Thinking is difficult. Therefore, let the herd pronounce judgement.
attributed to C.G. Jung (Flying Saucers, 1959; not “Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”)
I am mainly interested in Henry Holiday’s illustrations (engraved by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s (C. L. Dodgson’s) tragicomedy The Hunting of the Snark. In order to understand the illustrations, I also needed to understand Carroll’s idea behind the poem.
So I tried to learn more about Carroll, and of course also ran into that pop culture pedophilia discussion surrounding Carroll’s biography. As far as I know, the debate started in 1932. Quite a few years later, the internet as our new rabbit hole gave it a big boost and provided the debaters with a fertile stage for slander, gossip and rumors. Repetition increases perceived truth equally for plausible and implausible statements. Most of the toxic contributions (e.g. in Twitter) tell more about the fantasies and the mindsets of their authors than about Lewis Carroll.
The Reverend Dodgson was fighting with “mental troubles“, as he called them himself. These troubles could be religious doubts (e.g. because of Charles Darwin’s findings) and temptations of all kind. As for sexual issues, I think that the evaluation of the available evidence is difficult outside of academia. So it’s difficult to me too. (I am an engineer, not a forensic psychologist.) Nevertheless, perhaps I found some links to decent publications.
It isn’t even a photo of C.L. Dodgson.
(Source of this image: http://studiotreasure.com/alice/April1_explanation.htm)
Another infamous collage infesting the Internet epidemically was made by David O’Kane in 2005, combining elements from
(1) a self portrait by C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll),
(2) CLD’s photo (1860) of the three Liddell sisters,
(3) a photo showing O’Kane’s own features.
(Source: p. 145~148, Alice in Transmedia Wonderland, by Anna Kérchy, 2016)
2020-08-14: Correction (by “Laura”): “The Carroll half of the photo (of Carroll reading) is from a photo taken by Reginald Southey in 1856. (not a self-portrait).”
※ The image of the Liddell sisters has been taken from NPG: mw66627.
※ See also (from casacinepoa.com.br): Alice no país das bobagens … [Alice in the country of nonsense …]).
※ As an example, you find the fake photo being used in artnet.org by Lorena Muñoz-Alonso.
In both photo collages shown above, an image of Alice Liddell was mounted into another photo. The photos are examples which show how images of Lewis Carroll have been constructed.
A further example is a collage where the head of Frances Bowlby had been replaced by the head of Alice Liddell and the head of Rev. Robert Salmon had been replaced by the head of C.L. Dodgson, transplanted from his self portrait into the collage. The head of Alice is from a photo of the three Liddell sisters. (I found the original photo of Salmon and Bowlby in Edward Wakeling’s Carroll Photographer, 2003).
This is a misleading image found in Twitter which looks like a clipping from a newspaper: “London, 18th August 1880 // SOCIETY // Lewis Carroll gives up photography due to paedophilias rumours”. The coloring, the shading in the image and the choice of fonts show that the image cannot be a copy from 1880 print media. In the image, the name “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson” is misspelled as “Charles Lutwigde Dodson”. And the Reverend Dodgson was not a “priest”.
The source “timetravellerblog” is gone. It was a “TimeTraveller Newspaper” with “Gossipings and curiosities from the past”. The blogger probably didn’t mean to mislead people with the image. The blogger’s note: “These articles are just fictional possible articles of the time and they are based on the real events.”
As for C.L. Dodgson’s original photos, there are since the 1870s about 30 nude photos among roughly 2800 photos taken by Dodgson which in an investigation based on 21st century law could serve as evidence against
※ the 19th century photographer and
※ the 19th century parents of the depicted girls and
※ the 19th century chaperones who were present during the photo taking.
(As for the 2800 photos, see page 5 in the Knight Letter № 102 in Chris Morgan’s report about the March 2019 meeting of the LCSNA, where Edward Guiliano spoke about Dodgson’s photography and illustrations.)
In the UK of the 20th century, Dodgson would have been under an investigation as the one based on the 1978 Protection of Children Act and mentioned in the article Portrait of the artist as an accused man by Ian Gale (Independent, 1994-02-15). In our century, the ease of distributing graphic content in the Internet made an even stricter application of rules to protect children necessary.
