English author of the children's classics Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872). Among later works was the mock-heroic narrative poem The Hunting of the Snark (1876). He was a lecturer in mathematics at Oxford University from 1855 until 1881 and also published mathematical works.
Dodgson first told his fantasy stories to Alice Liddell and her sisters, daughters of the dean of Christ Church, Oxford University. His two Alice books brought ‘nonsense’ literature to a peak of excellence, and continue to be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Dodgson was a prolific letter writer and one of the pioneers of portrait photography (his sitters included John Ruskin, Alfred Tennyson, and D G Rossetti, as well as children). He was also responsible, in his publication of mathematical games and problems requiring the use of logic, for a general upsurge of interest in such pastimes. He is said to be, after Shakespeare, the most quoted writer in the English language.
Dodgson was born in Daresbury, Cheshire, and studied mathematics and classics at Oxford. He was ordained a deacon in 1861. In 1867 he visited Russia.
Fiction Dodgson was fascinated by the limits and paradoxes of language and thought, the exploration of which leads to the apparent nonsense of Alice's adventures. The reasons for the success of the two Alice books include the illustrations of John Tenniel, the eminently quotable verse, and the combination of exciting adventures, imaginative punning, and humorous characters, such as the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and White Knight, with a more sophisticated level of ingenious imagination which parodies everything from mathematical to literary theories.
His other major works of fiction, Sylvie and Bruno (1889), which combined a children's story with religious instruction, and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), were less successful.
Number games and mathematical works Interested in the use of number games that called for general intelligence to solve the problems, rather than specialized knowledge, he saw their potential as teaching aids. His books in this field include A Tangled Tale (1885), The Game of Logic (1886), and Pillow Problems (1893). The chessboard featured in some of these games. Several of his books of puzzles suggest an awareness of the theory of sets – the basis on which most modern mathematical teaching is founded – which was then only just being formulated by German mathematician Georg Cantor.
Dodgson also wrote mathematical textbooks for the general syllabus, quite a few books on historical mathematics (particularly on Euclid and his geometry), and a number of specialized papers, such as ‘Condensation of Determinants’ (1866).
Carroll, Lewis: ‘Jabberwocky’
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge
Hunting of the Snark – An Agony in Eight Fits, The
Lewis Carroll Home Page
Sylvie and Bruno
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
‘The Hunting of the Snark’
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