Sensationalism, the Two Camps and the Eternal Child

In a passing conversation, I got a tip that there was a photograph attributed to Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) that had been floating around since at least the 1970s. It is purported to be a photograph of Lorina Liddell, the eldest of the Liddell children with whom Dodgson spent a lot of time and took photographs. When I looked into it, I realized this was not an off-hand remark. BBC2 had just aired a documentary entitled The Secret World of Lewis Carroll on January 31st in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Hosted by Martha Kearney, the film mostly honors the literary achievement of this artist, but in a bizarre twist, the producers claimed a last minute discovery of a photograph suggesting a more sinister interest in children by Dodgson.

I was told that the image could be found on the internet, however I was only able to find this very small one. I would appreciate someone coming forward with a better copy. Two or three versions of this reproduction were available.

Lorina photo cleanSuch a “discovery” is undoubtedly an irresistible bit of sensationalism for filmmakers and would inevitably, and quite incongruously, be included. Taking into account the overall structure of the film, it really seemed tacked on. Anyone who is an expert on the photographic work of Dodgson would recognize this as a forgery (or misidentified) and Edward Wakeling and many others have said so. The real mystery in my mind is why it was produced in the first place. Was it a forgery to discredit Dodgson? Was it a lark by another photographer who noticed the resemblance between a model and the real Lorina Liddell? Or were the identifying marks on the back just a guess by some art dealer who thought he recognized the model and period?

Before delving into historical, psychological and personality issues, it is important to notice that the producers focused only on the forensic evidence and only fleetingly mentioned that real experts on the man considered it a fake. After being in a private gallery in the Paris area, the image was inherited by Musée Cantini in Marseilles. That is where it was subjected to tests by Nicholas Burnett. According to him, the paper stock, albumen residue and probable type of camera—requiring a wet collodion process—was consistent with it having been produced when Lorina was a young teen. He also commented that the mold damage was consistent with that age and would have been difficult to fake. David Anley subjected it to further analysis in the hopes of determining if the model could have been Lorina. After some equivocation by both experts, they each admitted leaning toward the conclusion that the photo was genuine. Particularly disturbing about this is that in a court of law, such experts’ conclusions are compelling testimony in convicting defendants.


This seems to have offered the tantalizing possibility that Dodgson was a repressed pedophile. Given his status as a member of the clergy, repressed is certainly an accurate adjective, but the problem with the term pedophile is that it is far from satisfactorily defined. Kenneth Clark noted that institutional authorities hate dictionaries and encyclopedias because they clearly define things and powerful people and institutions need an environment of ambiguity to thrive. For the purposes of this essay—and the proper definition in my mind—I am defining it as the selfish exploitation (in person) of a child for sexual gratification—and presumably having some deleterious effect on the child’s mental and/or physical well-being. By that definition, Dodgson was certainly not a pedophile and it is unfortunate that his nieces, probably out of a sense of propriety, saw fit to remove pages from his diaries that may have offered clues to his thoughts and mental state.

He often scolded himself for deviations from his personal standard of honor. Being a clergyman, it is likely that these “failings” had at least some sexual component. Although I could personally relate to the man in most ways, we do diverge on the point of sexual repression. I don’t mean to validate Freudian theory, but the sex drive is a powerful force and cannot be dismissed easily. In fact, it was the Catholic Church’s political maneuver to have its priests and bishops be celibate that was key to centuries of sexual misconduct and abuse of children by these celibates. The other factor—given the doctrine of original sin—is the appalling lack of education priests get about the realities of human sexuality. The propensity for this behavior in this demographic is remarkable considering how rare sexual child abuse generally is. The documentary notes that Dodgson did take a similar oath and would, at the very least, have been confused by his own impulses. Despite protestations to the contrary, thought and action do not amount to the same thing. And regardless of whatever confusing distractions he may have experienced, there can be no doubt that his regard for children was worshipful. This would have been consistent with Rousseau’s philosophy that children represented a state of grace that would be corrupted only as they grew up.

The biggest error made by the amateur historian is not accounting for how the context of behavior changes over time and in different cultures. I am constantly (almost ad nauseum) reminded by colleagues of this when analyzing the actions of people living in the Victorian Era or the Hippie Generation. Even if there can be some objective humanist standard of ethical behavior, it is far from easy to disentangle oneself from the biases of one’s own culture. Most people are not even aware of the effect that their culture’s propaganda has on them personally. When taking this all into account, it behooves us to regard Dodgson’s quirks with a compassionate eye and commend him for his personal and public accomplishments and the way he enriched the lives of his child friends, despite the constraints of his society.

With all due respect to academic experts, I am not privy to the sound bites we are supposed to use when discussing the personal lives of celebrities. In the case of Dodgson, I see very little that reflects a deep understanding of his relationship with children. I am peridocially reminded how certain people have an excellent rapport with children; the Kye Tanson post is a recent case in point. The remarkable thing about such people is not so much that they do not fit into adult society which is often a dreadful bore, but because children are treated with respect as real human beings in their own right, these children would naturally gravitate toward such adults, expressing a remarkable confidence. One should not underestimate the capacity of little girls to pursue—perhaps for largely selfish reasons—these relationships and ingratiate themselves to such providers of stories, games, boat rides, tea parties and doting attention. In the case of Alice Liddell, there is evidence that she had a kind of pushy personality that was nonetheless charming—demanding stories, presents and other favors. Acknowledgment of the personal agency of Alice is hardly mentioned in historical accounts. It is therefore conceivable (and I think, likely) that whether or not Alice was Dodgson’s favorite, he was certainly hers up to a certain age. The fact that these girls grow up and change their personalities and priorities was an ongoing source of distress for Dodgson and he would, half jokingly, plead for them not to grow any further. With regards to his personal interest in Lorina, let’s suppose that he had some airy romantic notions about her at one time, I believe if he had actually seen her as a naked young teen, he would have been somewhat revolted. The visual cues for sexual desire (principally pubic hair, breasts and fat deposition) are quite different from the kind of pristine beauty of a child’s body.

