16 July 2010

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) and Alice Liddell

In 1856, Dodgson took up the new art form of photography, first under the influence of his uncle Skeffington Lutwidge, and later his Oxford friend Reginald Southey.  He soon excelled at the art and became a well-known gentleman-photographer, and he seems even to have toyed with the idea of making a living out of it in his very early years.  A recent study by Roger Taylor and Edward Wakeling exhaustively lists every surviving print, and Taylor calculates that just over fifty percent of his surviving work depicts young girls. He would later use many of his photographs of children in conjunction with his writings to add illustration to his work. Alexandra Kitchin, known as "Xie" (pronounced "Ecksy"), was his favourite photographic subject. From 1869 until he gave up photography in 1880, Dodgson photographed her at least fifty times, ending just before her sixteenth birthday. Less than a third of his original portfolio has survived, however; Dodgson also made many studies of men, women, male children and landscapes; his subjects also include skeletons, dolls, dogs, statues and paintings, trees, scholars, scientists, old men and little girls. His studies of nude children were long presumed lost, but six have since surfaced, five of which have been published...

In his diary for the year 1880 Dodgson recorded experiencing his first episode of migraine with aura, describing very accurately the process of 'moving fortifications' that are a manifestation of the aura stage of the syndrome. Several people have suggested the odd experiences Alice undergoes in the stories may have been inspired by migraine-like symptoms. Indeed a condition, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, has been named after it. Also known as micropsia and macropsia, it is a brain condition affecting the way objects are perceived by the mind. For example, an afflicted person may look at a larger object, like a basketball, and perceive it as if it were the size of a mouse...

Lebailly has endeavoured to set Dodgson's child-photography within the "Victorian Child Cult", which perceived child-nudity as essentially an expression of innocence. Lebailly claims that studies of child nudes were mainstream and fashionable in Dodgson's time and that most photographers, including Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Julia Margaret Cameron, made them as a matter of course. Lebailly continues that child nudes even appeared on Victorian Christmas cards — implying a very different social and aesthetic assessment of such material. Lebailly concludes that it has been an error of Dodgson's biographers to view his child-photography with 20th or 21st century eyes, and to have presented it as some form of personal idiosyncrasy, when it was in fact a response to a prevalent aesthetic and philosophical movement of the time...
More at the link for those interested.


  1. WOAH! what's with the picture? i have researched many stories and such and they all say that their relationship was romantic and it was not. so i choose not to bellieve that this picture is real.

  2. Correct. It's not real. In the original Prof. Dodgson was reading a book. The hands of both Alice Liddell and of Charles Dodgson are as fake as can be. The photo of Dodgson in this fake is also flipped around backwards from the original.

    1. You're quite correct, anonymous. Following your tip, I found a print of the original photo here -


      I've deleted the doctored photo from this post so as not to propagate the fake any further.

      Thanks for the heads-up.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...