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Lewis Carroll Biography and Poems

Lewis Carroll Biography and Poems. This is biographical information on Lewis Carroll, one of the best poets of all time. This biography page also provides a link to poems written by Carroll, as well as, a video biography...if available.

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Carroll, Lewis

Biography | Poems (73)
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An English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman, and photographer.. English author mathematician logician Anglican deacon and photographer


The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (January 27, 1832–January 14, 1898), better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman, and photographer.

His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass as well as the poems "The Hunting of the Snark" and "Jabberwocky".

His facility at word play, logic, and fantasy has delighted audiences ranging from children to the literary elite. But beyond this, his work has become embedded deeply in modern human culture. He has directly influenced artists as diverse as James Joyce, John Lennon, Jefferson Airplane, Aceyalone, Marilyn Manson and Jorge Luis Borges.

There are societies dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of his works and the investigation of his life in many parts of the world including North America, Japan, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

His biography has recently come under much question as a result of what has come to be termed the "Carroll Myth"

Early life

Dodgson's family was predominantly northern English, with some Irish connections. Conservative and High Church Anglican, most of Dodgson's ancestors were army officers or Church of England clergymen. His great-grandfather, also Charles Dodgson, had risen through the ranks of the church to become a bishop; his grandfather, another Charles, had been an army captain, killed in action in 1803 when his two sons were hardly more than babies.

The elder of these sons — yet another Charles — was Carroll's father. He reverted to the other family business and took holy orders. He went to Rugby School, and thence to Christ Church, Oxford. He was mathematically gifted and won a double first degree which could have been the prelude to a brilliant academic career. Instead he married his first cousin in 1827 and retired into obscurity as a country parson.

Young Charles' father was an active and highly conservative member of the Anglican church who involved himself, sometimes influentially, in the intense religious disputes that were dividing the Anglican church. He was High Church, inclining to Anglo-Catholicism, an admirer of Newman and the Tractarian movement, and he did his best to instill such views in his children. Young Charles, however, was to develop an ambiguous relationship with his father's values and with the Anglican church as a whole.

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Young Charles

Young Dodgson was born in the little parsonage of Daresbury in Warrington, Cheshire, the oldest boy but already the third child of the four-and-a-half year old marriage. Eight more were to follow and, remarkably for the time, all of them—seven girls and four boys— survived into adulthood. When Charles was 11, his father was given the living of Croft-on-Tees in north Yorkshire, and the whole family moved to the spacious Rectory. This remained their home for the next twenty-five years.

In his early years, young Dodgson was educated at home. His "reading lists" preserved in the family testify to a precocious intellect: at the age of seven the child was reading The Pilgrim's Progress. He also suffered from a stutter — a condition shared by his siblings — that often influenced his social life throughout his years. At twelve he was sent away to a small private school at nearby Richmond, where he appears to have been happy and settled. But in 1845, young Dodgson moved on to Rugby School, where he was evidently less happy, for as he wrote some years after leaving the place:

I cannot say ... that any earthly considerations would induce me to go through my three years again ... I can honestly say that if I could have been ... secure from annoyance at night, the hardships of the daily life would have been comparative trifles to bear. [1]

The nature of this nocturnal "annoyance" will probably never now be fully understood, but it may be that he is delicately referring to some type of sexual molestation. Scholastically, though, he excelled with apparent ease. "I have not had a more promising boy his age since I came to Rugby" observed R.B. Mayor, the Mathematics master.[2]

 

Oxford

He left Rugby at the end of 1850 and, after an interval which remains unexplained, went on in January 1851 to Oxford, attending his father's old college, Christ Church. He had only been at Oxford two days when he received a summons home. His mother had died of "inflammation of the brain" — perhaps meningitis or a stroke — at the age of forty-seven.

His early academic career veered between high-octane promise and irresistible distraction. He may not always have worked hard, but he was exceptionally gifted and achievement came easily to him. In 1852 he received a first in Honour Moderations, and shortly after he was nominated to a Studentship, by his father's old friend Canon Edward Pusey. However, a little later he failed an important scholarship through his self-confessed inability to apply himself to study. Even so, his talent as a mathematician won him the Christ Church Mathematical Lectureship, which he continued to hold for the next twenty-six years. The income was good, but the work bored him. Many of his pupils were older and richer than he was, and almost all of them were uninterested. However, despite early unhappiness, Dodgson was to remain at Christ Church, in various capacities, until his death.

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