Finally, some thought should be given to the personality of people who genuinely enjoy spending time with children. For them, it is almost as if they were promised a magical transformation into adulthood that never happened and they remained eternally children. They are physically adult and have adult libidos, but they seem to have a stronger desire for engaging in non-competitive (sometimes nonsensical) play, an infectious enthusiasm for hobbies, less patience for social niceties and a somewhat refreshing bluntness that may seem odd coming out of an adult’s mouth. These people provide an invaluable service to the next generation and, when endowed with wit and intelligence, an immutable impact on culture as the tales of Alice did.

In the decades that followed Helmut Gernsheim’s rediscovery that the man known as Lewis Carroll was also a skilled photographer of children, Morton Norton Cohen—who appeared on the documentary—discovered that some nudes did still exist. And those scholars who were not rigorously versed in the peculiarities of Victorian culture inevitably applied their own cultural standards of decency. In a defensive reaction to the proposition that Dodgson might have had unhealthy relationships with his little subjects, other scholars may have overcompensated—even denying that Dodgson had any special affinity and bond with children. The result has been a polarization in Lewis Carroll scholarship that, although sensational in our time, is a cynical and irrelevant distraction from the real character of the artist and his contribution to society. This “Two Camps” phenomenon makes the artist—unable to defend himself—a political pawn of grandstanding academics. Scholarship should be used to illuminate the public about our society’s history, not a tool to gain public notoriety. Shame goes to those who, out of expediency, do sloppy research and cater to the lowest common denominator of mainstream culture. BBC2 has certainly come a long way from its landmark days of productions like the Civilisation series.

Control Freak: François Gillet

I was delighted to learn that François Gillet has established his own website and I have updated most of these images for better fidelity.  There are also a lot of images I had not seen before—and may have never been published—on his site under the heading of “Childhood”.  He offers some interesting background on his experiences working with children and his concerns about being type-cast.  Take a look.

I know this does not sound like a flattering title for an artist, but to tell you the truth, this is one of my favorite photographers of all time. I bought one of the artist’s early books—L’album de François Gillet published by Zoom-Paris/Landmark Book Co. (1981)—because I was told it contained some of the most charming images of children. Indeed it did, but the first half contained a number of his still-lifes and I was mesmerized. When I really looked at the images, I recognized the astonishing level of control he must have had over the scene. I just loved the simple sublimeness of a torn loaf of bread, a row of shiny fish or a carefully arranged cornucopia. Viewers should be aware that these effects come from his complete control of the frame and are never retouched. Many younger viewers today initially assume he accomplishes this with some clever use of Photoshop. The first image is a kind of ode to the mysteries of salt and the idea of salt as an artistic medium in its own right.

François Gillet - (Untitled) (1970s)

François Gillet – (Untitled) (1970s)

François Gillet was born in 1949 in France and is now based in Stockholm. His aspiration as a child was to paint, but by his twenties, the compelling way photographs serve as a mirror to nature drew him in. He studied photography at the Arts University College at Bournemouth and graduated in 1971. His work has been published in international magazines and companies from all over the world have commissioned his work for advertising campaigns: Fuji (Japan), Silk-cut (UK), Korean airlines, Brown Brothers Wineries (Australia), Bonne Maman (France) and Orrefors (Sweden). He received a number of awards for his distinctive work from 1979 to 1998 and has exhibited his work in numerous venues since 1984.

When it comes to control, conventional wisdom has it that the challenges to be avoided are children, animals and water. So it is even more remarkable when Gillet became a doting father—of a daughter, Melinda—he would be captivated by her charm and include her in his compositions. Naturally, there are family photos, but this photo is the first time she was a deliberate part of one of his artistic scenes. Instead of proper titles, most accompanying texts are more like descriptions.

When she got older, he shot this more sophisticated version of dressup. This image appeared on the cover of ZOOM (Issue 87, March 1981).

François Gillet – Girl in Mummy’s shoes (1974)

François Gillet – Girl in Mummy’s shoes (1974)

François Gillet – Girl with black stocking (1981)

François Gillet – Girl with black stocking (1981)

Perhaps the most joyous images of his little girl are from this photo shoot. The more saturated image appears on the cover of ZOOM (Issue 97, April 1982). The only full image I had was this one which was lit differently and so is not nearly as color-saturated.

François Gillet - Girl hanging upside-down (1982)

François Gillet – Girl hanging upside-down (1982)

François Gillet - Girl hanging upside-down (1982) (detail)

François Gillet – Girl hanging upside-down (1982) (detail)

Gillet is clearly well-versed in formal art and mythic motifs like The Four Seasons.

François Gillet – Lisa: 4 seasons (1978)

François Gillet – Lisa: 4 seasons (1978)

And he is also knowledgeable about the history of more commercial imagery—whether it be an idyllic image of the joys of car ownership, shooting an ad in the style of Pear’s Soap or observing Charles Dodgson’s (Lewis Carroll) convention of dressing up children in an exotic tableau vivant. This image—part of an ad campaign for Barnängen, a Swedish cosmetics company—appeared on the cover of ZOOM (Issue 61, April 1979) along with an piece featuring the artist.

François Gillet – The flying carpet (1977)

François Gillet – The flying carpet (1977)

He also enlisted the participation of a number of neighborhood children for a series of images—with the assistance of Kristina Lannmark—which was published in Le Petit Théatre (1982). There was a European version published by Publicness and a Japanese version produced in a smaller format. The accompanying texts were in French and Japanese.  Since the playfulness of the original poetry can be lost in translation, I offer both the original French followed by an English translation.

J’ai une idée!
Si on jouait avec elle à la fête foraine?
On va lui faire les montagnes russes!
— Oh oui! Le tobogan et la grande roue!
— Les radios cars et la traine fantôme!
— Ah dites-donc, devinez ce que je vois?
— Tais-toi,
ne montre pas du doigt!


I’ve got an idea!

