Letters of Lewis Carroll

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Surely, if you go to morning parties in evening dress (which you do, you know), why not to evening parties in morning dress?

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (27 January 183214 January 1898) was a British author, mathematician, Anglican clergyman, logician, and amateur photographer, more famous under the pen name Lewis Carroll. He wrote many thousands of letters during his lifetime.

See also[edit]

The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll by Stuart Dodgson Collingwood (1898)[edit]

  • The greatest blow that has ever fallen on my life was the death, nearly thirty years ago, of my own dear father; so, in offering you my sincere sympathy, I write as a fellow-sufferer. And I rejoice to know that we are not only fellow-sufferers, but also fellow-believers in the blessed hope of the resurrection from the dead, which makes such a parting holy and beautiful, instead of being merely a blank despair.
    • Undated letter, p.131 (It was to Gertrude Thomson, 18 May 1895)
  • That text is consecrated for me by the memory of one of the greatest sorrows I have known — the death of my dear father. In those solemn days, when we used to steal, one by one, into the darkened room, to take yet another look at the dear calm face, and to pray for strength, the one feature in the room that I remember was a framed text, illuminated by one of my sisters, "Then are they glad, because they are at rest ; and so he bringeth them into the haven where they would be!" That text will always have, for me, a sadness and a sweetness of its own. Thank you again for sending it me. Please don't mention this when we meet. I can't talk about it.
    • Undated letter to Edith Rix, p.132
  • My dear Ada, - (Isn't that your short name? "Adelaide" is all very well, but you see when one's dreadfully busy one hasn't time to write such long words - particularly when it takes one half an hour to remember how to spell it - and even then one has to go and get a dictionary to see if one has spelt it right, and of course the dictionary is in another room, at the top of a high bookcase - where it has been for months and months, and has got all covered with dust - so one has to get a duster first of all, and nearly choke oneself in dusting it - and when one has made out at last which is dictionary and which is dust, even then there's the job of remembering which end of the alphabet "A" comes - for one feels pretty certain it isn't in the middle - then one has to go and wash one's hands before turning over the leaves - for they've got so thick with dust one hardly knows them by sight - and, as likely as not, the soap is lost, and the jug is empty, and there's no towel, and one has to spend hours and hours in finding things - and perhaps after all one has to go off to the shop to buy a new cake of soap -so, with all this bother, I hope you won't mind my writing it short and saying, "My dear Ada").
    • Letter to Adelaide Paine, 8 March 1880, pp.375-6
  • I am writing this to wish you many and many a happy return of your birthday to-morrow. I will drink your health, if only I can remember, and if you don't mind - but perhaps you object? You see, if I were to sit by you at breakfast, and to drink your tea, you wouldn't like that, would you? You would say "Boo! hoo! Here's Mr. Dodgson's drunk all my tea, and I haven't got any left!" So I am very much afraid, next time Sybil looks for you, she'll find you sitting by the sad sea-wave, and crying "Boo! hoo! Here's Mr. Dodgson has drunk my health, and I haven't got any left!" And how it will puzzle Dr. Maund, when he is sent for to see you! "My dear Madam, I'm very sorry to say your little girl has got no health at all! I never saw such a thing in my life!" "Oh, I can easily explain it!" your mother will say. "You see she would go and make friends with a strange gentleman, and yesterday he drank her health!" "Well, Mrs. Chataway," he will say, "the only way to cure her is to wait till his next birthday, and then for her to drink his health."

    And then we shall have changed healths. I wonder how you'll like mine! Oh, Gertrude, I wish you wouldn't talk such nonsense!

    • Letter to Gertrude Chataway (13 Oct 1875), p.381
  • This really will not do, you know, sending one more kiss every time by post: the parcel gets so heavy it is quite expensive. When the postman brought in the last letter, he looked quite grave. "Two pounds to pay, sir!" he said. "Extra weight, sir!" (I think he cheats a little, by the way. He often makes me pay two pounds, when I think it should be pence). "Oh, if you please, Mr. Postman!" I said, going down gracefully on one knee (I wish you could see me go down on one knee to a postman - it's a very pretty sight), "do excuse me just this once! It's only from a little girl!"

