How much math did Lewis Carroll know

Well-known people and personalities from Northern England: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (01/27/1832 - 01/14/1898) is better known to us under the name Lewis Carroll and therefore above all as the author of well-known works such as Alice In Wonderland and Alice Behind the Mirrors, Jabberwocky, etc. But Dodgson could confidently be a multi-talent describe. He probably had a natural talent for mathematics and logic, he made a name for himself as a photographer, developed games and logelias, was an inventor, teacher and even an Anglican deacon (but without having received ordinations).

Brief outline of the life of Charles Dodgson

Dodgson was born on January 27th, 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire. When Dodgson was 11 years old, the family moved to Croft-On-Tees in North Yorkshire, where Charles lived from 1843 to 1850. Dodgson was homeschooled at a young age, entering Richmond Grammar School at the age of 12, and barely a year later he had to switch to private rugby school. Even if Dodgson didn't like the move to rugby very much, he was able to shine there with extremely good academic performance. Especially in the field of mathematics, Dodgson is said to have been one of the best students of his time.

In 1849 Dodgson left rugby private school. Interestingly, the following two years are not occupied, although his life has been extensively researched by some Carroll societies. His access to Christ Church College in Oxford is only documented again in 1851. The entry into Oxford was not exactly ideal, because Dodgson received news of his mother's death there after a few days.

Dodgson also proved to be immensely talented at Oxford, but he was also seen as a little flighty. At least he knew exactly that he didn't have to work much for his studies and he probably made full use of that. Apparently his zeal was easily enough, because in 1852 he received an honorary diploma and shortly afterwards a scholarship in mathematics. He is said to have failed an important test, on the other hand, because of his extraordinary mathematical talent, he received a teaching post from the Christ Church Mathematical Lectureship, which he kept for the next 26 years. Even if Dodgson repeatedly described his life and work in Oxford as somewhat boring, he remained loyal to Christ Church practically until his death in various functions.

Dodgson died on January 14, 1898, at his sister's home in Guildford, of complications from pneumonia. His grave is in Mount Cemetery, Guildford.

Controversial theories about Dodgon's life

Dodgson's life and work was and is being researched very intensively from many sides. This posthumous exploration of his life gave rise to various controversial theories. He was called a pedophile by researchers because of his photographs of naked children. Dodgson was also assumed to have written fantastic literature like Alice in Wonderland only under the influence of drugs. However, the authors of these theories failed to provide any real evidence.

The writer Dodgson

Dodgson was active as a writer from a young age and wrote poems and short stories, which he z. B. wrote from 1855 to 1862 for the family magazine Mischmasch. He submitted some of the stories to publishers, but had little success. During this phase he also published his first work under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The pseudonym was chosen deliberately by him. Lewis is the English form of the Latin Ludovicus, which in turn corresponded to his second name Lutwidge. Carroll in turn corresponds roughly to the Latin Carolus, which in turn is the ancestral form of the English name Charles.

The world's most famous works as Lewis Carroll are likely to be the stories of Alice in Wonderland. The idea for the story is said to have come to him as early as the early 1860s. He is said to have been inspired by the daughter of the then rector of Christ Church, Alice Lidell. He is said to have told her the story around 1862 and she wanted him to write the story. It was not until the end of 1864 that Dodgson presented her with the manuscript of the story Alice's Adventures Under Ground. Before that, he gave his friend and mentor George MacDonald and his family a rough version of the story to read. MacDonald’s children were so excited that Dodgson was encouraged to get the story out. Dodgson contacted the publisher Macmillan, who was enthusiastic about the idea. After discarding some alternative titles such as Alice Among the Fairies and Alice's Golden Hour, the work was first published in 1865 as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland under Dodgson's pseudonym Lewis Carroll with illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.