How about playing with her at the amusement park?
We can get her to go on the roller coaster!
Oh yes! The slide and the ferris wheel!
The remote-controlled cars and the funhouse!
Hey there, guess what I can see?
don’t point!

François Gillet – (Untitled from Le Petit Théatre) (1980) (1)

François Gillet – (Untitled from Le Petit Théatre) (1980) (1)

Pas question de mettre un pantalon
quand on trouve de si beaux cotillons.
Les Lapons ont des caleçons longs.
Les Indiens ont trois fois rien.
Nous, nous montrons nos jupons,
tout en dentelle,
comme la tour Eiffel,
en dentelle


There’s no way I’ll put on pants
when I’ve got such pretty petticoats.
The Lapplanders have longjohns.
The Indians have absolutely nothing.
But us, we show our petticoats,
made completely of lace,
like an Eiffel tour,
made of lace from Alençon.

François Gillet – (Untitled from Le Petit Théatre) (1980) (2)

François Gillet – (Untitled from Le Petit Théatre) (1980) (2)

It is natural to ask in what way Gillet’s vision may have been compromised by doing commercial work. In this sense, he is perhaps one of the most fortunate artists. His way of taking what most people would call mundane and helping the viewer see its unnoticed beauty and character is exactly how he approaches commercial projects. Indeed, his point seems to be that nothing in the world is truly banal to an alert eye. And as marketers have come to recognize, he was perhaps ahead of his time in using imagery, not to tell us about a product, but to tell us how to feel about it.

“…so successfully has he blurred any notional fine line between the two categories. For some decades now he has been surreptitiously insinuating the same sublime purity of vision that he brings to his personal work into the usually prosaic commercial world of advertising.” -Ian Talbot (2010)

His methodology is to build a set in three dimensions, careful to pay attention to every detail of the subjects, the background and the organization of empty space. Because of his obsession with rendering detail, he chose the 8×10 large-format camera. He himself has used the word “control” to describe the process, “in an attempt to be in control of every square inch in the frame”. Only when he believes he has reached the highest level of beauteous perfection does he shoot the scene.

“The definition of illusion as something untrue, as the opposite to reality has always repelled me for how can one live without illusions?…For the last few decades I have explored both the real and fantasy worlds; even with my commissioned work…”

“There is a beauty in making the picture exist in reality before recording it. Somehow it becomes the proof of one’s own existence.”

Despite his seemingly perfectionist style, Gillet continues to evolve—another sign of a great artist. Because of his habit of arranging objects in a frame, he already had a knack for noticing and collecting things. His latest project amps up this visual impact in two major ways. He traveled to Australia to take advantage of its other-worldly landscapes and he no longer offers the viewer just a single shot, but arranges them in a series to form a collage and introducing a higher order of composition. You can see some examples of this on a video produced by Henrik Thomé.

Francois Gillet (official website)

Gillet put together a flipbook of a grown-up Melinda which can be seen here.  I am told she is now an oriental dancer.

Ernest Dowson and the Cult of Minnie Terry

Ernest Christopher Dowson (1867-1900) ranks among the best English poets of the last decade of the 19th century, but he remains little known outside a small circle of amateurs. He belonged to a group of young authors who thought of themselves as “the movement” or “the fin de siècle.” They appreciated “art for art’s sake” and viewed literature as a purely aesthetic activity, devoid of any moral or political message, expressing the inner personality of the author and to be appreciated only for its style. In poetry, they were influenced by French Symbolists, in particular Paul Verlaine for whom verses had to be like an incantation, where the musicality of the words matters more than the ideas that they carry. This view was in opposition to the canons of Victorian literature, where any work had to contain a denunciation of sin or injustice and implicitly call for moral or social reform. Hence this group of young writers earned from their detractors the label of “Decadents”.

Dowson’s poetry has a sparkling character, using repetitions of sounds, as in nursery rhymes: “Violets and leaves of vine / We gather and entwine” (A Coronal), or repeated groups of words, as in songs: “But the spring of the soul, the spring of the soul, / Cometh no more for you or for me. / … / But the flowers of the soul, the flowers of the soul, / For you and for me bloom never again.”  (In Spring). It relies also on the contrast obtained by putting together unrelated words: “They are not long, the days of wine and roses” (Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam), “I cried for madder music and for stronger wine” (Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae, the so-called Cynara poem). It contains also many elegant evocations of love and sensuality: “Let’s kiss when kissing pleases / And part when kisses pall” (To His Mistress).

Ernest Dowson contributed to modern culture in quite unexpected ways. He is credited with inventing the word “soccer”, although he spelled it “socca” or “socker” (The Letters of Ernest Dowson, no. 13 and no. 91). Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind owes its title to a sentence in Dowson’s Cynara poem: “I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind / Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng”. This novel was adapted into a famous 1939 Hollywood film directed by Victor Fleming, starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

Ernest Dowson suffered from both bad health and shaky mood. As writes Desmond Flower in his Preface to New Letters from Ernest Dowson: “From his parents he inherited two destructive factors. From his mother a deep sense of depression … which caused her to commit suicide. From his father he inherited tuberculosis from which both of them died.” Indeed his father, whose health declined, died in 1894 of a drug overdose, but many suspected a suicide; then his mother took her own life in 1895. Years later his friend Conal O’Riordan wrote in a letter to Flower (see the Introduction to The Letters of Ernest Dowson): “I recall Ernest showing a photograph of his mother to me and I was moved to tears (being barely twenty-one at the time) by something extraordinarily pathetic in her charming face.” The following photograph taken in 1868 (scanned from The Letters of Ernest Dowson) shows the 9 month old Ernest on his mother’s lap, and one can see the deep sorrow in her eyes:

Artist Unknown - Ernest Dowson and mother (1868)

Artist Unknown – Ernest Dowson and mother (1868)

The legal proceedings for the inheritance of his parents took many years, so Ernest could not get his share of it. Although potentially a rich man, in reality he lived rather poorly and he died at age 32 from tuberculosis and neglect.