    "Only from a little girl!" he growled. "What are little girls made of?" "Sugar and spice," I began to say, "and all that's ni-" but he interrupted me. "No! I don't mean that. I mean, what's the good of little girls, when they send such heavy letters?" "Well, they're not much good, certainly," I said, rather sadly.

    "Mind you don't get any more such letters," he said, "at least, not from that particular little girl. I know her well, and she's a regular bad one!" That's not true, is it? I don't believe he ever saw you, and you're not a bad one, are you? However, I promised him we would send each other very few more letters - "Only two thousand four hundred and seventy, or so," I said. "Oh!" he said, "a little number like that doesn't signify. What I meant is, you mustn't send many."

    So you see we must keep count now, and when we get to two thousand four hundred and seventy, we mustn't write any more, unless the postman gives us leave.

    • Letter to Gertrude Chataway (9 Dec 1875), pp.381-2
  • Most things, you know, ought to be studied: even a trunk is studded with nails.
    • Letter to Gertrude Chataway (13 Apr 1878), p.384
  • How far is it from Winckfield to Rotherwick? Now do not deceive me, you wretched child! If it is more than a hundred miles, I can't come to see you, and there is no use to talk about it. If it is less, the next question is, How much less? These are serious questions, and you must be as serious as a judge in answering them. There mustn't be a smile in your pen, or a wink in your ink (perhaps you'll say, "There can't be a wink in ink: but there may be ink in a wink" - but this is trifling; you mustn't make jokes like that when I tell you to be serious) while you write to Guildford and answer these two questions. You might as well tell me at the same time whether you are still living at Rotherwick - and whether you are at home - and whether you get my letter - and whether you're still a child, or a grown-up person--and whether you're going to the seaside next summer - and anything else (except the alphabet and the multiplication table) that you happen to know.
    • Letter to Gertrude Chataway (13 Apr 1878), pp.384-5
  • I have been awfully busy, and I've had to write heaps of letters - wheelbarrows full, almost. And it tires me so that generally I go to bed again the next minute after I get up; and sometimes I go to bed again a minute before I get up! Did you ever hear of any one being so tired as that?
    • Letter to E. — [Edith Blakemore] (30 Nov 1879), p.392

The Lewis Carroll Picture Book by Stuart Dodgson Collingwood (1899)[edit]

  • My one pupil has begun his work with me, and I will give you a description how the lecture is conducted. It is the most important point, you know, that the tutor should be dignified and at a distance from the pupil, and that the pupil should be as much as possible degraded. Otherwise, you know, they are not humble enough. So I sit at the further end of the room; outside the door (which is shut) sits the scout; outside the outer door (also shut) sits the sub-scout: half-way downstairs sits the sub-sub-scout; and down in the yard sits the pupil. The questions are shouted from one to the other, and the answers come back in the same way - it is rather confusing till you are well used to it. The lecture goes on something like this:

    Tutor. What is twice three?
    Scout. What's a rice tree?
    Sub-Scout. When is ice free?
    Sub-sub-Scout. What's a nice fee?
    Pupil (timidly). Half a guinea!
    Sub-sub-Scout. Can't forge any!
    Sub-Scout. Ho for Jinny!
    Scout. Don't be a ninny!

    Tutor (looks offended, but tries another question). Divide a hundred by twelve!
    Scout. Provide wonderful bells!
    Sub-Scout. Go ride under it yourself!
    Sub-sub-Scout. Deride the dunder-headed elf!
    Pupil (surprised). Who do you mean?
    Sub-sub-Scout. Doings between!
    Sub-Scout. Blue is the screen!
    Scout. Soup-tureen!

