Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/155

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Dodgson
Dodgson
143

him to be companionable to ordinary adult persons. He made, however, acquaintance with eminent men among them Ruskin, Tennyson, Millais, and Rossetti of whom he has left valuable photographs, amateur photography having been successfully practised by him almost from boyhood.

Dodgson went to Russia with Dr. Liddon in 1867, and visited London and its theatres periodically ; but he remained essentially an Oxford man to the very last. At the same time he took practically no part in college business, and had no wide educational enthusiasms or university ideals. But he was always quick to comment upon any Oxford matters that interested him. His curious ironical gifts are nowhere better exemplified than in the humorous oblique protests which he put forth every now and then in the sixties and early seventies as his contribution to public discussions on questions affecting Oxford : such as 'The Dynamics of a Particle,' in 1865, when Gladstone and Mr. Gathorne Hardy (afterwards Viscount Cranbrook) were contesting the representation of the university ; and 'The New Belfry,' in 1872, a very successful attempt to throw ridicule on the ugly wooden box which was placed on the roof over the hall staircase at Christ Church in order to house the bells that had to be removed from the cathedral tower. The new Wolsey tower was built instead, in answer to the outcry.

Dodgson also occasionally displayed some interest in more general matters, and from time to time addressed letters to the London papers on subjects near to him, such as the employment of children in theatres a practice in which he saw no harm and the eight hours question. These public utterances were always shrewd and witty. To a large extent, however, Dodgson was a solitary from first to last, living his own half-cloistral, fastidious, eccentric life, with the odd creations of his nimble fantastic brain for principal company. He died at Guildford, at his sisters' home, on 14 Jan. 1898, aged 60.

Dodgson's first literary efforts for anything more public than Oxford periodicals were written for the 'Comic Times,' founded in 1853. In 1856 'The Train' was started, under the editorship of Edmund Yates, and to this Dodgson contributed verse. It was Yates who fixed upon the name 'Lewis Carroll' from a list of four suggested pseudonyms sent him by Dodgson, Lewis being derived vid Ludovicus from Lutwidge, and Carroll via Carolus from Charles. By this name he is known to thousands who have never heard of his patronymic.

In 1865 appeared 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,' the work by which, with its pendant, 'Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there' (1871), his name is best known and will be known. Therein the author's gift of absurd comic invention and delicate fanciful fun is at its richest ; while the circumstance that the books originated in the wish to amuse one of his little girl-friends animated them with a charm and humanity that are not to be found in the same degree in anything else he wrote. The little girl in question was Alice Liddell (afterwards Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves),Dean Liddell's second daughter, to whom the original story of Alice was told on a river excursion. It was then written out as 'Alice's Adventures Underground,' a facsimile reprint of which was issued in 1886. The first edition of ' Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,' issued in July 1865, was withdrawn by the author on account of the defective printing of Tenniel's illustrations. The book was reissued in November of the same year, although dated 1866 (Athenæum, 11 Aug. 1900). On its true appearance, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' or 'Alice in Wonderland,' as it is abbreviated by most persons was immediately popular, and it has been popular ever since, with a popularity only equalled by its companion, 'Through the Looking Glass,' which, under the full title, 'Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there,' when published in 1871, received a welcome the more warm for having had such a predecessor.

The success of both books was greatly fortified by the drawings of Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Tenniel. 'Alice in Wonderland' has been translated into French, German, Italian, and Dutch ; quotations from it and from its companion volume have passed into the language, and their dramatis personæ constitute a new nursery mythology. The author accomplished what was practically a new thing in writing—a persuasive yet rollicking madness that by its drollery fascinates children, and by its cleverness their elders. The two 'Alice' books were dramatised in 1886 by Mr. Savile Clarke, and the play was successfully produced in London for the Christmas holidays of that year. It has since been revived more than once, and has been performed on provincial tours. Dodgson took great interest in the adaptation, and wrote for it a song to be sung by the ghosts of the oysters which the walrus and carpenter had eaten, and also additional lines to the verses beginning '"Tis the voice of the lobster.'

Dodgson's next notable experiment in his