The Bandersnatch fled
as the others appeared

509    The Bandersnatch fled as the others appeared
510        Led on by that fear-stricken yell:
511    And the Bellman remarked “It is just as I feared!”
512        And solemnly tolled on his bell.

Lewis Carroll (text) and Henry Holiday (illustration)
Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder
Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
On Borrowing

2022-05-31 (my 5696×4325 assemblage: 2013)
update: 2022-11-08

Carroll & Religion




Charles Darwin

The Bellman and Charles Darwin.

As for Darwin’s beard see also: Charles Darwin’s wild whiskers in From Charles Darwin’s beard to George Eliot’s right hand: 4 famous Victorian bodily quirks

In an early preparatory draft, the Bellman had a quite different face. Henry Holiday later used that face (an Oxford colleague?) in another illustration.

2017-08-27, updated: 2022-10-31

Waistcoat Poetry


There was an old man of Port Grigor,
Whose actions were noted for vigour;
He stood on his head
till his waistcoat turned red,
That eclectic old man of Port Grigor.

Edward Lear, 1872


He was black in the face,
and they scarcely could trace
The least likeness to what he had been:
While so great was his fright
that his waistcoat turned white –
A wonderful thing to be seen!

Lewis Carroll, from “The Hunting of the Snark”, 1876


Martin Gardner annotated (MG058) to The Hunting of the Snark that Elizabeth Sewell pointed out in The Field of Nonsense (1952) that a line in Carroll’s poem has a similarity to a line in a limerick by Edward Lear.

See also:

In The Field of Nonsense (I use a 2015 reprint), Elizabeth Sewell compared Carroll’s waistcoat stanza and Lears’s waistcoat limerick while taking a safe distance to considering “mutual plagiarism” by stating that “there is no evidence that either man was familiar with the other’s work”, adding that “the likeness do not in any case suggest borrowings…” (p. 9). However, Carroll/Dodgson knew Lear’s work (Marco Graziosi), and borrowing isn’t necessarily evil.

2017-09-11, update: 2022-10-24

My 1st Snark Trophy

My first Snark encounter was in 2005. Then, after almost four years, I entered the Snark hunting grounds in December 2008. could give you an idea where I was in 2010.

The image shows illustrations by Henry Holiday (from The Hunting of the Snark, 1876) and Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (Allegory of Iconoclasts, aka The Image Breakers, around 1567): In the “mouth” of Gheeraerts’ “head” a praying priest is depicted. The shape of the priest also is visible in the “mouth” of Holiday’s vanishing “Baker”.

There is more — with acknowledgments to Mahendra Singh, to John Tufail and to the Internet.

And there are more big heads.

Articles in this blog about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing.

2017-08-28, updated: 2022-10-21

Benjamin Jowett

Image sources: (1, 4) Henry Holiday, (2) probably by The Autotype Company, after Désiré François Laugée, (3) from cover of Benjamin Jowett and the Christian Religion by Peter Hinchliff.

Need I rehearse the history of Jowett?
I need not, Senior Censor, for you know it.
That was the Board Hebdomadal, and oh!
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow!

C.L. Dodgson, from Notes by an Oxford chiel (1874)

For comparison (inspired by Dodgson?):

First come I. My name is J-W-TT.
There’s no knowledge but I know it.
I am Master of this College,
What I don’t know isn’t knowledge.

Source: The Balliol Rhymes (written in the 1880s), ed. W. G. Hiscock, 2nd edn. (1939; Oxford: printed for the editor, 1955): 1-25. PN 6110 C7H5 Robarts Library (Wikipedia: In 1880, seven undergraduates of Balliol published 40 quatrains of doggerel lampooning various members of the college under the title The Masque of B–ll––l, now better known as The Balliol Masque, in a format that came to be called the “Balliol rhyme“.The college authorities suppressed the publication fiercely.)

I suggest that The Barrister’s Dream in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark is about E.B. Pusey’s attempt to trial Jowett for heresy at the Vice-Chancellor’s Court for unpaid bills for heresy. According to Karen Gardiner (see p. 55 below), the trial began on 1863-03-20. The judge was an academic common lawyer. Jowett’s lawyer objected to the formally civilian court being turned into something like a court of common law, which had no jurisdiction in spiritual matters. The Punch (the anonymous author Dodgson?) called it the “small debts and heresies court“. The judge disagreed, provided it could be shown that Jowett had been guilty of breaking any of the university statues. As this could not be shown, the case was dismissed. Thus, the trial was a mess like the trial in the Barrister’s dream.