Now followers of Pigtails in Paint will be interested to learn that Dowson loved and worshipped little girls, and several of his poems center about girl love. He was, to repeat his own words about the lawyer William Clarke Hall (Letters, no. 115), “a charming person & properly a worshipper & devout follower of the most excellent cult of la Fillette.” (“la Fillette” means “the Little Girl” in French; Dowson spent a great deal of his childhood in France, thus he spoke French fluently.)

In 1889, Dowson worked in the family business, a dry dock on the river Thames located in a suburb of London. Once a little girl brought some joy in his tedious management work there (Letters, no. 5): “I have discovered an adorable child here, hailing from one of the three publics that surround us on either side—’which pleases me mightily’ as Pepys would say. It is astonishing how pretty & delicate the children of the proletariate are—when you consider their atrocious after-growth. Of course it is the same in all classes but the contrast is more glaring in Limehouse. This child hath 6 years & is my frequent visitor, especially since she has realised that my desk contains chocolates.”

After office hours he would work as sub-editor and dramatic critic for a moribund journal, The Critic; this position allowed him to get free tickets for any play showing and, as an avid theatre-goer, he took advantage of this opportunity. Thus he could admire child actresses on stage and he expressed his devotion for them in a peculiar way: by throwing chocolates at them. He seems to have corresponded with some of them, maybe with Mabel Vance (Letters, no. 16 and 153), but certainly with “Little Flossie”, a 9-year-old American actress billed as “the American marvel”, to whom he referred in his letters to Arthur Moore as “ma petite Californienne” (Letters, no. 1, 2, 5 and 17).

But his favourite child actress was Minnie Terry. Born in 1882, she belonged to the third generation of the famous Terry family of actors. As a devoted fan, Dowson watched all plays in which she acted, collected her photographs and various souvenirs about her. He nicknamed her “Mignon” (for her role in the play Bootle’s Baby), “la petite” or “la chère petite”. Below is a 1889 photograph of the 7-year-old Minnie, taken for The Theatre, available at the National Portrait Gallery.

Herbert Rose Barraud - Minnie Terry (1889)

Herbert Rose Barraud – Minnie Terry (1889)

The following two photographs, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, show Minnie Terry in the role of Mignon in Bootles’ Baby.

Artist Unknown - Minnie Terry as Mignon (1888) (1)

Artist Unknown – Minnie Terry as Mignon (1888) (1)

Artist Unknown - Minnie Terry as Mignon (1888) (2)

Artist Unknown – Minnie Terry as Mignon (1888) (2)

Another one shows Minnie Terry as Mignon, with actor C.W. Garthorne (Charles Warlhouse Grimston) as Captain Lucy, in Bootle’s Baby.

Elliott & Fry - Minnie Terry as Mignon and C.W. Garthorne as Captain Lucy in Bootle's Baby (1888)

Elliott & Fry – Minnie Terry as Mignon and C.W. Garthorne as Captain Lucy in Bootle’s Baby (1888)

This picture of the two, from the National Portrait Gallery, is probably also from the same play.

Elliott & Fry - C.W. Garthorne and Minnie Terry (undated)

Elliott & Fry – C.W. Garthorne and Minnie Terry (c1888)

Edit: There is an illustrated version of the book on which this play is based available on the Internet Archive site.  There was also a silent film released in 1914, in which the “Baby” was played by Margaret O’Meara. – Pip

Dowson wrote in The Critic dated 25 May 1889 a review of the play A White Lie (see Appendix A of Letters), in which he gave a dithyrambic eulogy of her role as Daisy Desmond, praising her perfection and spontaneity—even saying that at a critical moment she saved the play from the false note of some adult actor. Here is a photograph of Minnie Terry as Daisy Desmond, from the National Portrait Gallery.

Elliott & Fry - Minnie Terry as Daisy Desmond (1889)

Elliott & Fry – Minnie Terry as Daisy Desmond (1889)

Finally, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, a picture of Minnie Terry in the play On a Doorstep.

Alfred Ellis - Minnie Terry in On a Doorstep (undated)

Alfred Ellis – Minnie Terry in On a Doorstep (c1890)

A famous contemporary of Dowson, also an avid theatre-goer, did not share his enthusiasm for Minnie Terry. According to Hugues Lebailly’s article “Charles Dodgson and the Victorian Cult of the Child“, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) noted in his Diaries on Monday 2 July 1888 that he felt “a little disappointed” with Minnie Terry’s ‘Mignon’ in Bootle’s Baby, deploring that she “recite[d] her speeches, not very clearly, without looking at the person addressed”.

In the summer of 1889, an amendment was proposed to the Protection of Children bill that would have banned employing children under 10 years as actors on stage. Charles Dodgson wrote an article entitled “Stage Children” in The Theatre of 2 September 1889, explaining that playing on stage was a way for poor children to earn some money for their family while having fun at the same time. He “went on suggesting a long list of sensible measures that would secure their schooling, as well as their physical and moral health and safety, most of which were taken up in the final version of the amendment passed later that year” (Lebailly). On the other hand, Dowson wrote in The Critic of 17 August 1889 an article entitled “The Cult of the Child”, in which he stated that children under ten have by nature superior acting capacities, while among adult actors such talents are the exception. He cited Minnie Terry’s role in Bootle’s Baby as an example.

To Dowson, Minnie Terry represented the perfect model for the little girl, as he wrote (Letters, no. 68): “I’ve been kissing my hand aimlessly from the window to une petite demoiselle of my acquaintance—also par exemple a Minnie & presque aussi gentille as her prototype. This has temporarily revived me”.

His devotion to little girls was exclusive, it did not extend to teenagers or adult women. In his correspondence, he expressed his fear of girls growing up into adulthood (New Letters, no. D1, Letters, no. 53). In 1889, he tried “experiments” of platonic love with two teenage girls: first Lena, a barmaid, then Bertha van Raalte, the daughter of a tobacconist. But these relations did not last long; Dowson was not really motivated.