    And so the lecture proceeds.

    • Letter to Henrietta and Edwin Dodgson, 31 Jan 1855; pp.198-9
  • Surely, if you go to morning parties in evening dress (which you do, you know), why not to evening parties in morning dress? ... doctors (not that I am a real one only an amateur) must always be in trim for an instant summons to a patient. And when you invite a doctor to dinner (say), do you not always add 'Morning Dress'? (I grant you it is done by initials in this case. And perhaps you will say you don't understand M.D. to stand for 'Morning Dress'? Then take a few lessons in elementary spelling.) Aye, and many and many a time have I received invitations to evening parties wherein the actual colours of the Morning Dress expected were stated! For instance, 'Red Scarf: Vest, Pink.' That is a very common form, though it is usually (I grant you) expressed by initials. ... You will say "What morning parties do I go to in evening dress?" I reply "Balls". You will say again, "What balls ever go on in the morning?" I reply "Most balls."
    • Letter to Evelyn Dubourg, 3 July 1880; p.238

Letters of Lewis Carroll to his Child-Friends (1933)[edit]

Of course you know what a Snark is? If you do, please tell me: for I haven't an idea what it is like.
Quotations from A Selection from the Letters of Lewis Carroll to his Child-Friends (1933) edited by Evelyn M. Hatch
  • It's been so frightfully hot here that been almost too weak to hold a pen, and even if I had been able, there was no ink — it had all evaporated into a cloud of black steam, and in that state it has been floating about the room, inking the walls and ceiling; till they're hardly fit to be seen: to-day it is cooler, and a little has come back into the ink-bottle in the form of black snow.
    • Letter to Mary MacDonald (23 May 1864), p.22
  • The only unlucky thing that happened to me was your writing to me. There!
    • Letter to Mary MacDonald (23 May 1864), p.23
  • They did things very simply in those days: if you had a lot of money, you just dug a hole under the hedge, and popped it in: then you said you had "put it in the bank"
    • Letter to Mary MacDonald (14 November 1864), p.24
  • Do not suppose I didn't write, hundreds of times; the difficulty has been with the directing - I directed the letters so violently at first, that they went far beyond the mark - some of them were picked up at the other end of Russia.
    • Letter to Mary MacDonald (5 December 1864), pp.24-5
  • My room is very easy to find when you get here, and as for distance, you know - why, Oxford is as near to London as London is to Oxford. If your geography-book doesn't tell you that, it must be a wretched affair.
    • Letter to Mary MacDonald (22 January 1866), p.26
  • The book has got a moral - so I need hardly say it is not by Lewis Carroll.
    • Letter to Lily MacDonald (5 January 1867), p.34
  • As to your all having grown so old that I no longer care for you, a difficulty occurs to me: can you leave off caring for people before you have begun?
    • Letter to Lily MacDonald (3 April 1870), p.35
  • What is "F" before "Dymphna"? Is it Fatima, Fenella or Feodora? or is it (I hardly dare hope for so beautiful a name) Foscofornia?
    • Letter to Dymphna Ellis (3 Aug 1865), p.40
  • I found out that she was called "Maggie" and lived in a Crescent! Of course I declared "After that" (the language I used doesn't matter), "I will not address her, that's flat! So do not expect me to flatter!"
    • Letter to Maggie Cunnynghame (30 January 1868), p.42
  • No carte has yet been done of me that does real justice to my smile; and so I hardly like, you see, to send you one - however, I'll Consider if I will or not - meanwhile I send a little thing to give you an idea of what I look like when I'm lecturing. The merest sketch, you will allow - yet I still think there's something grand in the expression of the brow and in the action of the hand.
    • Letter to Maggie Cunnynghame (30 January 1868), p.42
  • My best love to yourself - to your mother my kindest regards - to your small, fat, impertinent, ignorant brother my hatred.
    • Letter to Maggie Cunnynghame (30 January 1868), p.43
  • I hope to come and see you for about half an hour on the 3rd of July 1872.
    • Letter to Dolly Argles (222 April 1868), p.50; thus he was hoping to visit her in over four years.
  • Some children have a most disagreeable way of getting grown-up: I hope you won't do anything of that sort before we meet again.
    • Letter to Dolly Argles (28? April 1868), p.52
  • "Don't talk to me of going quick," said Fox, "you howling Hound!
    My feet are done with patent glue, that sticks them to the ground."
    • Letter to Dolly Argles (29 April 1868), p.54
  • You say you "hope you will soon see me." That depends on yourself: if when I come, you look carefully the other way and never turn your head round, it wil probably be a long time before you see me.
    • Letter to Dolly Argles (3 January 1869), p.58
  • A friend of mine, called Mr. Lewis Carroll, tells me he means to send you a book. He is a very dear friend of mine. I have known him all my life (we are the same age) and have never left him. Of course he was with me in the Gardens, not a yard off—even while I was drawing those puzzles for you. I wonder if you saw him?
    • Letter to Isabel Standen (22 August 1869), p.69
  • I did make an explanation once for "uffish thought" - It seems to suggest a state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish.
    • Letter to Maud Standen (18 December 1877), p.73
  • Some of my friends are business-men, and it is pleasant to see how methodical and careful they are in transacting any business matter. If, for instance, one of them were to write to me, asking me to look out for a place for a French governess in whom he was interested, I should be sure to admire the care with which he would give me her name in full (in extra-legible writing if it were an unusual name) as well as her address.