“In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
      To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
      If you grant the plea ‘never indebted.’

See also:
※ Lewis Carroll, «Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves.» in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
※ Lewis Carroll, «The New Method of Evaluation as applied to π», 1865
※ John Tufail, The Jowett Controversy, 2010 (document creation date)
※ Karen Gardiner, Escaping Justice in Wonderland (An adaption of a paper given at the Glasgow International Fantasy Conference 2018), published in The Carrollian No. 33 p. 47 ~ 60, March 2020 (abstract, 2018).
Essays and Reviews

Instagram | Reddit

2018-05-03, update: 2022-10-17

Three Creeds, Three Dogmata, Trinity

To what could the Baker’s “three pairs of boots” refer?

This office [of the Helmsman] was usually undertaken by the Boots, who found in it a refuge from the Baker’s constant complaints about the insufficient blacking of his three pairs of boots.

029    The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
030        He had seven coats on when he came,
031    With three pairs of boots—but the worst of it was,
032        He had wholly forgotten his name.

In Understanding Carroll’s Theological and Philosophical Views” (2010), John Tufail wrote:

The Jowett controversy was just a small part of what he [Pusey] saw as an extremely serious challenge to the authority of the Anglican Church and the basic tenets (the 39 articles and the three Creeds) upon which the Church was based. To Pusey three things were absolute both in terms of faith and of meaning. These were
※ the inviolability of ‘The Word’ discussed above,
※ the concept of ‘Original Sin’, and
※ the idea of ‘Eternal damnation’ for those deemed unrepentant or beyond Salvation.
Of the three, the one closest to Pusey’s heart – the thing that most of all kept the Christian flock close to the fold, was the idea of Eternal Damnation. Pusey’s views on this were clearly defined in a letter he wrote on the subject to Bishop Wilberforce in February 1864:

One can hardly think of anything for the hidden blasphemy of that judgement which declares to be uncertain which our Lord taught, and for the loss of the countless souls which it will involve, if not repudiated by the Church. For nothing, I suppose. Keeps men from any sin except the love of God or the fear of Hell.

People like lists with three points. They list up what a god may be (Trinity), and the Three Creeds are another list among such lists with three items.

The Baker’s “three boots” could be a reference to more than one of theese three items lists.


(Frankly speaking, to me as an atheist all this is more difficult to digest than one important apperance of “three” in nature, the three generations of matter.)

2018-07-07, updated: 2022-10-16

Page 83

«With ‘Baker’ not ‘Butcher” on p. 83.»

Do you think that this “Baker” on page 83 really proves that the book is a first edition and that it should be “butcher”? You find the answer in any contemporary Snark edition. No mistake, the Baker still is there.

More Examples for advertising the first edition of “The Hunting of the Snark”, offered for prices between €200 and €2000:

First edition, first issue of Carroll’s whimsical nonsense poem with “baker” on p. 83 which was later corrected to “butcher”.

First edition, first printing, with “Baker” for “Banker” on page 83.

First issue with “baker” not “butcher” on page 83. It is unknown how many copies were printed this way.

No, it is known: All copies were and are printed this way!

This is about line 560 on page 83, the last page of Lewis Carroll’s tragicomedy. A “Baker” in that line is no proof that the book is a rare first Snark edition. Actually, all copies are printed this way, because that is how it should be. In Henry Holiday’s illustration on page 82 you see the head and a hand of the Baker, not the Butcher and not the Banker. Remember, the Banker had to be left behind in the previous chapter, so he cannot show up in the final chapter. And the Butcher didn’t meet the Snark either.

Thus, there is nothing special about “Where the Baker had met with the Snark.” This alleged error is a myth. Those rare book traders just didn’d (and still don’t) check the facts.

Then there is the JubJub. If you read somewhere that the bird never will look at a “bride”, then better check line 386 on page 55 in the original Snark edition. It’s “bribe”. You can find “It will never look at a bride” in the Internet many times. But that’s wrong.


