Was Lewis Carroll A Pedophile?

By | September 20, 2019

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English mathematician, writer and photographer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898) with Mrs George Macdonald and four children relaxing in a garden. Source: (Photo by Lewis Carroll/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Many people recognize the name Lewis Carroll as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871). Some people may also know Lewis Carroll was actually a pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who in addition to being an author was a mathematician and photographer. What most of them don’t know is these famous works were inspired by a real girl named Alice and Dodgson’s relationship with her, as well as other young girls, have led many academics to label him a pedophile.

Dodgson was born on January 27, 1832, in Daresbury, Chesire, England to Charles and Frances Dodgson. The couple had eleven children, of which Dodgson was the third and the eldest son. Having so many younger siblings may be one of the reasons he became so adept at entertaining children. In fact, he was known to entertain his siblings by telling them stories and making up games to play with them. He attended Rugby School from 1846 to 1850 but was unhappy due to being introverted and was often subjected to bullying. He was also often sick and one illness left him deaf in one ear. He went on to attend the College of Christ Church at Oxford, where he received a studentship, gained an appointment as a mathematics lecturer, and lived until his death in 1898.

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Christ Church College at Oxford University. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

As per the rules of his studentship, Dodgson remained unmarried and was ordained a deacon in 1861. With no children of his own, he became an honorary uncle to his friends’ children, often telling them stories or taking them on short trips. Dodgson was known to have a stutter and it is believed this led to him feeling more comfortable conversing with children rather than adults. In 1855, Henry and Lorina Liddell arrived at Christ Church along with their children, Harry, Lorina (Ina), Alice, and Edith. Dodgson became friends with nine-year-old Harry first, but it was Alice who would inspire his most famous writing.