About an image used in The Secret world of Lewis Carroll
(2015 swanfilms.tv, producer/director: Clare Beavan, executive producers: Neil Cromble and Joe Evans)
The makers of that “documentary” presented by Martha Kearney duped a few contributors, among them Edward Wakeling.
The image of the naked girl was a prominent feature of the programme and its discovery had meant that the nature of the programme had changed significantly from the original commission.
The programme should have gone back to the contributors at an earlier stage to inform them about the new image and to give them adequate time to consider whether they were content with their contributions to the programme.
Ruling of the BBC Trust about “some effort”, quoted in a blog post by The Inquiring Mind, 2018-10-31
The left image shows a side-by-side comparison of the face of Lorina Liddell (left, age c.20 years) and the face of a girl (right, age c.14 yrs.) from a 18th century photo owned by the Musée Cantini in Marseilles. The photo allegedly was taken by Dodgson/Carroll, but according to experts of the Musée Cantini and Carroll expert Edward Wakeling the picture was not taken by Dodgson.
The complete photo of the girl (documenting spine and eye issues?) was presented by Martha Kearney as a nude image allegedly of Lorina Liddell in that attempted documentary, broadcasted by the BBC under the title The Secret world of Lewis Carroll.
In the the right image (screenshot from the “documentary”) you see a cursor which David Anley (who runs a forensic consultant business for image analysis) has moved to exactly the place where the eyes are different while telling that they are same. Actually, it is that part of the eye of the french girl which lets me assume that there is a medical issue. There also seem to be scars in the face. Strangely, Anley didn’t comment on that. You can see yourself that the similarities between the images are less clear than what Anley implies. I wonder why the forensic specialist Anley didn’t consider that the photo might have been taken in France for documentary purposes rather than for pornographic purposes.
Also statements of the photographic conservation specialist Nicholas Burnett were presented in a way which left the impression that he concluded that the photo was authentic and probably of Liddell.
In the BCC documentary it was pretended that they discovered that alleged Lorina photo shortly before the screening.
The BBC found it in the summer, several months before the late January screening, not late in the day, as they say.
Jenny Woolf showed that the BBC broadcasted that lie. BBC used it as an excuse for not having had enough time to check the facts. I recommend to read Jenny Woolf‘s comment (2015-02-04), Louise Marchal‘s comment (2015-03-03) and adamsmith1922’s comment (2018-10-31) to that gossipy documentary, where Martha Kearney presented Martha Kearney ad nauseam.
The historical consultant to the producers of the documentary was Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. In an interview with the Cherwell Archive he said:
I know that a number of people were annoyed by the decision to include the photograph, as there’s no definite proof that it shows Lorina Liddell or that it was taken by Carroll. But (and admittedly I was the programme’s historical consultant), it’s interesting that someone had already attributed it to him. And that probably says more about us as it does about him – it shows how far he has become a lightning conductor for all our fears about childhood and sexuality, and it is worth asking ourselves why. Of course, there are fans of Carroll’s who see such questions as irrelevant muckraking. Perhaps that’s because when we talk about the Alice books we are also talking about ourselves, as these are some of the books we remember most fondly from childhood, and that makes it hard for some readers to hear anything potentially awkward about Carroll without it being experienced as a personal assault.
※ Patrick Foster, telegraph.co.uk, BBC failed to tell experts that Lewis Carroll documentary would include ‘paedophile’ claims, 2015-12-14.
※ Davis Sanderson, thetimes.co.uk, BBC portrayal of Lewis Carroll as abuser ‘a lie’, 2015-06-01.
More from BBC:
Alicia en el país de las maravillas: ¿quién fue Alice Liddell, la niña que inspiró a Lewis Carroll a escribir su famoso libro?
Analía Llorente, BBC News Mundo, 2020-07-04
Exploits of the rumors about Lewis Carroll:
※ Gary Bills, A Letter for Alice, 263 pages, 2019. Bills starts the book with his literally wet fantasies about how C.L. Dodgson might have taken a nude photo “on sale in Paris, for the secret albums of gentlemen” (possibly a reference to a photo owned by the Musée Cantini in Marseilles) allegedly depicting Lorina Liddell. Bills’ pornotextual story might have been inspired by a BBC “documentary” presented by Martha Kearney in 2015 and is one of the filthiest and most dishonest gossip exploits known to me.
