Snark Forum

My blog has no forum. I don’t want do deal with privacy issues caused by storing user data. More important, I am too lazy to manage a forum. (That might change after my retirement from my engineering job in September 2021.)

But there is a nice (albeit presently not too active) Snark sub-forum managed by Mahendra Singh in It’s just the place to discuss Snark.

There you also will find some of my old posts. As I try to keep learning, I of course would write many of them differently today.

Hunting Snark in

If you want to comment on anything you find in the web about The Hunting of the Snark, I recommend to open a thread in that forum, enter the link you are referring to in the post, and write there what you want to discuss.

Comments: Twitter | Forum


Article 42 in the 42 Articles

#42. All men shall not be saved at the length. They also are worthy of condemnation, who endeavour at this time in restore the dangerous opinion that all men, by they never so ungodly, shall at length be saved, when they have suffered pains for their sins a certain time appointed by God’s justice.

Cranmer’s 42th Article didn’t make it into the 39 Articles of the Anglicans, but the debate continued. The reverend C.L. Dodgson was opposed to the dogma of eternal damnation.
        In June 2018, Karen Gardiner suggested that in The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll/Dodgson addressed the Article 42 in Thomas Cranmer‘s Articles.
        Gardiner’s paper (Life, Eternity, and Everything: Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll, July 2018, p.25~41 in THE CARROLLIAN, No. 31) also was based on her knowledge as an Anglican Priest.
        My approach to a possible reference in The Hunting of the Snark to the 42 Articles was different. If I look back at what came into my mind in the year 2014, it was Henry Holiday who made me curious to learn more about the articles 27, 41 and 42 and whether they might have been an issue for the Reverend Dodgson.

2018-07-08, uptate 2020-09-23

Breakfast at five-o’clock tea

Snark mark 2/5:

Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
 That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o’clock tea,
 And dines on the following day.

In November 1859, Dodgson gave a lecture at a meeting of the Ashmolean Society on “Where does the Day begin?”. A clock traveling around the earth always with the sun exactly above of it could stand still but always would be correct. Only the day date suddenly would change somewhere.

There neither were internationally defined time zones yet, nor an internationally agreed date line when Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle travelled around the world, but when he (and the Snark) breakfasted in Tahiti, it probably already was around tea time back home in Carroll’s Oxford. From there it carries us far away, when we imagine breakfasting in Tahiti.

Exerpt from The Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter 18, Tahiti

2019-08-16, uptated 2020-09-12

Page 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.

More Examples for advertising the first edition of “The Hunting of the Snark”, offered for prices between €200 and €1000:

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.

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. 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 Banker (and not the Butcher either). Remember, the Banker had to be left behind in the previous chapter, so he cannot show up in the final chapter.

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.


Discussion: Twitter 2 | Twitter 1 | Facebook (rare books) | Facebook (The hunting of the Snark)

2018-04-02, update 2019-07-02


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 is 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.)


Schilb Antiquarian (Columbia, MO, U.S.A.) via, 2020-02-13

[…] This rare first edition is complete with the nine illustrations by Henry Holiday and features the expected first edition points (noted below). Item number: #9505 Price: $750 CARROLL, Lewis The hunting of the snark: an agony in eight fits London: MacMillan, 1876. First edition Details: Collation: Complete with all pages xi, [3], 83, [3] 9 illustrations by Henry Holiday Edition points: p.83 baker instead of butcher rear board I Was a Boojum […]

2019-11-26, updated 2020-09-11

Knight Letter № 100

In July 2018, the members of the LCSNA (Lewis Carroll Society of North America) received the 100th Knight Letter.

Also in this issue, Goetz Kluge makes the case that a seventeenth-century engraving may have influenced Henry Holiday’s last illustration for The Hunting of the Snark. Goetz’s excellent blog about all things Snark is at

Preface to the Knight Letter № 100, LCSNA, 2018

On pages 55~56 you find a few lines which I wrote about the Baker and Thomas Cranmer in The Hunting of the Snark.