    Some of my friends are not men of business.

    • Letter to Isabel Standen (5 July 1885), p.75
  • He thought you might be "thirty" not "thirteen." "No child of thirteen ever wrote such a hand as that" he cried. However I told him you certainly were a child, and that you had been to a very good school at the bottom of the sea.
    • Letter to Mary Marshall (19 April 1870), p.79
  • The great question is, do you generally think right or wrong? I should say (judging by the experience of many years) wrong, almost always.
    • Letter to Janet Merriman (17 December 1870), p.80
  • "Why can't you make up your mind?" that's a riddle I've just invented. "Because you haven't got one to make up" - that's the answer to it, only you'd never have guessed it.
    • Letter to Janet Merriman (17 December 1870), p.80
  • It is a great shock to my sensitive feelings to find that young ladies (of a certain age, and engaged) persist in signing themselves "very affectionately": it shows a grievous disregard of the very rudiments of conventionalism; but how can I help it? Against such mighty forces, what avail the feeble efforts of Man?
    • Letter to Ella Monier-Williams (29 April 1880), p.89
  • My name is spelt with a "G," that is to say "Dodgson." Any one who spells it the same as that wretch (I mean of course the Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons) offends me deeply, and for ever! It is a thing I can forget, but never can forgive!
    • Letter to Gaynor Simpson (27 December 1873), p.90
  • As to dancing, my dear, I never dance, unless I am allowed to do it in my own peculiar way. There is no use trying to describe it: it has to be seen to be believed. The last house I tried it in, the floor broke through. But then it was a poor sort of floor — the beams were only six inches thick, hardly worth calling beams at all: stone arches are much more sensible, when any dancing, of my peculiar kind, is to be done. Did you ever see the Rhinoceros, and the Hippopotamus, at the Zoological Gardens, trying to dance a minuet together? It is a touching sight.

    Give any message from me to Amy that you think will be most likely to surprise her.

