ISBN : 9780190614546
On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London.
Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image—as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation—as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to "Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid" than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.
Acclaim for Simon Winchester:
"An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity."
—Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review
"A master at telling a complex story compellingly and lucidly."
"Winchester is an exquisite writer and a deft anecdoteur."
"A lyrical writer and an indefatigable researcher."
Chapter One: THE PHOTOGRAPH IN QUESTION
Chapter Two: THE PHOTOGRAPHER-TO-BE
Chapter Three: MATTERS ARISING
Chapter Four: THE RUDE MECHANICALS
Chapter Five: THE FIRST MAKINGS OF ART
Chapter Six: A PORTRAIT MOST PERFECT AND CHASTE
Chapter Seven: AND THEN THE GIRL BECAME A LADY
A note on sources
"Interesting, original and not unidirectional." - Anna Maria Polidori, Al Femminile
"As usual with Winchester, well-founded, witty and perceptive." - Kirkus
"Mr. Winchester's elegantly written study provides a balanced, sympathetic portrait of a complex and gifted man." - Wall Street Journal
"What Winchester offers that is new, largely, is a detailed explanation the nascent field of amateur Victorian photography. He meticulously tracks Dodgson's 1856 purchase of his first mahogany-and-brass folding camera. He carefully works through the history of the development of the camera, and explains the difference between the daguerreotype, the calotype, and the wet-plate collodion that Dodgson relied on." - Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor
"In this very slim volume" - a nice break, for history lovers, from the trend toward doorstop-sized commitments
"Winchester provides a new perspective on the shy bachelor who wrote one of the world's most famous children's stories, while questioning the most recent scholarship that neglects the role of photography in Dodgson's life. An important addition to the burgeoning collection of Dodgson scholarship, this book will appeal to scholars and general readers and is recommended to all." - Library Journal
"With remarkable clarity and eloquence, Winchester uses this photograph as the focal point for an examination of the man behind Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." - Financial Times