There also is an accompanying web page.
In the end, the Baker met the Boojum. As an allusion to Thomas Cranmer, the hero in Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy had been named “Baker” and also got some “hot” nicknames. Carroll went to the limits of black humor: The Baker got baked.

Incidentally, in parallel to my little note (p. 55~56 in the Knight Letter № 100) on the Baker’s hot names and on Henry Holiday’s pictorial reference to Thomas Cranmer’s burning, a paper «Life, Eternity and Everything, Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll» suggesting textual references from The Hunting of the Snark to Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles has been published in The Carrollian (July 2018, № 31, p.25~41), a journal of the Lewis Carroll Society in the UK. The author, Karen Gardiner, is an Anglican priest. She also addresses the objections of Revd. C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) against the dogma addressed by Article № 42 of Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles.

Angus MacIntyre (1994), myself (2010, 2010, 2015), Mary Hibbs (2017), as well as Karen Gardiner (2018), we all independently from each other suggested that there are such references to Thomas Cranmer and his Forty-Two Articles (the Baker’s forty-two boxes) – coming from different starting points and different backgrounds. As for me, I initially just looked for Lewis Carroll’s (C.L. Dodgson’s) textual references as guidance for finding pictorial references in Henry Holiday’s illustrations.

Twitter | Reddit | Seven Coats | 42 Boxes


PS: A friend told me that the caterpillar (here without hookah) on the front page of the 100th Knight Letter is a Hickory Horned Devil.

2018-07-28, updated 2019-09-08


Lewis Carroll needed a clear mind for his writings. Drugs like laudanum would not have been helpful.

The drug link is a homespun thing. You’ll find it on a host of random forums.

But the experts are usually sceptical. Carroll wasn’t thought to have been a recreational user of opium or laudanum, and the references may say more about the people making them than the author.

“The notion that the surreal aspects of the text are the consequence of drug-fuelled dreams resonates with a culture, particularly perhaps in the 60s, 70s and 80s when LSD was widely-circulated and even now where recreational drugs are commonplace,” says Dr Heather Worthington, Children’s Literature lecturer at Cardiff University.

Source: Is Alice in Wonderland really about drugs?
(by Sophie Robehmed, BBC magazine 2012-08-20)


Let me be perfectly clear here: Lewis Carroll didn’t do recreational drugs. Certainly there were drug references in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and these were picked up on by people with interests in that area, particularly in the late sixties. That is not to say that Carroll never took Laudanum for a medical problem on the advice of a doctor. There is NO direct proof (in his letters or his diaries) that he ever took narcotic drugs. You might ask yourself why students insist that he did and why some teachers teach that he did.

Source: (2004)


2019-12-12, update: 2020-09-01

10 Assumptions About The Hunting of the Snark

Annotations to “10 Interesting Facts About The Hunting of the Snark (Rose Theatre, 2017-09-21)