Removed (not by me) from Wikipedia:

Rare book sellers often claim, that the first edition of ”The Hunting of the Snark” can be identified by the word “Baker” instead of “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line on page 83. However, “Where the Baker had met with the Snarkis correct. “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line would be wrong. Also “bribe” in the 386th line on page 55 is correct, even though in the Internet the erratic “It never will look at a bride” can be found.

(The hyperlinks in this text where not part of the WP text.)

2018-04-02, updated: 2022-10-15

Crossing the Line

  • [left]: Illustration The Crew on Board by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876)
  • [right]: Crossing the Line (1839), based on a print by Thomas Landseer, after Augustus Earle. You will find the print in Robert Fitz-Roy’s Narrative of the surveying voyages of HMS Adventure and Beagle, Vol II (1839).

This is of of the comparisons where am not so sure whether Holiday alluded to the work of another artist. If he did, then you might wait a little bit before you look at my spoiler where I marked possible(?) clues given to us by Holiday.

2017-11-08, updated: 2022-10-14

Mike Batt’s Snark

※ 1987: The Hunting Of The Snark – Royal Albert Hall (1h)

«In 1987 Mike Batt recorded this concert of the early stage album of his “Snark” project. This is not a film of the eventual 1991 West End show, which was much more fully produced and had many more songs and more story. This early concert starred John Hurt, Roger Daltrey, Justin Hayward, Deniece Williams, Captain Sensible, Julian Lennon, Midge Ure, and Billy Connolly, with Batt conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. Music/lyrics/orchestrations by Mike Batt. Based on the poem (as recited in the narration) written by Lewis Carroll.»

※ 2010: The Hunting Of The Snark – Live at Cadogan Hall (9m40s)

Mike Batt’s Snark project


※ 2020-07-22, Interview: John Murray Lunchtime Show with Mike Batt. The whole show on k107FM is worth listening to, but if you are very impatient and want to learn more about Mike Batt’s Snark musical right away, start at 01:18:45 in the podcast:

If anyone's bored, my office have just posted my "Director Showreel". It's about 5 years old but someone found it! Anyway who knows, you might want me to direct your music spectacular feature!

— Mike Batt (@Mike_Batt) September 2, 2020

Mike Batt – Director Showreel (YouTube, 2020)


Mike Batt – A Songwriters Tale (YouTube, 2012)


A “Mike Batt Fans” theme for the Firefox browser:

With dark search text on white background:

Wikipedia | Mike Batt page (in German) | more Snark music

2018-10-15, update: 2022-10-09

Eschatological Snark

According to Karen Gardiner, “it would be unwise for anyone to imply that they have found the answer to the book’s mystery.” The book is Lewis Carroll’s and Henry Holiday’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). Initially I was that unwise. There several answers.

I started my Snark hunt in December 2008. Initially I probably had been quite unwise and thought that I had found the answer. That might explain the title The real story behind “The Hunting of the Snark” of an early post in The Lewis Carroll Forum. I am sorry for that botched exercise in self-irony. There is not just one single “real story” behind Carroll’s Snark poem. There are many answers.

Gardiner gave her warning to Snark hunters in her paper Life, Eternity, and Everything: Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll, published on p.25~41 in THE CARROLLIAN, No. 31, mailed by the UK Lewis Carroll Society to me in June 2018.

