The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created "Alice in Wonderland"

Overview

In The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, Jenny Woolf brings to life the brilliant, secretive, and self-contradictory creator of Alice in Wonderland, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll. Reveling in double meanings and puzzles, in his fiction and his life, Carroll always—at least in part—seemed hidden, unknowable. Woolf uses rarely-seen and recently discovered sources like Carroll's private bank account records, letters from the family of the "real" Alice Liddell and unpublished ...

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The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created

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Overview

In The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, Jenny Woolf brings to life the brilliant, secretive, and self-contradictory creator of Alice in Wonderland, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll. Reveling in double meanings and puzzles, in his fiction and his life, Carroll always—at least in part—seemed hidden, unknowable. Woolf uses rarely-seen and recently discovered sources like Carroll's private bank account records, letters from the family of the "real" Alice Liddell and unpublished correspondence with Carroll's own relatives.  In shining new light upon Carroll, Woolf sets this perennially fascinating man firmly in the context of the English Victorian age and tackles many of the questions that have persisted throughout the years.  
- Was it Alice or her older sister that caused a coolness between Carroll and the Liddell family?
- How true is the gossip both about about pedophilia and certain adult women that became attached to him?
- What could be the “romantic secret” which many think ruined Carroll's personal life?
- Who caused Carroll major financial trouble, and why have this person's identity and actions remained unknown till now? 
Woolf discards the myths and lets us see Carroll as he truly was: a brilliant product of the Victorian Age, and a genius whose famous stories continue to fascinate readers almost 150 years after their initial publication.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Goes beyond the central controversy over his life to shed light on a man who has proved elusive to his biographers."
--Wall Street Journal

"Engaging...Woolf writes with affection as well as admiration for the man revealed by her research."
--Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World

Michael Dirda
Jenny Woolf's engaging biography…eschews the minutiae and factual richness of [Morton N.] Cohen's magisterial biography of 1995. Her aim is to present a convincing portrait, and she writes with affection as well as admiration for the man revealed by her research.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312673710
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 963,972
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

JENNY WOOLF is a London based journalist. She has written for the BBC, The Sunday Times (UK), Smithsonian, Reader’s Digest, and Islands and has reviewed children’s literature for Punch. She is author of Lewis Carroll in His Own Account.  She is married with two children. 

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi

Foreword Edward Wakeling ix

A Personal Introduction 1

1 'My Father and Mother were honest though poor...': Family 11

2 'You can do arithmetic, I trust?': Oxford Life 39

3 'Nose in the Middle, Mouth Under': The Human Body 67

4 'This Strange Wild Man from Other Lands': Love and Sex 95

5 'Children Are Three-Fourths of my Life': Children 127

6 'Child of the Pure Unclouded Brow': Alice 153

7 'That Awful Mystery': Religion and the Supernatural 181

8 'And Would You Be a Poet?': Literature and Storytelling 213

9 '...took the Camera of Rosewood': Photography 239

10 'He Offered Large Discount, he Offered a Cheque': Money 265

A Personal Conclusion 289

Appendix: Report of Dr Yvonne Hart on Carroll's neurological symptoms 298

Select Bibliography 300

Notes 303

Index 318

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 19, 2010

    Enlightening and easy to read

    Lewis Carroll was a strange guy, indeed a mystery. I hoped this book would cast some more light. It did not answer all my questions but I felt I knew Lewis carroll better at the end of it. It was an easy read despite all the research that has obviously gone into it. A welcome addition to my bookshelves.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2010

    Consistently interesting

    This book interested me consistently. I think the book matched the title. It seemed almost like reading a mystery novel as more and more of Lewis Caroll's personality got uncovered. I wish it had told what really happened in his love life but of course the author had to stick to the facts. Maybe it is just as well to stick to the facts. Lewis has suffered for too long with people pinning their own feelings on him. I recommend this book as the best account of him that I have read so far as it brings him to life

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  • Posted June 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I'd Like to Know The Mystery In How Bad This Book Was

    I should feel bad for all the times I've complained about biographies before this one, bcause this one takes the cake as the possibly the world's most incoherent biography. I can't thnk of anyone who could benefit from reading this book. Its bad for research, bad for fun reading...About the only thing I thouroughly enjoyed were the pictures inside and even then, I'm angry that I paid so much for just a handful of photos.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    The Mystery of Lewis Carroll by Jenny Woolf

    I simply adore Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and both Disney films that come from it. However, I never knew much about Charles Dodgson, save that some people insisted that the man was a pedophile (a theory with which I vehemently disagreed).
    I stumbled upon this book in Barnes and Noble over Spring Break, and I just had to buy it. I must confess, I do not make a habit of reading biographies, nor have I ever really delved into the life of "Lewis Carroll." Even so, it was clear--even to an uneducated biography reader like myself--that the author knew what she was talking about. She had thoroughly researched her topic, using every available source to find out all that she could about the man. She refuted many myths, and made a few speculations of her own. I could tell that she greatly admired Dodgson, and that she made a real effort to be truthful and honest in her investigations. I greatly enjoyed this biography, and I learned so much about both Dodgson and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I recommend it to anyone who loves the Alice books, or simply enjoys reading biographies.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 11, 2012

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    Posted August 20, 2010

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    Posted April 13, 2010

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    Posted September 6, 2011

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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