The real Alice

Alice Liddell at 18 below (H/T Mrs ktc). She was Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This is the last photograph he took of her.

There is a story that her parents disapproved of him because he was too old to be taking an interest in her. But another theory is that he was really interested in her older sister Lorina and the parents thought he was not good enough socially.

Lewis Carroll was a mathematician under his real name. And a good one.




16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by some random guy on July 3, 2016 at 2:47 am

    She has that look that teenage girls use when they’re not getting their way. My own daughter pulled that look a couple times. Cute girl though, a real 19th century hottie.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on July 3, 2016 at 10:28 am

      It may have had a bit to do with a technical need to stay immobile while the photograph was taken.


      • Posted by some random guy on July 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm

        Come on. Women love to pose. It’s in their nature to be the center of attention.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on July 3, 2016 at 1:50 pm

        Lewis Carroll was working in the early days of photography so her poker face might have been required by the early process he used.

        Also Carroll is credited with coming up with how to pose subjects. Photographers of women presumably tell them what they want in the way of posture and expression.

        But yes, girls do seem to be born with the desire to be viewed and admired.

    • It was before the Dread Reign of the Photographic Smile. There is a glorious period in the late 19th century and the early 20th century when Victorians and Edwardians knew cameras took pictures, and posed for the pictures, but felt no need to grimace their mouths in an upward manner to give a caricature image of happiness.

      We went to an old house built in late Victorian times in the countryside last year and there were photographs of the original owners on the wall of one of the rooms. You could pinpoint the period when smiles became en vogue – it was quite alarming – the pictures went from the the un-emotive comfortable scowl in one picture to the grimace-grin in another: and it was all downhill (in an uphill manner) from then on.


  2. He was apparently an incredibly boring lecturer though (which is surprising but true).

    “Some of his students thought he was the most boring teacher they’d ever had.”


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on July 3, 2016 at 8:58 am

      I hadn’t realised what a good mathematician he was until recently:


    • Posted by Glengarry on July 9, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      I seem to recall Kingsley Amis and Phillip Larkin mocked their old lecturer JRR Tolkien´for similar faults in their correspondence.

      Ahah, here is more. Possibly transplanted from a foreword to Lucky Jim.

      At Oxford in the nineteen-forties, Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was generally considered the most boring lecturer around, teaching the most boring subject known to man, Anglo-Saxon philology and literature, in the most boring way imaginable. “Incoherent and often inaudible” was Kingsley Amis’s verdict on his teacher. Tolkien, he reported, would write long lists of words on the blackboard, obscuring them with his body as he droned on, then would absent-mindedly erase them without turning around. “I can just about stand learning the filthy lingo it’s written in,” Philip Larkin, another Tolkien student, complained about the old man’s lectures on “Beowulf.” “What gets me down is being expected to admire the bloody stuff.”


      • Yes, and John Betjeman made fun of C S Lewis for much the same thing (though Lewis could be a brilliant off-the-cuff speaker).

        What an opportunity, though – to learn old Anglo-Saxon. It wouldn’t be half as boring as they made it sound.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on July 10, 2016 at 4:20 am

        Lewis and Betjeman did not like one another. Betjeman took the piss too much. He wore some funny slippers to a tutorial and asked Lewis if he minded. Lewis said he didn’t mind if Betjeman wore them. (Implying that he wouldn’t be caught dead in them himself.)

        I think it was perhaps AN Wilson who suggested that Lewis was jealous of Betjeman because the latter had a genuine poetic gift.

  3. Posted by Julian O'Dea on July 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    This is strange. Lorina was Alice’s older sister. I have a feeling there is some untold story.

    This is interesting, although the website looks a bit kinky to me (NSFW):


  4. Posted by Zeta on July 3, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Was she any relation to the “Liddell” of the Liddell-Scott Greek-English lexicon?


  5. Posted by Zeta on July 4, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Spent many an hour pouring through that tome. Thank God you can get a digital version of it.


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