※ Ghislain Gilberti, Dernière sortie pour wonderland, 485 pages, 2017, critique.
※ Mario Cláudio, O fotógrafo e a rapariga, 60 pages, 2015.
※ Melanie Benjamin, Alice I Have Been, 2009.Never Seen by Waking Eyes, 2000
※ Grant Morrison & Dave McKean, turnened the Mad Hatter into a pedophile comics character, 1989.
※ noticierostelevisa.esmas.com promotes the book El hombre que amaba a las niñas: Correspondencia y retrato (by Servando Rocha(?), La Felguera Ediciones, 2013) using a doctored photo. There is a prologue by Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Surely, G.K. Chesterton (1874~1936) didn’t write anything to be printed on the bookcover of El hombre que amaba a las niñas as “prologue”.
※ Diane Waggoner, Lewis Carroll’s Photography and Modern Childhood, 2020.
※ Anna Kérchy, Alice in Transmedia Wonderland, 2016.
※ Karoline Leach, In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll, 2015.
※ Robert Douglas-Fairhurst: The Story of Alice, 2015.
※ Stephanie L. Schatz, Lewis Carroll’s Dream-child and Victorian Child Psychopathology, 2015.
※ Jenny Woolf, The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, 2011. (🔊 2006-12-19)
※ Richard Foulkes: Lewis Carroll and the Victorian Stage, 2005
※ Donald Thomas, Lewis Carroll – A Portrait with Background, 1996. (My favorite!)
※ Jackie Wullschlager, Inventing Wonderland – The Lives and Fantasies of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, J.M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame and A.A. Milne, 1996/2001. (A deservedly bad review of Wullschlager’s amateurish Freudian analysis in kirkusreviews.com: “Wullschläger’s semi-psychoanalytic biographies…”)
※ Edward Guilano, James R. Kincaid (editors): Soaring with the DoDo – Essays on Lewis Carroll’s Life and Art, 1992.
※ Derek Hudson, Lewis Carroll – An Illustrated Biography, 2nd. edition 1976.
※ Phyllis Greenacre, Swift and Carroll: A Psychoanalytic Study of Two Lives, 1955.
※ John Howe Jenkins, Cakeless, 1874 (reprinted in Anne Clark, The Real Alice – Lewis Carroll’s Dream Child, 1981)
※ Karoline Leach: Ina in Wonderland (1996-05-03)
※ Karoline Leach: Lewis Carroll’s Friendships with Adult Women (2002)
※ Karoline Leach: Who mutilated Lewis Carroll’s Diaries? (2005)
※ Hugues Lebailly: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s Infatuation with the Weaker and more Aeshetics Sex (2010)
※ Sonia Le Gall, Lewis Carroll – le mystérieux créateur d’Alice au Pays des Merveilles, 2020-05-21
※ Nicola Cameron, Twitter thread 2020-03-07.
※ Alan Beechey, Lewis and me (about manipulated photos), 2015.
※ Will Brooker, hollywoodreporter.com, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Author Lewis Carroll Wasn’t the Pedophile Pop Culture Made Him Out To Be, 2016.
※ Justin Sherin (“Writer. Not Nixon.”), twitter.com, a thread about Dodgson’s photo taking using the wet collodion process
※ Lía Sandra Tapia: ¿Fue Lewis Carroll un pedófilo reprimido?, 2016.
※ Fern Riddell, historytoday.com: Curiouser and Curiouser: The Case of Lewis Carroll, 2015.
※ Josh Jones, openculture.com: Lewis Carroll’s Photographs of Alice Liddell…, 2014.
※ victorian-era.org: Victorian Era Morality Facts
※ Jan Marsh, Victoria and Albert Museum: Sex & Sexuality in the 19th Century, 2013?, ©2016.
※ Steven Mintz: Placing childhood sexual abuse in historical perspective, 2012.