Dowson showed a rather cynical attitude towards adult women; he seemed to have a purely sexual interest in them, which he likened to debauchery and drinking alcohol (Letters, no. 4, 46, and 68). This shows also in his poetry. For instance, in the Cynara poem, one reads “Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine” and “Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet”. And in the later poem Rondeau, he rejects the “wine-stained lip” of a woman for the “white roses of virginity”. Indeed, it is probable that many of his sexual encounters happened with prostitutes or women he met in bars.

Being fed up with women, he finally confided to Arthur Moore his resolution (Letters, no. 78): “Methinks I will swear off wine & women & weeds & lates hours & confine myself to the writing of the r.o & the cult of Minnie Terry.” (Probably “the r.o” refers to the novel he was writing with Moore). Here are two pictures of Minnie Terry as a kind of romantic pin-up, typical of the Victorian child cult.

Elliott & Fry - Minnie Terry with a dog (undated)

Elliott & Fry – Minnie Terry with a dog (c1889)

Artist Unknown - Minnie Terry (undated)

Artist Unknown – Minnie Terry (c1888)

However, within a few months, fate would have Dowson giving up his cult of Minnie Terry. In November 1889, he entered a cheap Polish restaurant held by Joseph Foltinowicz, located at 19 Sherwood Street in Soho, at the back of the present Regent Palace Hotel. “I discovered it. It is cheap; the cuisine is fair; I am the whole clientele, and there is a little Polish demoiselle therein (Minnie at 5st 7—not quite that) whom it is a pleasure to sit & look at.” (Letters, no. 73) The “little Polish demoiselle” was Adelaide, the proprietor’s daughter, aged eleven and a half years, whom he nicknamed “Missie” or “Missy”. He would soon fall in love with her and, quite unexpectedly, he would continue to love her as she grew into her teens (cf. the poem Growth). Although she rejected his marriage proposal and eventually married another man in 1897, his feelings for her did not abate. That is how Ernest Dowson became the great poet of love that we now know. This is a very long story that will be told on another occasion.

References and further readings:

See also: What’s in a Name? Charles Dodgson

More material on Ernest Dowson in Agapeta.

The Definition of Gymnastics: Ernst Vollmar and Ludwig Hohlwein

In contemporary society, students find it surprising that the word “gymnastic” comes from the Greek meaning to train or exercise naked. Further digging would reveal the ancient Greek ideal of the nude masculine form, the foundation of the Classical Nude in sculpture. The peculiarities of that culture relegated women and children to second-class status except in those few instances when a young boy happened to catch the fancy of a powerful older patron. In today’s more complex world, children feel more iconic of the notion of free spirits than those “free” and chauvinistic citizens of the ancient city-states.

A wonderful book has come to my attention that I felt ought to be shared right away. It is a photographically illustrated book on children’s gymnastics published in 1925 called Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (Children’s Gymnastics in Play), written by Alice Bloch and published by Dieck & Co.

Ludwig Hohlwein - Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (cover) (1925)

Ludwig Hohlwein – Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (cover) (1925)

The cover illustration was painted by Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949), a well-known illustrator of posters. Lamentably, he did not do any other work featuring children in this style. The photographs were by Ernst Vollmar. Practically nothing is known of him except that he was a contemporary of Lotte Herrlich, Carl Lepper and Genja Jonas who also did much work with German naturists. The first two images set the stage showing everyday scenes and some pagan-inspired rituals commonly associated with these communities.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (1)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (1)

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (2)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (2)

The book was not meant to be the kind of serious exercise guide that would become ubiquitous later in the more regimented and rigorous Nazi regime. It is as the title suggests—playful. The names of the exercises are clearly light-hearted or fanciful: Sounds of Spring, Clapping to the Beat, Blowing Trumpets, Leapfrog, Rocking Horse, Ostrich, Somersaults and Scurrying Like Mice. Quite a few of them required interaction with a partner. The first illustrates some mock flute blowing.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (3)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (3)

The next shows two children forming an arch or gate.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (4)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (4)

These children appear to be hopping like rabbits. I remember an incident when eBay refused to allow a seller to post an image of a girl in such a pose even while wearing a swimsuit! I suppose Playboy has spoiled the sweet innocence of the bunny for many of us.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (5)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (5)

It is interesting how stereotypes and language change. The caption calls the next image “Greeting Like a Mohammedan”. Mohammedan is an old-fashioned term for Muslim, but perhaps the American term “Sitting Indian Style” is more appropriate as this meditative posture was in wide use in northern India well before the advent of Buddhism or Islam.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (6)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (6)

These girls are demonstrating “Flying Like a Bird”.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (7)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (7)

Different stages of this “Clock-Flower” are illustrated in the book.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (8)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (8)

Here are two illustrations of the “Flying Jump”.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (9)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (9)

It is hard to say what these girls are doing, but it appears to be some kind of alternating stroke motion.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (10)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (10)

There are many scenes of these girls skipping rope.

Ernst Vollmar - from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (11)

Ernst Vollmar – from Kinder Gymnastik im Spiel (1925) (11)

It should be pointed out that naturism was very popular at the time. A demonstration of this was the fact that Hitler and the Nazis initially wanted to ban these practices, but thought better of it and instead incorporated them into special events promoting their notions of racial supremacy.

I have been informed by one of our readers that some of these images also appeared in a book called Book of Nudes (2007) by Alessandro Bertolotti but in a smaller format.

Invitation to the Bath: Rita Martin

In the early days of photography, a sure way to fame would be to: shoot important sitters and have them exhibited at important venues or have your work consistently reproduced on postcards. Many, like Reutlinger, did both but the child studies of Rita Martin are perhaps the most charming in existence. With a somewhat common name like this, it was difficult to find correct biographical information until an associate who is an avid collector provided it and most of the scans for this post. I want to thank WCL for his contribution and hope to see more of his collection on Pigtails in the future.

