Lewis Carroll

(1832 - 1898)

Short Biography


Lewis Carroll was born in the parsonage of Daresbury in Cheshire, the eldest boy in a family of six girls and four boys.


In 1843 (11) the family moved to Croft-on-Tees in North Yorkshire. Initially educated at home, in 1844 (12) he was sent first to a small private school in nearby Richmond, then, in 1845 (13), to Rugby School, where he was subjected to bullying and unspecified ‘annoyances’ at night. He left Rugby in 1849 (17) and was enrolled as a student in Christ Church, Oxford in 1851 (19), graduating in 1854 (22).


He became lecturer in Mathematics at Christ Church, a position he held for the next 25 years.

First publications

Between 1854 (22) and 1856 (24) he had various articles published in newspapers and magazines, which were generally humorous or satirical in nature.

Alice Liddell and Alice in Wonderland

In 1856 (24) a new dean, Henry Liddell, took up his post at Christ Church, and Dodgson became friendly with Mrs Liddell, her son Harry, and her three daughters, Lorina, Alice and Edith, photographing the children, and taking them for picnics along the river. It was on one such trip that he began the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which Alice Liddell later asked him to write down for her, and which he subsequently published in 1865 (33) under the pen name of Lewis Carroll. The book was illustrated by Sir John Tenniel, and published at Dodgson’s expense by MacMillan. It was immediately successful, but he nevertheless continued to lecture at Christ Church.


In 1867 (35) he made an overland trip to Russia with Henry Liddon.

Father dies

In 1868 (36) his father died, and he became effectively head of the family, helping his sisters move from Croft-on-Tees to a house in Guildford later that year.

Further publications

He published Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There in 1872 (40), The Hunting of the Snark in 1876 (44), and the two volumes of Sylvie and Bruno in 1889 (57) and 1893 (61). He also published a quantity of books and pamphlets on mathematical problems and logic, and various political pamphlets, often humorous in nature.


From 1856 (24) until 1880 (48) he took photographs of friends, celebrities (including Tennyson, Ruskin and the Rossetti family) and children, mainly girls of his acquaintance, sometimes photographing the girls naked. Concerning his relationships with young girls, he was at pains to point out that whatever he did was firstly in accord with his own conscience in the sight of God, and secondly with the full approval of the girl’s parents. Exactly what he did is more difficult to ascertain, as his diaries have been later edited, lost or defaced, but it is clear that he photographed them naked, and that he had many young girls as his guests for extended periods in his lodgings in Eastbourne.


He died in Guildford in 1898 (66), leaving very specific instructions that his funeral should avoid ostentation and unnecessary expense.