※ Adam Gopnik, New Yorker: Lewis Carroll and the loves of his life, 1995-10-09.
※ Edward Wakeling: Carroll Photographer, 2003.
※ Sadi Ranson: 42 Seconds Under Ground: The Photography of Lewis Carroll, 2004
※ Jenny Woolf, Smithonian Magazine: Lewis Carroll’s Shifting Reputation, 2010.
※ Jenny Woolf, publicdomainreview.org: The Mystery of Lewis Carroll (essay), 2015.
※ louisiem.wordpress.com, comment to the BBC documentary The Secret world of Lewis Carroll, 2015.
※ Emma Hollen, Twitter, “[THREAD] A lot of controversial rumours have been circulated regarding Lewis Carroll’s relationship with Alice Liddell …”, 2019-12-19.
※ Louise Parker, medium.com, Curiouser and Curiouser… According to Research, Lewis Carroll was a Paedophile, 2017-11-08.
Louise Parker ends her article like this: “One last thing you might not have known about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Despite the loss of contact and the abrupt end of a long and intense friendship, Alice Liddell chose to name her third and youngest son Caryl. Now what do you make of that?” Now, what do you make of Louise Parker? It gets worse: That article uses a doctored photo. I asked the author to remove it.
※ Jon Solo, YouTube, The Messed Up Origins of Alice in Wonderland (Pt. 1) | Disney Explained, 2018-11-30.
It’s, as the title says, mainly about Carroll’s Alice novel. At 01m20s and 07m34s of the part 1 video, Jon Solo is using two photoshopped fake photos. He knows (December 2019) that the photos are fake, but they still are used in his video (May 2020). I asked him to remove the photos or the video (Twitter and YouTube). But he fails to correct his mistake.
※ Marion Cazaux: Lewis Caroll (sic!) : photographie, petites filles, et nudité, 2020-04-10
Cazaux’s otherwise interesting article (written in French) started with a fake photo (see also Twitter screenshot). Although the article got a bad start, it is worth reading because the author puts things into their historical context. (2020-04-20: The doctored photo has been removed, but “Caroll” still needs to be replaced by “Carroll”.)
※ Was Lewis Carroll also obsessed with bathing machines?
※ ICD-10-CM F65.4 (ICD-11: 6D32)
※ Blog entry related to this page
Wikipedia (update 2020-06-11):
※ Victorian morality
※ Lewis Carroll – Discussion of Dodgson’s sexual preferences
※ Alice Liddell – Relationship with Lewis Carroll
Guillermo Martínez (update 2020-06-13):
※ GM, The Alice in Wonderland Murders, 2019,
available in Spanish and German;
English translation: hardcover: 978-1408712870, 2021-01-07; softcover: 978-0349144122, 2021-07-01.
Not an exploit of the rumors, but an exploit of the debate about the rumors and the participants in that debate.
James R Kincaid (update 2020-06-14):
※ JK, Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture, 1992
(Reviews: Don Richard Cox, 2016-03-03; Michael Freeman, 1995)
※ JK, Annoying the Victorians, 1994
※ Curtis Rush (The Star), Controversial U.S. professor James Kincaid slams critics who call him an advocate for pedophilia, 2013-10-19
Daniel Ramírez (update 2020-06-15):
※ DR, Lewis Carroll, el hombre que amaba a las niñas (Spanish, length: 1:35:24), YouTube upload: 2019-01-26
Conclusions (at 1:10:36 in the video):
(1) Lewis Carroll expressed his love for girls, not boys.
(2) He was not a pedophile who repressed his love for girls.
(3) He never was violent to any of the numerous girls he met and treated.
(4) He sublimated his sexual tendency through photography and oral and written stories.
Ramírez also corrected some conclusions from the BBC report The Secret world of Lewis Carroll (2015)
I do not think that Ramírez’ presentation is related to the book El hombre que amaba a las niñas: Correspondencia y retrato (published by La Felguera Ediciones, 2013).
I suggest to slightly extend Ramírez’ 4th point:
(4) He sublimated his sexual tendency through photography and oral and written stories as well as through “mental work” like creating and solving mathematical puzzles.
2019-07-08, updated 2020-11-17