    • Letter to Gaynor Simpson (27 December 1873), pp.90-1
  • What an awful proposition! To drink tea from 4 to 6 would tax the constitution even of a hardened tea-drinker. For me, who hardly ever touch it, it would probably be fatal.
    • Letter to Mrs. Bessie Hatch (14 May 1873), p.94
  • What remarkably wicked children you are! I don't think you would find in all history, even if you go back to the times of Nero and Heliogabalus, any instance of children so heartless and so entirely reckless about returning story-books. Now I think of it, neither Nero nor Heliogabalus ever failed to return any story-book they borrowed. That is certain, because they never borrowed any, and that again is certain because there were none printed in those days.
    • Letter to Julia and Ethel Arnold (1874), p.96
  • At last I met a wheelbarrow that I thought would attend to me, but I couldn't make out what was in it. I saw some features at first, then I looked through a telescope, and found it was a countenance; then I looked through a microscope, and found it was a face! I thought it was rather like me, so I fetched a large looking-glass to make sure, and then to my great joy I found it was me. We shook hands, and were just beginning to talk, when myself came up and joined us, and we had quite a pleasant conversation.
    • Letter to Magdalen Williams (15 December 1875), pp.97-8
  • Of course you know what a Snark is? If you do, please tell me: for I haven't an idea what it is like.
    • Letter to Florence Balfour (6 April 1876), pp.98-9
  • As are the feelings of the old lady who, after feeding her canary and going out for a walk, finds the cage entirely filled on her return, with a live turkey - or of the old gentleman who, after chaining up a small terrier overnight, finds a hippopotamus raging round the kennel in the morning - such are my feelings when, trying to recall the memory of a small child who went to wade in the sea at Sandown, I meet with the astonishing photograph of the same microcosm suddenly expanded into a tall young person, whom I should be too shy to look at, even with the telescope which would no doubt be necessary to get any distinct idea of her smile, or at any rate to satisfy oneself whether she had eyebrows or not!
    • Letter to Florence Balfour (10 Feb 1882), p.99
  • I'm down here all alone, but as happy as a king - at least, as happy as some kings - at any rate I should think I'm about as happy as King Charles the First when he was in prison.
    • Letter to his cousin Menella Wilcox (20 July 1886), p.127
  • Hateful Spider, (You are quite right. It doesn't matter a bit how one begins a letter, nor, for the matter of that, how one goes on with it, or even how one ends it - and it comes awfully easy, after a bit, to write coldly - easier, if possible, than to write warmly. For instance, I have been writing to the Dean, on College business, and began the letter "Obscure Animalcule," and he is foolish enough to pretend to be angry about it, and to say it wasn't a proper style, and that he will propose to the Vice-Chancellor to expel me from the University: and it is all your fault!)
    • Letter to Agnes Hull (30 April 1881), p.149
  • I may as well just tell you a few of the things I like, and then, whenever you want to give me a birthday present (my birthday comes once every seven years, on the fifth Tuesday in April) you will know what to give me. Well, I like, very much indeed, a little mustard with a bit of beef spread thinly under it; and I like brown sugar - only it should have some apple pudding mixed with it to keep it from being too sweet; but perhaps what I like best of all is salt, with some soup poured over it. The use of the soup is to hinder the salt from being too dry; and it helps to melt it. Then there are other things I like; for instance, pins - only they should always have a cushion put round them to keep them warm. And I like two or three handfuls of hair; only they should always have a little girl’s head beneath them to grow on, or else whenever you open the door they get blown all over the room, and then they get lost, you know.
    • Letter to Jessie Sinclair (22 Jan 1878), pp.154-5
  • I shall be very glad to hear from you whenever you feel inclined to write, and from Sally, too, if she likes to try her had at writing. If she can't write with her hand, let her try with her foot.
    • Letter to Jessie Sinclair (22 Jan 1878), pp.155-6
  • I get about 2000 letters off, every year; but it isn't enough!
    • Letter to Mary Brown (22 Jan 1878), p.169