  1. One out of several (but perhaps less important) reasons to write the Snark might have been that Carroll wrote his tragicomedy The Hunting of the Snark to bring much needed escape and light while nursing his seriously ill godson and cousin Charlie Wilcox who eventually died from tuberculosis.
  2. Part of the Snark ballad is Carroll’s story that he was walking on a hillside near Guildford, alone, one bright summer day (1874-07-18 , allegedly not so bright in reality), when suddenly there came into his head one line of verse — one solitary line — “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” With more that 500 lines the book was published in 1876. He ended up with more chapters (fits) than initially planned. This of course also affected the illustrator Henry Holiday and the engraver Joseph Swain. The sequence of making the illustrations is described in the centennial edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by William Kaufmann in 1981.
  3. Carroll left the meaning of the Snark deliberately vague refusing to answer questions about its meaning. He stated that whatever good meanings are in the book, he was glad to accept an of them as the meaning of the book. The best that in his viev he had seen was by a lady (she published it in a letter to a newspaper), that the whole book is an allegory on the pursuit of happiness.
  4. The poem was published on April 1st 1876 (the date chosen being April Fools Day and before Easter, which was a good time to sell the book). The first print was 10,000 copies and the book has rarely if ever been out of print since.
  5. Unlike Carroll’s many other fantastical creatures, we never see the Snark and its appearance remains a mystery. His lifelong friend, the famous illustrator Henry Holiday proposed something which to Carroll was a “delightful monster“. But Carroll nevertheless refused to allow his lifelong friend to include his drawing of a Boojum turned Snark in the original edition. The Snark only was allowed to applear in the Barrister’s dream.
  6. Snarks are harmless. You even may fetch a Snark home, but keep the greens ready.
    WARNING: If a Snark turns into a Boojum and you get too close to one, you will “softly and suddenly vanish away.”
  7. The Bellman is an expert on Snarks and knows how to describe Snarks.
  8. The Jubjub appeared in Carroll’s Jabberwocky. Some think that the Jubjub might be a pun on the word jug-jug, an English word expressing one of the notes of a nightingale. I believe (and may be wrong with that) that the noisy beast has something to do with jubjubbing chronometers
  9. Acording to the Rose Theatre, Snark clubs dedicated to ‘the glorification of the Snark and its creator’ still flourish and meet to recite the poem. The band of declared Snarkists included W.H. Auden, Willa Cather, John Galsworthy, A.P. Herbert, Elspeth Huxley and C.S. Lewis.
  10. Some believe that the Baker might be a self-deprecating self-portrait in which Carroll pokes fun at his well-known forgetfulness. I don’t think so. The Baker has 42 boxes of luggage. I think he forgot them like Thomas Cranmer forgot his Forty-Two articles for a while. Incidentally, Carroll was 42 years old when he wrote Snark.

Fact Checks

  • Ambiguous: The “Boots” and “the maker of Bonnets and Hoods” in The Hunting of the Snark are two different persons.
  • Unproven: Carroll was on drugs when he wrote the Alice books.
  • Sometimes wrong: Carroll quotes. Check them.
  • Likely wrong: The “Ocean Chart” (the Bellman’s map) in The Hunting of the Snark was made by Henry Holiday.
  • Wrong: C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) invented the word “Snark”.
  • Wrong: Only the first issue of The Hunting of the Snark has “Baker” on page 83.
  • Wrong: There is photographic evidence that Alice Liddell as a child kissed C.L. Dodgson.
  • Wrong ( C.L. Dodgson sent an admiring Queen Victoria a copy of An Elementary Treatise on Determinants.


Not Lewis Carroll

2019-07-12, updated: 2020-06-08

Crossover Literature

The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. It is crossover literature. You read it differently at different ages. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature: Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. Adult readers (at age hundred-forty or so) know more. Some of them will recognize the textual and pictorial references in Lewis Carroll, Henry Holiday and Joseph Swain’s tragicomedy..

Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark has been published more than 140 years ago. It is a reference to the burning of Thomas Cranmer. He and the Baker (the ambivalent hero in The Hunting of the Snark) perhaps hoped that after having left their 42 articles behind, the Boojum won’t get them.


The image serves to compare two illustrations:

  • Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). The complete illustration is on the upper left side. A 135° couterclockwise rotated detail from that illustration has been rendered on the upper right side of this comparison image.
    Source: 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark (April 1876).
  • Faiths Victorie in Romes Crueltie (published by Thomas Jenner, c. 1630). Immediately to the right side of the fire, Thomas Cranmer is depicted burning his hand.
    License: CC BY-SA 4.0.
    Source: Folger Digital Image Collection

The rotated detail from Henry Holiday’s illustration neither is a “claw” nor a “beak”. I assume that it depicts a fire. And there is a hand in both fires. Carroll and Holiday almost too successfully made sure that the readers of The Hunting of the Snark don’t understand that too early.

2018-05-07, update 2020-09-24