory has not found support from other scholars. For more information, see the Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend article.

Carroll did show some interest in the Jack the Ripper case, however. A passage in his diary dated August 26, 1891, reports that he spoke that day with an acquaintance of his about his "very ingenious theory about 'Jack the Ripper'". No other information about this theory has been found.