Lewis Carroll - A Life of Nonsense!
If you have ever read the stories of Alice in Wonderland, you understand the meaning of nonsense. Floating teapots and falling down a well, talking Cheshire cats, and a deck of cards with the likeness of humans are just small creations from the mind of author Lewis Carroll. Even more interesting is the fact that the author's real name is Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He was born in 1832 and passed away in 1898 and is the man behind the famous books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
From a young age, Lewis Carroll was enamored with magic. He grew up in a large family that included 11 children. He was the oldest. With so many younger siblings to entertain, Lewis Carroll employed his wit and fancy for nonsense and whimsy to help occupy his brothers and sisters. While his stories may be full of mischief and magic, he was also a renowned mathematician and logician. In fact, after graduating Christ Church College in Oxford, he stayed there as a professor and lecturer for many years.
Lewis Carroll had many interests besides writing fantasy fiction. He perfected the art of photography and enjoyed taking pictures of children. Some of his clients were rich and famous and one in particular, was the subject that the character Alice from Alice in Wonderland was based upon. Her name was Alice Liddell and she was the daughter of the dean at Christ Church College in Oxford. After taking her pictures, he imagined the whimsical tales and adventures of Alice in Wonderland and based the drawings of the character on her images.
Lewis Carroll was also interested in religion and sought out deacon's orders in 1861. Unfortunately, due to a speech impediment, he was never fully ordained feeling as though he would not be able to speak well in front of a congregation. Undiscouraged, he began writing with passion and created his famous books as well as comic books and children's stories. The Hunting of the Snark, Jabberwocky, Sylvie and Bruno and various humorous children's works were included in his writings however, none were as successful as Alice in Wonderland was.
While Lewis Carroll attended college, he was home schooled during his youth. When he turned 12, his family sent his away to school in efforts to help him with his disability and find the challenges necessary for his gifted mind. What many people did not know is that his speech stammer was only evident in the company of adults. When he was teaching children or recreating his stories of fantasy and nonsense, his speech was literally perfect. This has many people believing that he suffered more from an anxiety disorder than a speech disorder. It is speculated that as a way to incorporate his troubles with speech into his literature, the character from Alice in Wonderland called the Dodo who had frequent trouble getting his words correctly, was actually outlined after Carroll himself.
Many people attribute the board games today, such as Scrabble and Word Ladder, as inventions of Lewis Carroll. Along with his passion for nonsense, he also thoroughly enjoyed challenging activities based on logic. He wrote philosophical pieces such as What the Tortoise Said to Achille, which along with others was published in professional journals during the late 1800's. Many things about his life have been revealed through his personal diaries. Interestingly enough, 7-8 pages of his 13 diaries are missing leaving behind plenty of mystery and speculation. This is not surprising for a creative man like Lewis Carroll and seemingly fits his ideals for fantasy.