The publication was a gigantic success that would have a major impact on Dodgson's life. His pseudonym Carroll became world famous. Queen Victoria is also said to have been one of Carroll's ardent admirers. But the story after which Victoria asked him to dedicate the next work to her is not true. Dodgson himself made it clear several times that this story is not true. Later studies also came to the conclusion that there is nothing to this story. But it is always beautiful ...

The sequel to the first Alice book was published in 1871 under the title Through the Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There. Experts rate this work as much darker, which supposedly had to do with the depressed mood of Dodgson after the death of his father in 1868.

In 1876, The Hunting of the Snark was the last of Carroll's great classic works. It showed the other side of Dodgson as a writer of fantastic nonsense poems, a skill which he also demonstrated with the legendary poem Jabberwocky (for which reference is made to the ingenious German version Der Zipferlake by Christian Enzensberger). After the gigantic success with the Alice books, however, Carroll could not present anything comparable, his last great works Sylvie And Bruno and Sylvie And Bruno Concluded sold very poorly in direct comparison.

Dodgson as a photographer

Dodgson seemed to turn increasingly to photography, especially from 1856 under the influence of his uncle Skeffington Lutwidge and later his friend Reginald Southey. This art was still relatively new at the time and here, too, Dodgson seemed to build a good reputation relatively quickly. Allegedly, he is said to have even toyed with the idea of ​​making a living as a photographer.

Around 1880 Dodgson stopped taking photos relatively abruptly. At the time he seemed to be working on a comparatively professional level with the studio and reportedly had made around 3000 recordings (which was a lot given the technology at the time). Today only about 1000 of these pictures are known. Dodgson was of the opinion that sooner or later he would no longer be able to keep up with other photographers and their studio equipment.

Photography led to one of the great controversies surrounding Dodgson. Dodgson also photographed young girls naked or in erotic poses. These recordings took place in the garden of the Rector of Christ Church with the participation of the parents of the children shown. These images presumably only made up a very small part of his photographic work. Regardless, some researchers concluded that Dodgson may have had pedophile tendencies as a result of the recordings. A serious claim, especially since this type of photography was not uncommon at the time and no proof of the thesis has yet been presented.

Dodgson as an inventor

Dodgson is said to have developed the so-called Wonderland Postage Stamp Case in 1889 especially for prolific writers. It is a kind of folder for documents, which was provided with twelve small compartments. These were used to accommodate the postage stamps customary at the time.

The Nyctograph writing board is also attributed to Dodgson. It is a small board with cut-out squares and a system of symbols to match, which should enable writing in the dark. It is probably a kind of shorthand.

In addition, Dodgson has also developed a number of games, mainly word games and forerunners z. B. the well-known Scrabble.

Works (selection)

As a writer

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice In Wonderland) 1865
  • Phantasmagoria and Other Poems 1869
  • Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (Alice Hinter Den Spiegeln) 1871
  • Fame's Penny Trumpet 1876
  • The Hunting of the Snark. An agony in eight convulsions. 1876
  • Jabberwocky 1881
  • Dreamland 1882
  • Rhyme? And Reason? 1883
  • Christmas Greetings 1884
  • Alice's Adventures under Ground 1886
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; and through the Looking-Glass 1887
  • Sylvie and Bruno 1889
  • The Nursery "Alice" 1890
  • Sylvie and Bruno Concluded 1893
  • Three Sunsets and Other Poems 1898

Games, puzzles

  • Rules for Court Circular 1860
  • Croquêt Castles 1863
  • Castle-Croquet 1866
  • A charade 1878
  • Word Links 1878
  • Doublets 1879 and 1880.
  • Lanrick 1881
  • Mishmash 1882
  • Lawn Tennes Tournaments 1883
  • Circular Billiards for Two Players 1890
  • Syzygies and Lanrick 1893

In addition, Dodgson wrote countless mathematical textbooks and treatises under his real name, as well as writings on questions relating to Oxford University Administration. His early works for family magazines, diaries and an allegedly lost chapter on Alice behind the mirrors were also published posthumously.