  • To say that I am quite well "goes without saying" with me. In fact my life is so strangely free from all trials & troubles, that I cannot doubt my own happiness is one of the "talents" entrusted to me to "occupy" with, till the Master shall return, by doing something to make "other" lives happy.
    • Letter to Mary Brown (22 Jan 1878), p.170
  • Why she should die, Mr. Tennyson only knows! I suppose he would say, "It gives a roundness and finish to the thing." So it may; but a heroine who would poison herself for that must have an almost morbid fondness for roundness and finish.
    • On the heroine committing suicide in Tennyson's play "The Cup"
    • Letter to Helen Feilden (12 Apr 1881), p.173
  • I have a good many friends among governesses - having a sort of sympathy with them, as a more or less down-trodden race.
    • Letter to Mrs. Richards (13 Mar 1882), p.177
  • Do we decide questions, at all? We decide answers, no doubt; but surely the questions decide us?
    • Letter to Marion Richards (8 Feb 1886), p.178
  • I must find a few minutes to offer you the very sincere wishes of an old friend that your married life may be a bright and peaceful one, and that you and your chosen husband may love each other with a love second only to your love of God and far above your love of any other object. For that is, I believe, the only essential for a happily married life: All else is trivial compared with it.
    • Letter to Kate Terry Lewis (4 July 1893), p.180
  • And will you then resign yourself to Fate and me, to be taken either to a Matinée or to the General Strike Meeting of the London Omnibus Company, whichever I find to be most expedient?
    • Letter to Beatrice Earle (3 June 1891), p.183
  • It is as much as I can do to find time to draw the corks of the bottles of beer I consume - and as for drawing children, it's out of the question!
    • Letter to Ethel Hatch (19 Aug 1884), p.189
  • Oh woman, in our hours of ease
    A most unmitigated tease!
    When pain and anguish wring the brow,
    Doesn't she make a jolly row?
    • Letter to Kitty Savile Clark, parodying Sir Walter Scott (29 November 1888), p.191
  • That anyone should look up to me, or think of asking my advice - well, it makes one feel humble, I think, rather than proud - humble to remember, while others think so well of me, what I really am, in myself.
    • Letter to Edith Rix (1887), p.195
  • My dear Winnie,
    But you will be getting tired of this long letter: so I will bring it to an end.
    • Letter to Winifred Stevens (22 May 1887), p.197
  • A bantam-hen that wastes an egg,
    Is sure to get extremely poor
    And to be forced at last to beg
    For hard-boiled eggs from door to door.
    • Letter to Violet Dodgson (6 May 1889), p.205
  • I really didn't dare to send it across the Atlantic - the whales are so inconsiderate. They'd have been sure to want to borrow it to show to the little whales, quite forgetting that the salt water would be sure to ruin it.
    • Letter to Isa Bowman, with a copy of Sylvie and Bruno, (16 May 1890), p.214
  • Do you know, I didn't even know of your existence? And it was such a surprise to hear that you had sent me your love! I felt just as if Nobody had suddenly run into the room, and given me a kiss! (That's the thing which happens to me, most days, just now.)
    • Letter to Sydney Bowlis (22 May 1891), p.221
  • Don't forget the kiss to yourself, please; on the forehead is the best place.
    • Letter to Sydney Bowlis (22 May 1891), p.222
  • I have very little time, now, fir society. (In fact, years ago, I began to decline all invitations.) The remaining years may be very few; and there is much work I still want to do.
    • Letter to Mrs. Egerton (8 March 1894), p.230
  • Praise isn't good for any of us; love is, and it would be a good thing if all the world were full of it; I like my books to be loved, and I like to think some children love me for the books, but I don't like them praised.
    • Letter to "The Lowrie Children" (undated), pp.241-2
  • I can guarantee that the books have no religious teaching whatever in them - in fact they do not teach anything at all.
    • Letter to "The Lowrie Children" (undated), p.242
  • As to the meaning of the Snark? I'm very much afraid I didn't mean anything but nonsense!
    • Letter to "The Lowrie Children" (undated), pp.242-3
  • In answer to your question, "What did you mean the Snark was?" will you tell your friend that I meant that the Snark was a Boojum. I trust that she and you will now feel quite satisfied and happy.
    • Letter to May Barber (12 Jan 1897), p.245