As for “Article 42” in Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles and “Rule 42” in The Hunting of the Snark, the main argument of Gardiner’s June 2018 paper is “that Carroll’s frequent and unexplained use of the number 42, and in particular his development of Rule 42 in the preface of The Hunting of the Snark and Rule 42 in Alice’s trial scene highlight the doctrine of eternal punishment that Carroll was so concerned about.”But if Rule 42 is not just a random number, preferred by some inexplicable reason by Carroll, but is actually a theological nod to a discarded article of faith, then the riddle may be solved. The rule may indeed be the oldest (that is, from 1553 rather than 1571) and so the King, in some senses, is correct. But Alice is also correct. ‘This rule has already been rejected as unnecessary and flawed and therefore cannot be used by the court to justify ejecting her.
It is therefore this paper’s argument that Carroll’s frequent and unexplained use of the number 42, and in particular his development of Rule 42 in the preface of the “Hunting of the Snark” and Rule 42 in Alice’s trial scene, highlight the doctrine of eternal punishment that Carroll was so concerned about. The 42nd Article of Faith that had been eventually rejected by the reformers and yet which was insisted upon by the majority of senior clerics in the Victorian Anglican Church should, Carroll appears to be saying, be regarded as invalid (as he argues strongly in his paper on Eternal Punishment). Rule 42 in the Snark and in Alice is shown to be deficient in understanding, unenforceable, and pastorally and doctrinally inappropriate. As has already been stated, Frederick Farrar believed that “the English Church showed the highest wisdom in rejecting the forty second article”. It appears that Lewis Catroll agrees.

The issue was addressed in this Blog in December 2017: Eternal Disconnect.

As for Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles and the Baker’s 42 boxes in The Hunting of the Snark, Gardiner made me aware of Angus MacIntyre‘s comment (1994) “The Baker’s 42 Boxes are the original Protestant Articles of 1553, with Thomas Cranmer’s name on each.” Since 2010 I believe that too. Thanks to Karen Gardiner’s 2018 paper in THE CARROLLIAN and to Angus MacIntire’s suggestion I now know that linking the Baker in The Hunting of the Snark to Thomas Cranmer (among other references) is not such a weird idea after all.

Also Mary Hammond (a pen name of Mary Hibbs) recognized in 2017 that eternal damnation (Article 42 in the 42 Articles) was an issue which Carroll/Dodgson might have addressed in The Hunting of the Snark.

The Article 42 in the 42 Articles was of special interest to Carroll/Dodgson, who objected to the belief in an eternal punishment. But I don’t think that this explains why in The Hunting of the Snark Carroll came up with 42 boxes rather than 39 boxes as a reference to one of the most important foundations of the Anglican church. I suggest that Carroll chose the “42” as among several references to Thomas Cranmer, the author of the 42 Articles.

I started in December 2008 to be unwise with a single finding. But soon I understood, that there are many answers to Lewis Carroll’s and Henry Holiday’s textual and pictorial puzzles in The Hunting of the Snark. There are no references in Gardiner’s papers to my findings related to Thomas Cranmer and his 42 Articles, but it is good to learn that also theologists write about religious aspects of The Hunting of the Snark. Reverend Karen Gardiner is a Priest in the Church of England.


2018-07-06, update: 2022-10-05

The Mathematical World of C.L. Dodgson

Had no idea Carroll diagrams existed! A new rabbit hole to disappear down, methinks🐰@GreshamCollege

— Small Press (@smallpressbooks) October 21, 2019

The Mathematical World of C.L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) vía @YouTube

— Profesor Raul Alva G (@Prof_Raul_Alva) October 21, 2019

On voting:

2019-10-22: Below you find text (2018-05-13) moved from to this blog article.

Carroll/Dodgson tried to fight against apodictic assertiveness and oversimplification not only by means of nonsense poetry but also by means of mathematics. He expected decisions to have a solid base – like fair voting:

One small part of Dodgson’s work, though, has impressed social scientists: his analysis of the mathematics of voting. His interest in the topic was sparked by the deliberations of his colleagues at Christ Church over such matters as how to choose a new belfry. Dodgson’s pamphlets on voting were largely ignored until 1958, when a British economist, Duncan Black, noticed that there had been nothing so good on the topic since just after the French Revolution., 2009

Ostensibly, [Dodgson] was pondering the best way for the governing body of Christ Church, Oxford, where he was a tutor in mathematics, to decide on the design for a controversial belfry, and to pick new members of the college. […] For college elections, Dodgson first proposed a version of Borda’s method, and also a version of Condorcet’s (though he appears not to have known about Borda’s and Condorcet’s work). Later, he developed an interest in politics beyond the walls of Christ Church, and, in the eighteen-eighties, he tried to find ways to secure equitable representation in Parliament for minorities., 2010

Dodgson’s method of taking votes on more than two issues (1876) attempts to find winners in case initially there is no winner. The method was applied at Christ Church college for a small number of candidates. However, for large lists of choices, the rearranging of candidates (until a winner is found) requires a computing power which surely was not available then. And in 2006 it still was a challenge (see McCabe-Dansted below).