Both Margareta “Rita” Martin (1875-1958) and her elder sister Lallie Charles recognized the commercial potential of photography after being employed by Alice Hughes. In the London of the 1890s, Hughes was the leading society photographer and at its height, had a large staff of exclusively women running her operation. When Charles decided to open her own studio in 1897, Martin joined her to help. She opened her own studio in 1906 following the Hughes formula: photographing subjects in pale colors against a pure white background and avoiding men and boys over a certain age. It was Hughes’ contention that men’s apparel was unattractive and not visually engaging to photograph. Martin focused her efforts on actresses such as Lily Elsie and Lily Brayton and child studies—particularly of Gladys Cooper’s two children. However, her most reproduced child studies were of the Luke children—whose father, a carpenter, was responsible for building her second studio. Martin‭ ‬had photographed royalty including Queen Elizabeth as well as the current Queen Mother as a child. Martin’s and Charles’ few surviving negatives were presented to the National Portrait Gallery by their niece Lallie Charles Martin in 1994.

Even Martin’s “conventional” child portraits were distinctive as she took pains to include the subject’s hands creating a somewhat bashful appearance. A couple of these images were published in Graham Ovenden’s Victorian Children.

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (1)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (1)

Martin’s child subjects were usually accompanied by some kind of prop like a sofa,‭ ‬bathtub‭ ‬or other whimsical scene.‭ Consistent with Victorian attitudes about the innocence of children, they were shot in various ‬stages of undress. The artist usually refrained from giving her work titles as postcard producers would likely attach their own phrases to punch up their appeal anyway. Many images saw multiple releases in various forms—including some colorized and some in sepia—making dating difficult. The first postcards featured are of the same girl model preparing for and taking a bath. There are several that belong to this series. ‭The first is a colorized version and has the title “Why Don’t They Bring My Frock?”‭

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (2)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (2)

‭In the next two images, the sponge seems to make the scenes more sensuous. The first has seen many titles including “Oh! It’s Cold”, “The Order of the Bath” and “A Sponge Down”.‭

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (3)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (3)

‭This image has the title “A Cooler”.‭

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (4)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (4)

This postcard features two lovely girls,‭ ‬in minimal dress under an umbrella.‭ ‬The quote at the bottom states,‭ “‬Let’s go back dear,‭ ‬there’s a man‭”‬.

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (5)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (5)

This lovely girl stands behind a set of bars with a well-placed bouquet.‭ ‬The first has the title ‭“‬Behind the Screen‭” and the sec‬ond is titled simply “Shy”. Martin’s work even caught the attention of postcard makers in Germany and these two were printed in Berlin.‭

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (6)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (6)

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (7)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (7)

One of WCL’s favorites is entitled‭ “‬Back Numbers‭” fea‬turing three bare butt children sitting together on a railing from behind.‭ ‬This one features a rare appearance by a boy and has a 1914‭ postmark from ‬a French address.

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (8)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (8)

“Everybody Loves Me,‭ ‬I’m the Baby‭” ‬is the title of this postcard and it has a companion called ‭“‬Nobody Loves Me‭” (not shown here)‬.‭

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (9)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (9)

Here two darling girls embrace for a heavenly pose.‭ ‬The postcard features a quote from Pollock, “Living jewels dropp’d unstained from Heaven” and ‭“‬jewels‭” were ‬added for effect.

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (10)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (10)

Or the quote can be a light-hearted greeting as in this birthday card.

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (11)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (11)

Finally there is‭ “‬Babes in the Wood‭”‬,‭ with a ‬1907‭ postmark ‬from a French address.‭ ‬These seem to be the same two models from the earlier umbrella shot.‭‭

Rita Martin - (untitled) (c1910) (12)

Rita Martin – (untitled) (c1910) (12)

WCL is always adding to his collection, so if you have anything interesting you would like to share, you can reach him through this site.

The models are supposedly the children of famous people (or of the Luke family), but they are not specifically identified on each of these images. It would be appreciated if someone—especially in the vicinity of the National Portrait Gallery in London—could offer more information. For those who have not attempted visiting an archive before, an appointment is usually necessary to examine the relevant materials. In this case, small sets can be retrieved in advance focusing on specific models. The photographs at NPG are stored together according to sitter—not artist—which suggests that at least the names of the models might be known. I have also been informed that they have a box filled with many photocopies of magazine pages where Martin’s work was published. Anyone interested in doing a little leg work can contact this site and get specific contact information to get started.

A Glamorous Bath: Léopold-Emile Reutlinger

I am delighted to inform readers that my friend Stuart has decided to share images from his extensive postcard collection.  I replaced images that were of poor quality and it is interesting to see the variations.  As more samples come in, they will be added. -Ron

There are a lot of charming images of girls in bath scenes. Most are just the spontaneous records of parents, but in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the cult of the child had a strong hold on the European psyche. So it stands to reason that many companies produced staged sentimental portraits of bathtime.

In my opinion, one of the most charming is a series produced by Atelier Reutlinger (Reutlinger Photography Studio) in Paris. When I first saw one of these on a sales site, I had no idea that they could fetch upwards of $50 each. I only managed to acquire one of the cheaper versions recently.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (1)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (1)

Although this particular series (of perhaps a dozen poses) was probably shot by Léopold-Emile Reutlinger (1863-1937) himself, he was actually the third to run the studio. It was founded by Charles Reutlinger in 1850 and through the quality of his work, leveraged his way into the hearts of rich and famous people including models, actors and dancers who would have been instantly recognized in public. There are some charming examples of children as well—perhaps close relatives of other sitters.