Some Oxford Scandals (1978)[edit]

  • I do not say this without some experience of the way in which an outlay that seemed trifling at the time has afterwards involved us in expenses to which we should probably have demurred had we foreseen them.
    • Letter to the Pall Mall Gazette (31 Oct 1874); p.6
  • I hold so strongly the principle that it is the duty of a minority loyally to accept the decision of the majority, and to make no attempt to reverse it, that I should be very sorry to be believed to have acted otherwise.
    • Letter to the Pall Mall Gazette (4 Nov 1874); p.7
  • Science ceased not to cry, "More gold, more gold!" And her three fair daughters, Chemistry, Biology and Physics (for the modern horse-leech is more prolific than in the days of Solomon), ceased not to plead, "Give, give!" And we gave; we poured forth our wealth like water (I beg her pardon, like H2O).
    • Letter to the Pall Mall Gazette (17 May 1877); p.8
  • It used once to be thought indispensable for an educated man that he should be able to write his own language correctly, if not elegantly; it seems doubtful how much longer this will be taken as a criterion.
    • Letter to the Pall Mall Gazette (17 May 1877); p.9
  • Mathematics, though good-humouredly scorned by the biologists on account of the abnormal certainty of its conclusions, is still reckoned among the sciences.
    • Letter to the Pall Mall Gazette (17 May 1877); p.9
  • The truth is that Christ Church stands convicted of two unpardonable crimes - being great, and having a name. Such a place must always expect to find itself "a wide mark for scorn and jeers" - a target where the little and nameless may display their skill.
    • Letter to the Observer (5 June 1881); p.12

The Letters of Lewis Carroll[edit]

Cohen, Morton N. and Green, Roger Lancelyn (1979): The Letters of Lewis Carroll (2 vols)

  • I should like to see whether you can give me any further help as to my difficulties with "p" in such combinations as "impossible," "them patience," "the power," "spake," which combinations have lately beaten me when trying to read in the presence of others, in spite of my feeling quite cool, and trying my best to do it "on rule." These failures have rather deferred the hope I had formed of being very soon able to help in Church again, for if I break down in reading to only one or two, I should be all the worse, I fear, for the presence of a congregation.
    • To speech therapist Henry Rivers, 1 September 1873
  • I could not well explain to you in my telegram, and had not the opportunity of doing so when we met, my reason for not undertaking, as you wished, to read the service. If I could have trusted myself to command my feelings and my voice, I should much have wished to read the service over the remains of my dear old uncle, whom I can never think of without the deepest affection and gratitude for his life-long kindness: but I did not feel I could safely do so. Otherwise, you may be sure I would have attempted it.
    • To his cousin Hume Dodgson, explaining why he refused to conduct his uncle's funeral service; 8 September 1884
  • You are quite correct in saying it is a long time since you have heard from me: in fact, I find that I have not written to you since the 13th of last November. But what of that? You have access to the daily papers. Surely you can find out negatively, that I am all right! Go carefully through the list of bankruptcies; then run your eye down the police cases; and, if you fail to find my name anywhere, you can say to your mother in a tone of calm satisfaction, "Mr. Dodgson is going on well."
    • To Edith Blakemore, 1 Jan 1895; vol.2, pp1048-9