2019-10-22, updated: 2022-09-05

On Borrowing

One of the surest tests [of a poet’s superiority or inferiority] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

T. S. Eliot, p. 114 in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1920

Likewise, a good illustrator welds the theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different and sometimes even funnier than that from which it is torn.

And Lewis Carroll may have borrowed from Thomas Gray.


All art is infested by other art.

(Leo Steinberg, in Art about Art, 1979)


Gustave Doré was an inspired master thief too:Segments from:
※ Plate I (mirror view) of Gustave Doré’s illustrations to Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1863),
※ Matthias Grünewald’s Temptation of St Anthony (c. between 1512 and 1516, a panel of the Isenheim Altarpiece, now located at Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France).

The borrowing never ends:

2018-02-18, update: 2022-09-05

The Beaver’s Lesson

The Butcher reasoning with the Beaver.

This is the illustration (partially inspired by various works of other artists) to the chapter The Beaver’s Lesson.



2017-09-26, updated: 2022-09-04

Lime Twig

I was walking on a hillside, alone, one bright summer day, when suddenly there came into my head one line of verse — one solitary line — “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” I knew not what it meant, then: I know not what it means, now; but I wrote it down: and, some time afterwards, the rest of the stanza occurred to me, that being its last line: and so by degrees, at odd moments during the next year or two, the rest of the poem pieced itself together, that being its last stanza.

Source: From Lewis Carroll’s notes, found in Alice on Stage, The Theatre, April 1887.
See also:

That walk over the hills near Guildford took place on 1874-07-18. I think that leaving such a nice origination story to his readers is part of Carroll’s skillful marketing of his Snark ballade.

Oliver Sturm, who translated The Hunting of the Snark into German (Die Jagd nach dem Schnatz. 1996, ISBN 978-3-15-009433-4, p. 85) called that a “Leimrute für Kritiker” (“lime twig for critics”).

I don’t think that Carroll misleads his readers when he said “I know not what it means“. He just made his poem as ambiguous as possible. The motive: Widening the interpretation space of his Snark poem. With that wider space, a book makes more readers happy (and therefore sells better, which is a nice side effect).

In case his readers (like me) think they have discovered some obfuscated meaning, it is the reader (again like me) who can be hold responsible for her or his interpretation, not the author. So, as for my interpretations, there still is the possibility that I am misleading myself.

This is why the Snark hunt never will end.

2017-12-17, update: 2022-07-16

Pursuit of Happiness

Part of C.L. Dodgson’s (Lewis Carroll’s) Snark marketing was to claim that he doesn’t know the meaning of The Hunting of the Snark. But there was a meaning which he liked

To Mary Barber

The Chestnuts, Guildford
January 12, 1897

My dear May,

        In answer to your question, “What did you mean the Snark was?” will you tell your friend that I meant that the Snark was a Boojum. I trust that she and you will now feel quite satisfied and happy.

        To the best of my recollection, I had no other meaning in my mind, when I wrote it: but people have since tried to find the meanings in it. The one I like best (which I think is partly my own) is that it may be taken as an Allegory for the Pursuit of Happiness. The characteristic “ambition” works well into this theory—and also its fondness for bathing-machines, as indicating that the pursuer of happiness, when he has exhausted all other devices, betakes himself, as a last and desperate resource, to some such wretched watering-place as Eastbourne, and hopes to find, in the tedious and depressing society of the daughters of mistresses of boarding-schools, the happiness he has failed to find elsewhere.

        With every good wish for your happiness, and for the priceless boon of health also, I am

Always affectionately yours,
C.L. Dodgson

To all meaning deniers in a nutshell: There is a meaning which partly is Carroll’s own meaning. Therefore The Hunting of the Snark has at least one meaning.


About “May”vs. “Mary”: In The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll (1982, edited by Morton Cohen) and in all copies of this letter in the internet, C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) is being quoted as having addressed Mary Barber with “My dear May”, not with “My dear Mary”. I learned that “My dear May” is correct: Quora | Twitter


2018-04-29, update: 2022-07-16

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