Charles Reutlinger - An Angel in Paris (c1880)

Charles Reutlinger – An Angel in Paris (c1880)

In 1880, Charles handed over control to his brother Emile and ten years later it was passed on to his son Léopold. Being raised in Peru, Léopold was eager for the opportunity to run such an important enterprise and he introduced a number of innovations which became the hallmark of the studio name. By this time, it was postcards that kept photography studios and photographers financially afloat, so he made the company’s cards distinctive with meticulous hand-tinting and incorporating art nouveau overlays into the images to add visual interest. The studio was shut down in 1930 after Léopold lost an eye in an accident.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1910)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1910)

Whether the images were proper portraits or soft erotica, they all conveyed a sense of glamour. This girl in various bath scenes may have been shot using some elegant props but none that I have seen had any art overlay and only some had hand-tinting. These are very hard to find, so I have been beating the bushes to find them or at least persuade collectors to share quality scans with us.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (2)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (2)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (3)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (3)

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (4)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (4)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (4a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (4a)

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (5)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (5)

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (6)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (6)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (6a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (6a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (6b)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (6b)

None of these images appear in any online collections, but if you want to see more Reutlinger productions, I recommend visiting Wonderings which also has links to other sites. I do have one other example that I had seen before I was aware that images could be copied from websites, so it is a bad second-hand copy from a printout I made. I hope someone will come forward with a better example of this image.

Léopold Reutlinger - (untitled) (c1905) (7)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (7)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1905) (7a)

Léopold Reutlinger – (untitled) (c1900) (7a)

Because other bloggers may be a little leery about posting some of these because of the nudity, this is the ideal site for displaying them.  Therefore, I urge anyone owning any examples of this series to please come forward and send me some quality scans so they can be put on display here.  Pip can touch up most simple flaws that may exist in any specimens you may have.  Thank you, -Ron

First Lady of the Black Fingers: Julia Margaret Cameron

It is not my wish to insult anyone by including this post, but as a teacher I felt it important to include material about the key players in photographic history. As an amateur art lover, an artist with whom I made early contact helped me by giving me a reading list and a list of relevant artists. That gave me a good foundation and it is my intent to do the same for readers who may not have considered the interesting historical context. About one-sixth of Cameron’s output involved children and many are girls, but perhaps not as many as it might at first appear.

Julia Margaret Cameron (née Pattle) (1815-1879) was born in Calcutta, India of a respectable English family. As her family was well-connected, she was raised to perform the kind of duties expected of a woman of her class and upon her marriage to Charles Hay Cameron in 1838, became a devoted mother of six. Cameron got a late start in photography for two reasons; the techniques were still in their infancy and she had not recognized the need for artistic expression until the children were out of the house and she wanted something to help pass the time. Sir John Herschel, an astronomer and friend informed her of this new technology and she must have at first experimented by borrowing the cameras of others before receiving her own as a gift from her daughter and son-in-law Julia and Charles Norman in 1863. This was an unusual hobby for a woman as it was a technical and messy process using wet collodion and such photographers were noted for their black fingers from handling the chemicals. She was self-taught and worked on her craft in England and then in Ceylon where she and her husband relocated in 1875. Apart from Herschel, she was friends or acquaintances with a number of noted figures including Alfred Tennyson and his wife who were neighbors for a time. Running a business was becoming a respectable practice for the upper classes in Victorian England and photographers were making their fortunes producing postcards from their images. At that time photography demanded a lot of time and money, and though Cameron wanted to supplement her family’s income with her work, that ambition never reached fruition.

Fortunately for us and for posterity, there was a resurgence of interest in Cameron’s work in the 1970s and efforts to track down her surviving photographs began, resulting in the book Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs by Julian Cox and Colin Ford in 2003. 1225 images are known to have survived and are included in catalog form in this book. She was a prolific correspondent and was one of the most written-about women of her time so there is ample documentation about her life and artistry. She classified her work into three general groups: 1) Portraits, 2) Madonna Groups and 3) Fancy Subjects for Pictorial Effect. No matter what the theme, Cameron regarded her goal as achieving a work of beauty. Her earliest efforts did make use of the children in her life, mainly members of her extended family and those of her closest friends. Her first exhibition was in 1865 at the South Kensington Museum. Her accomplishments are even more impressive when one considers the 3 to 7 minute exposure time required. Cameron made efforts to minimize the production time, but it must still have been a formidable challenge to get children to sit still that long. The exposure times also made the modern convention of smiling for photographs out of the question, as such a tense expression could not be maintained.  Although Cameron was a perfectionist when it came to composition and effect, she was harshly criticized for her sloppy technique.  Early photography was a sensitive process; chemicals had to be applied evenly and the photographer had to be careful handling the plate to avoid dust, scratches and other marks.  To preserve the authenticity of the artist’s work, such marks were not cleaned up for this post.

Cameron regarded her early work with Annie Philpot her first official success and this image is listed as number one in the catalog.


Julia Margaret Cameron – Annie (1864)

Many of her works had a sacred theme and a number of images had identical compositions and titles as she experimented with photographic effects and different versions were needed for friends and interested museums curators. I always felt that the sitters had an unusually devout expression in her images. Several of these were called Madonna with Two Children (Cat. #18).

Julia Margaret Cameron – (Untitled) (1864)

Julia Margaret Cameron – (Untitled) (1864)

This ensemble shows some of her favorite models: Mary Hillier (one of her servants), Elizabeth Keown, Mary Ryan, Alice Keown and Mary Kelloway (Cat. #147).

Julia Margaret Cameron – Lilies and Pearls (1864-5)

Julia Margaret Cameron – Lilies and Pearls (1864-5)

Cameron was fascinated with how the quality of a child’s skin comes out in photographs (Cat. #41).

Julia Margaret Cameron – Gentleness (1864)

Julia Margaret Cameron – Gentleness (1864)

It wasn’t that Cameron was especially religious, but children of that time were regarded as pristine and wholesome and that lent well to cherubic or angelic themes. Wings could be used to produce angels and cupids alike (Cat. #889).

Julia Margaret Cameron – (Untitled) (1872)

Julia Margaret Cameron – (Untitled) (1872)

An image like this may seem a bit startling with children, but the severity of the effect might have been exaggerated by the long exposure and as children were regarded as uncorrupted, the viewer of that period might imbue such images with deeper spiritual meaning than could be achieved with adults (Cat. #858).

