Constructing Carroll

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.

A. Paul Weber, 'The Rumor', 1943/1953So I tried to learn more about Carroll, and of course also run into that pop culture pedophilia discussion surrounding Carroll’s biography. The discussion probably got even worse when the internet provided it with a fertile stage for slander and rumors. Repetition increases perceived truth equally for plausible and implausible statements. Most contributions there tell more about the fantasies and the mindsets of their authors than about Lewis Carroll.

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.

Initially, this page only was about doctored images, which had been infesting the discussion since quite a few years.


It isn’t even a photo of C.L. Dodgson.
(Source of this image:


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. 146, Alice in Transmedia Wonderland, by Anna Kérchy, 2016)

※ The image of the Liddell sisters has been taken from NPG: mw66627.
※ See also (from Alice no país das bobagens … [Alice in the country of nonsense …]).

In both photo collages shown above, an image of Alice Liddell was mounted into another photo. The photos are an example how images of Lewis Carroll have been constructed.

Another example is a collage where the head of Frances Bowlby had been replaced by the head of Alice Liddell and the head of Rev. Robert Salmon had been replaced by the head of C.L. Dodgson, transplanted from his self portrait into the collage.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.”

In the WayBackMachine you can find a copy of the timetravellerblog entry (dated 2007-09-06). I like a comment by “Megan”.


As for C.L. Dodgson’s original photos, there are 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.

Unsurprisingly, some 21th century rules and values still were not known in the 19th century.

(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.)

Face of Lorina Liddell (left, age c.20 years) and face of a girl (right, age c.14 yrs.) from a 18th century photo owned by the Musée Cantini in Marseilles. The complete photo of the girl (with spine and eye issues?) was presented in Martha Kearney‘s BBC documentary The Secret world of Lewis Carroll (2015) as a nude image allegedly of Lorina Liddell. Statements of the photographic conservation specialist Nicholas Burnett and the forensic imagery analyst David Anley were presented in a way which left the impression that they concluded that the photo was authentic and probably of Liddell.

I also recommend to read this comment to the documentary.


Novels which dishonestly exploit the rumors about Lewis Carroll:
※ Mario Cláudio, O fotógrafo e a rapariga, 60 pages, 2015
※ Ghislain Gilberti, Dernière sortie pour wonderland, 485 pages, 2017, critique
※ Gary Bills, A Letter for Alice, 263 pages, 2019

Scientific Literature:
Phyllis Greenacre, Swift and Carroll: A Psychoanalytic Study of Two Lives, 1955


Other Literature:
Anna Kérchy: Alice in Transmedia Wonderland, 2016
Karoline Leach: In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll, 2015
※ Jenny Woolf: The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, 2011
Edward Guilano, James R. Kincaid (editors): Soaring with the DoDo – Essays on Lewis Carroll’s Life and Art, 1992

※ Will Brooker,, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Author Lewis Carroll Wasn’t the Pedophile Pop Culture Made Him Out To Be, 2016
※ Lía Sandra Tapia: ¿Fue Lewis Carroll un pedófilo reprimido?, 2016
Fern Riddell, Curiouser and Curiouser: The Case of Lewis Carroll, 2015
Josh Jones, Lewis Carroll’s Photographs of Alice Liddell…, 2014
※ 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
※ Edward Wakeling: Carroll Photographer, 2003
※ Jenny Woolf, Smithonian Magazine: Lewis Carroll’s Shifting Reputation, 2010
※ Jenny Woolf, The Mystery of Lewis Carroll (essay), 2015
※, 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
※ 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, Jon Solo uses two photoshopped fake photos. However, he would not have included them had he been aware of that..
※ Wikipedia: Victorian morality
Was Lewis Carroll also obsessed with bathing machines?
Related blog entry

2019-07-08, updated 2020-01-16