Contextualising Carroll

Contextualising Carroll

The contradiction of science and religion
in the life and works of Lewis Carroll

PhD Thesis by
Darien Graham-Smith
University of Wales, Bangor, 2005


This work presents a theory that Lewis Carroll’s life and works were profoundly affected by a conflict between his logical world view and his religious beliefs. Three examinations are presented – the first of convention and logic in Carroll’s life, the second of the nature of his religion and the third of his response to contemporary science. The thesis concludes that Victorian science brought Carroll’s beliefs into contradiction, causing him to experience religious and existential doubts. It is suggested that an understanding of these doubts can inform an understanding of Carroll’s relationships with Alice Liddell and other young girls, and indeed has repercussions for his entire life and works beyond the scope of this thesis.

Two brief appendices expand upon issues mentioned in the text: the first considers the artefacts at Ripon Cathedral which are supposed by some to have influenced Carroll; and the second discusses Effie’s Dream-Garden, a children’s book which bears some resemblance to the Alice story but which was published several years before that story was first told.


   3  Summary
   4  Contents
   7  Acknowledgements
   8  Author’s Declarations
   9  Definitions

  10  Chapter 1: Introduction
  23  Chapter 2: Convention
  46  Chapter 3: Religion
  64  Chapter 4: Science
  88  Chapter 5: Darwin and the Dodo
 114  Chapter 6: Dreams and Doubts
 135  Chapter 7: Conclusion

 139  Appendix A: Ripon Cathedral
 142  Appendix B: Effie’s Dream Garden
 147  Works cited

Amazon (Kindle): B010Y2T5GS


If you want to use Darien Graham-Smith’ thesis for your own research, I recommend to discuss it with the author and with Simon Davison, the maker of the British 2023 Snark film.

2024-06-02, update: 2024-06-11

Consent Management Platform by Real Cookie Banner