Julia Margaret Cameron – The Turtle Doves (1864)

Julia Margaret Cameron – The Turtle Doves (1864)

Cameron and Charles Dodgson were well acquainted and collaborated from time to time. This piece resembles his work with Beatrice or Evelyn Hatch. After seeing some of Cameron’s angels, Dodgson probably requested a “cleaner” image of the girl without the accoutrement of wings. To me, Cameron’s title suggests an eerie double meaning. The more obvious is that this piece was a special request made to order, but there is also the suggestion that such an ardent desire for this image was unseemly and precipitates a child’s fall from grace (Cat. #896).

Julia Margaret Cameron – An Angel unwinged by your desire (1873)

Julia Margaret Cameron – An Angel unwinged by your desire (1873)

Many times while reviewing the catalog, I was surprised that a particular image was in fact a little boy. Her soft focus and motifs naturally emphasize the feminine qualities and it was fashionable for boys in upper-class families to wear their hair long to bring out their youthful beauty. The sitter in this image was Stephen Powys (Cat. #1013).

Julia Margaret Cameron – A Lovely Sketch (1873)

Julia Margaret Cameron – A Lovely Sketch (1873)

The parallels between Cameron’s and Sally Mann’s work is unmistakable. Both women, apart from being mothers, had obsessive personalities when pursuing their art. After Immediate Family and What Remains, Mann became fascinated with homemade cameras and old photographic techniques with long exposures and, like Cameron, likes the feel of handling the chemicals and other materials required in the process. This is demonstrated in the excellent documentary of Mann called What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann.

What’s in a Name? Charles Dodgson

When I first made this post, I had only begun my foray into the scholarship of Lewis Carroll.  I simply wanted readers to realize that even a personality as noted as Carroll engaged in some nude photography of little girls.  I did not realize that some of my sources—most especially Cohen—would be regarded as manipulated and biased.  I may not have the time in the foreseeable future to update this post and remedy things so I strongly suggest after looking at this post, you read the scholarly comment offered by one of our readers and my reply to get a more balanced perspective.  

Also, I have been informed that images of the original photograph used to produce the third image below appeared in Anne Higonnet’s Pictures of Innocence: The History of and Crisis of Ideal Childhood (1998).  I think it is worth a look.  -Ron

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) is better known to most people as Lewis Carroll, the creator of the Alice stories and the inspiration for a plethora of imagery and stories ever since. What is less well-known was his affinity for the company of children and his mastery in photographing them.

He received his first camera in 1856 and in short order, demonstrated his skill with the technology culminating in a public exhibition with the Photographic Society of London in 1858. This is even more impressive given the messy wet collodion process that was common at the time. He did shoot a number of portraits and adult groups which would have been sufficient to secure his place in history never mind his work with children.

When I was invited to co-host this blog, I knew it was important that this be my first post containing images. Not only is this artist historically important, but after I read Lewis Carroll, Photographer of Children: Four Nude Studies and Lewis Carroll: A Biography both written by Morton N. Cohen, I was shocked by the almost identical intellectual, social and aesthetic sensibility we both had. Perhaps some may find it presumptuous, but I feel especially qualified to discuss Dodgson’s motivations and attitudes. The reader will notice I express a greater certitude and less objective detachment than when I discuss any other artist or work.

Although he may have subconsciously registered the natural beauty of children early on, particularly the prettiness of girls, he was first drawn to children because of their minds. They express an exuberant freedom and an openness that Rousseau would have termed their “natural animal spirits”. Even a 6 to 8-year-old girl can have a surprisingly well-developed intellect, facility with language and social skill to make them charming enough companions. Dodgson took the time to lavish attention on his child friends in the form of elaborate tea parties and other diversions. So, it is natural that he should want to preserve forever their images and in the course of that endeavor, begin to consciously notice their physical beauty as well.

Dodgson kept extensive diaries during his life and the first mention of shooting a subject nude was in 1867. His sensitivity about the comfort level of the parents and children is quite touching and his obsession with only shooting girls with “good figures” clearly demonstrate that his work in this area was legitimately aesthetic. His best work were tableaux with staged backgrounds, costumes and situations to build up a scene with the child(ren) center stage. Many good examples can be found online and here in this blog.

Dodgson was quite conflicted about his pursuits: between his desire to produce compelling images for his own enjoyment, concern about how others might regard his unorthodox work and possible ridicule his friends might receive once they grew up. Sound familiar? It is hard to speculate on how many nudes were originally produced, but only 4 are known to survive today. All sitters were children of people he knew personally very well and many plates were sent out to be colorized which is also quite telling. Ben Maddox called these images saccharine, but this perfunctory assessment was unfair given the almost obsessive labor of love these images must have entailed. Dodgson pulled out all the stops in his attempt to enhance the natural beauty of each image. It seems from his diaries that he intended to continue his photography after this prolific burst but he simply could not manage the time to learn the newest techniques after that.

Dodgson secured a mathematical lectureship at Oxford, specializing in logic. The position required that he pursue his religious education as well and eventually he became a deacon of the Church. He must have realized he could not get far because of his stammer but he managed as a kind of substitute minister when needed. Henry Liddell, who became a Dean at Oxford, became Dodgson’s boss and brought with him a young family. Early on, he befriended the oldest girls: Lorina, Alice and Edith. His bond with Alice was especially strong and he would entertain the girls with his vivid nonsensical stories during their outings together and the girls were incorporated as characters in his stories. He finally wrote down some of the stories and bound them as a gift for Alice. Encouragement from friends then compelled him to have them published. The use of the pen name Lewis Carroll was an attempt to keep his popular writings from interfering with his private life. Also contrary to speculation, Dodgson’s fantasies were not hallucination-induced rantings, but creative musings about the bizarre discoveries being made in the mathematics of the period.


Charles Dodgson – Beatrice Seated Before the White Cliffs

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (1)

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (1)

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (2)

Charles Dodgson – Evelyn Hatch (c 1879) (2)

Charles Dodgson – Annie and Frances Henderson (c 1879)

Charles Dodgson – Annie and Frances Henderson (c 1879)

Wikipedia: Lewis Carroll