M. N. Cohen & E. Wakeling, Lewis Carroll and His Illustrators (2003)[edit]

  • Do not, oh do not indulge such a wild idea as that a newspaper might err! If so, what have we to trust in this age of sham?
  • No man should be hurried in his work, and an artist least of all.
    • To A. B. Frost, 14 March 1878; p.42
  • I specially wish my face to remain unknown to the public. I like my books to be known, of course: but personally I hope to remain in obscurity.
    • To A. B. Frost, 3 May 1878; p.49
  • Never hurry yourself in the least over my work, I beg. But for the uncertainty of life, I would not ask for any continuity at all. Still, as neither of us is secure that his life will endure for a thousand long years, it will no doubt be advisable, when this picture is done and approved, to go on with the others whenever you have time and inclination.
  • Also another thing should be remembered: the narrator (the whole book will be autobiographical) must not appear in any of the illustrations.
    • (Of Sylvie and Bruno) To Harry Furniss, 7 March 1886; p.119
  • I think animals, treated as animals only, are very hard to depict comically. If animals could draw, and had a sense of humour, no doubt they could do it.
    • To Harry Furniss, 24 November 1886; p.126
  • I wish I dared dispense with all costume; naked children are so perfectly pure and lovely, but Mrs. Grundy would be furious; it would never do.
    • On what fairy children should wear; to Harry Furniss, 27 November 1886; p.132
  • I take no real meals but breakfast and dinner; for luncheon a couple of biscuits, or a bit of bread and cheese, will suffice.
    • To Harry Furniss, 23 August 1887; pp.139-40
  • I don't like either face of Lady Muriel. I don't think I could talk to her, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't fall in love with her.
    • To Harry Furniss, discussing draft pictures for Sylvie and Bruno, 1 September 1887; p.145
  • Most artists draw children's feet too small; they have some conventional idea of beauty which is not nature.
    • To Gertrude Thomson, 24 January 1879; p.232
  • I have been distributing copies [of Alice's Adventures] to all the hospitals and convalescent homes I can hear of, where there are sick children capable of reading them.
    • To Gertrude Thomson, 12 February 1879; p.235
  • If only you would study a few different faces from real life, so as to avoid the family-likeness, which seems so entirely inevitable, when an artist draws out of his own head,
    • To Gertrude Thomson, 16 July 1885; p.236
  • I was resolved to have the thing done in first-rate style, or not at all.
    • Of publishing a facsimile of Alice's Adventures Under Ground; to Gertrude Thomson, 16 July 1885; p.237
  • Mr. Tenniel is the only artist, who has drawn for me, who resolutely refused to use a model, and declared he has no more needed one than I should need a multiplication-table to work on a mathematical problem!
    • To Gertrude Thomson, 31 March 1892; p.247
  • To be like some actual child is to lose grace, because no living child is perfect in form: many causes have lowered the race from what God made it. But the perfect human form, free from these faults, is surely equally applicable to men, and fairies, and angels?
    • To Gertrude Thomson, 23 June 1893; p.259
  • All "dry-plate" photography is inferior, in artistic effect, to the now-abandoned "wet-plate": but, as a means of making memoranda of attitudes, etc., it is invaluable.
    • To Gertrude Thomson, 28 July 1893; p.264
  • Would you kindly do no sketches, or photos, for me on a Sunday? It is, in my view (of course I don't condemn any one who differs from me) inconsistent with keeping the day holy.
    • To Gertrude Thomson, 2 Oct 1893; p.278


  • Carroll, Lewis (1976): Three Letters on Anti-Vaccination
  • Carroll, Lewis (1978): Some Oxford Scandals
  • Cohen, Morton N. (1980): Lewis Carroll and the Kitchins
  • Cohen, Morton N. and Gandolfo, Anita (1987): Lewis Carroll and the House of Macmillan
  • Cohen, Morton N. and Green, Roger Lancelyn (1979): The Letters of Lewis Carroll (2 vols)
  • Cohen, Morton N. and Wakeling, Edward (2003): Lewis Carroll & His Illustrators
  • Collingwood, Stuart Dodgson (1898a): The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll
  • Collingwood, Stuart Dodgson (1899): The Lewis Carroll Picture Book
  • Hatch, Evelyn (1933): A Selection from the Letters of Lewis Carroll to His Child-Friends
  • Reed, Langford (1932): The Life of Lewis Carroll