January 27, 2010
Happy Birthday, Lewis!
by Valerie Merians
Today is the birthday of mathematician, photographer, and writer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, born in Cheshire, England in 1832.
Carroll is most widely known for his children’s stories Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glassâ€”about a young girl Alice’s adventures in fairyland. Alice in Wonderland is soon to be seen in a theater near you, thanks to director Tim Burton.
A mathematics professor at Oxford University’s Christ’s Church, Dodgson/Carroll conceived of the story of Alice to entertain Christ Church’s new Dean, Henry Liddell’s daughtersâ€”Lorina, Edith and Alice Liddell. After Alice begged him to write the story down, and it met with great enthusiasm within his circle, Dodgson found a publisher, and the illustrator, Sir John Tenniel, whose illustrations contributed so much to the book’s success.
Among Carroll’s great works is counted his nonsense poem, The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits, first published in 1876 by Macmillian. It is a stunning example of the genre of literary nonsense, showing Carroll’s great wit and facility with word play, logic and fantasy.
What’s more, it is soon to be republished by Melville House in Fall 2010, with gorgeous new illustrations by Mahendra Singh. In this beautifully illustrated new edition, the Snark lives on!
Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.