Happy birthday to the man who created a whimsical Wonderland of words that still enchants all ages to this day! Lewis Carroll was born on January 27, 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire, England under his given name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. This mathematician, deacon and photographer was the first son of 11 children, and spent much of his childhood making up stories for his brothers and sisters.
A master of the fantastic and of quirky word-play, his most famous writings include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass. He’s also well-known for his poems “The Hunting of the Snark”, “Jabberwocky” and more.
Carroll was about six feet tall and slender, with curling brown hair and light-colored eyes. He (and most of his siblings) struggled with stammering. It’s said that telling his tales to children allowed him to speak more clearly and to work through the speech problem. His health problems didn’t end there, though – over time he developed a stiff and awkward gait, weak lungs, and deafness in one ear. He was also known to have migraines with colorful auras – perhaps explaining some of the shifts and imagery in his most famous work, Alice in Wonderland.
So how did Carroll’s most beloved piece come to be? Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (published for the world in 1865) was originally intended for Alice Liddell, the 4-year-old daughter of the dean of Christ Church. Carroll loved to create stories and adventures for Alice and her sisters. While on a picnic with the Liddell girls on July 4, 1862, he spun the story of a girl who fell into a rabbit hole. Alice asked him to write it down, and presented her a handwritten, personally illustrated version on Christmas in 1864. The first working title was Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. He received such a great response from this first version, that he revised it and produced the wonderful tale we all know today.