Born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the writer Lewis Carroll was a popular feature of the Victorian Era. He was many things: a poet, satirist, philosopher, inventor, photographer, and an accomplished mathematician. But he is best known for his novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. Take a leap down the rabbit hole and get to know the creator of the Cheshire Cat and the famous Mad Hatter yourself. Keep on reading to learn 20 facts about Lewis Carroll.
Fact 1: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was born on January 27, 1832.
- He was a writer of world-famous children’s fiction books, notably “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and its sequel, “Through the Looking-Glass”.
Fact 2: He liked to play with words, logic, and fantasy, which often confused his readers.
- The poems “Jabberwocky” and “The Hunting of the Snark” are classified in the genre of “literary nonsense”.
Fact 3: He lived most of his life as a scholar and a teacher, but was also known for being a keen mathematician and photographer.
- Carroll came from a family of high-church Anglicans, and developed a long relationship with Christ Church, Oxford. He eventually became an Anglican deacon in later life.
Fact 4: He was born in All Saints’ Vicarage, Daresbury, Cheshire in 1832.
- Carroll is commemorated at All Saints’ Church, Daresbury in its stained glass windows. The windows depict characters/scenes from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.
Fact 5: He invented a method of writing in the dark.
- Lewis Carroll was a poor sleeper and did a lot of thinking in bed. The notes he made in the dark often turned out to be illegible the next day. So, in 1891, he invented the nyctograph, which is a card containing a grid of cells that could guide his writing in the dark, using a peculiar alphabet he invented for the purpose.
Fact 6: He suffered from a stutter most of his life.
- Not only that, a childhood fever also left him deaf in one ear, and a bout of whooping cough at 17 weakened his chest for the rest of his life.
Fact 7: His most famous work is his children’s novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.
- The story centres on the character Alice, a young girl who falls asleep in a meadow and dreams that she follows a White Rabbit down a rabbit hole. She has many wondrous, often bizarre, and thoroughly illogical adventures. The story takes her on a journey and she meets out-of-this-world characters, very strange creatures, oh and she often changes size unexpectedly.
Fact 8: Alice from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was allegedly based on Alice Pleasance Liddell.
- Throughout his life, Dodgson denied that Alice was based on any real-life person, but “A boat beneath a sunny sky,” the poem at the end of ‘Through the Looking-Glass’, is an acrostic that spells the name Alice Pleasance Liddell.
- An ‘acrostic’ is basically when you take the first letter, of every word, in every line of a poem, and you make up a completely new name/phrase/word.
Fact 9: Carroll displayed natural intellect as a child.
- His “reading lists,” preserved in the family archives, testify to a precocious intellect: at the age of seven, he was reading books such as “The Pilgrim’s Progress”.
Fact 10: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was banned in Hunan, China in 1931.
- Why? Because, the animals were too ‘human-like’ and people worried that it would encourage children to see animals and humans as equals.
Fact 11: He wrote 11 books on mathematics.
- Carroll was a master logician who worked in the fields of linear algebra, geometry, and puzzle-making. In fact, he wrote 11 books that ranged from” An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations” to “The Game of Logic” to “The Theory of Committees and Elections”.
Fact 12: Despite being a brilliant mathematician, Carroll wasn’t very careful with his money.
- He wasn’t concerned with his money and would often overdraft, sometimes as much as the modern-day equivalent of £7,500, though he would pay it back promptly on payday.
Fact 13: Carroll first told the story of Alice to the Liddell girls on July 4, 1862.
- An avid photographer, Carroll was invited by Henry Liddell to snap photos of his family (of Alice in particular) and formed a close bond with the family. On Independence Day, while on a boat, Carroll told the story of Alice to the Liddell girls.
Fact 14: The Cheshire cat was inspired by cheese moulds from the Cheshire county in England.
- Cheesemakers in the area moulded cheese with a cat’s grinning face on it, and sliced it up from the back, so that the cat would slowly disappear, and the last part to be consumed would be the head of the cat.
Fact 15: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” has been translated into 97 languages.
- The book has inspired numerous film and television adaptations including Tim Burton’s 2010 film, “Alice in Wonderland” that was followed by a sequel “Alice Through the Looking Glass” in 2016.
Fact 16: Despite his literary success, Carroll only took one trip abroad and that was in 1867.
- He travelled to Russia and on the way back, he made stops in Poland, Germany, Belgium, and France.
Fact 17: Dodgson published his first piece of work under his pen name “Lewis Carroll” in 1856.
- It was a romantic poem called “Solitude” that appeared in “The Train” under the authorship of “Lewis Carroll”.
Fact 18: In 1876, Dodgson produced his next great work, “The Hunting of the Snark”.
- Written from 1874 to 1876, the poem borrows the setting, some creatures, and eight portmanteau words from Carroll’s earlier poem “Jabberwocky” in his children’s novel “Through the Looking-Glass”.
Fact 19: He may have been writing about his temporal lobe epilepsy in his famous stories “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”.
- The very inspiration for Alice’ adventures like falling down a hole is familiar to many people with seizures. Alice often feels that her own body (or the objects around her) are shrinking or growing before her eyes, another seizure symptom.
Fact 20: On January 14, 1898, Lewis Carroll died of pneumonia following influenza.
- He died at his sister’s home in Guildford, in the county of Surrey, just four days before the death of Henry Liddell.