I signed up to do the blog for today but didn’t have a single clue what I wanted to write about. Looking for inspiration, I found myself Googling holidays, events, and birthdays happening on January 27th. As I clicked around, I discovered that it was Lewis Carroll’s birthday. Now, I have always loved Alice in Wonderland; it holds a lot of nostalgia for me. I figured that this would be a good chance for us all to learn more about the author that created such a zany world.
Well, the results were curiouser and curiouser.
Lewis Carroll, a pseudonym for Charles Dodgson, came from a big religious family. He was born on January 27 (you knew this already!) in 1832. It was said that Carroll began creative projects at a young age. Carroll began pursuing education, focusing mostly on religion and math. It was expected that Carroll would become a priest, but instead stayed as a deacon. As an adult, Carroll still had many creative outlets. Carroll seemed to dabble in all kinds of art, including writing, puzzle making, and photography including, most concerningly, nude photographs of children.
It has been recorded that Carroll struck legitimate friendships with young children. (There are accounts that state he did this because when around children, his usually constant stutter would disappear.) One of the kids he deeply bonded with was Alice Liddell. Upon spending lots of time with Alice and her young sisters, Carroll wrote what would eventually become Alice in Wonderland. It is known that Carroll wrote it for Alice, who was ten at the time he gave it to her. Carroll finished his life having left many creations, influences, and mysteries. His creative works and religious works are well regarded by many. There are, especially within the last twenty years, many questions about Carroll and his behaviors towards children. Did Carroll ever cross boundaries? Researchers have mixed feelings about this author and his actions.
There is no doubt that Lewis Carroll influenced literature and media in general. Alice in Wonderland-related items are everywhere you go. Many of us, myself included, have fond memories of falling down the rabbit hole. Yet, upon learning about the author, I ponder if I should commend Carroll. Proven or not; there are a lot of behaviors that are bizarre to read about. I found myself wondering what would have happened if, in some alternate reality, Lewis Carroll was around now. Would his actions be permissible? Can we truly separate the artist from the art? Do we want to?
Everyone needs to decide their standards for morality among flawed historical figures. Do you still celebrate them? Honor their birthdays? That’s 100% your choice, but if you’re looking for some Alice substitutes or read-alikes, here’s a list for you:
*Click on any of the titles below to go to the Monarch catalog’s listing of the book. You can read more about the selection and request items for pickup there!
- Heartless by Marissa Meyer
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January By Alix E. Harrow
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making By Catherynne M. Velante
- The Kaleidoscope Sisters By Ronnie K. Stephens
- Caraval By Stephanie Garber
- The Starless Sea By Erin Morgenstern
- The Magician’s Nephew By C.S. Lewis
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman