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The Alice Behind Wonderland

Simon Winchester

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Oxford University Press
15 October 2016
Individual photographers; Biography; Literary studies: general; Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers; Children's literature studies: general
On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London.

Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image - as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation - as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to "Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid" than meets the eye.

Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.
By:   Simon Winchester
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 209mm,  Width: 141mm,  Spine: 9mm
Weight:   157g
ISBN:   9780190614546
ISBN 10:   0190614544
Pages:   128
Publication Date:   15 October 2016
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Simon Winchester is the author of Atlantic, The Professor and the Madman, The Map that Changed the World, and A Crack in the Edge of the World, all of which have been New York Times bestsellers. In recognition of his accomplished body of work, Winchester was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006. He lives in Manhattan and western Massachusetts.

Reviews for The Alice Behind Wonderland

As usual with Winchester, well-founded, witty and perceptive. Kirkus Mr. Winchester's elegantly written study provides a balanced, sympathetic portrait of a complex and gifted man. Wall Street Journal What Winchester offers that is new, largely, is a detailed explanation the nascent field of amateur Victorian photography. He meticulously tracks Dodgson's 1856 purchase of his first mahogany-and-brass folding camera. He carefully works through the history of the development of the camera, and explains the difference between the daguerreotype, the calotype, and the wet-plate collodion that Dodgson relied on. Marjorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor In this very slim volume a nice break, for history lovers, from the trend toward doorstop-sized commitments Winchester provides a new perspective on the shy bachelor who wrote one of the world's most famous children's stories, while questioning the most recent scholarship that neglects the role of photography in Dodgson's life. An important addition to the burgeoning collection of Dodgson scholarship, this book will appeal to scholars and general readers and is recommended to all. Library Journal With remarkable clarity and eloquence, Winchester uses this photograph as the focal point for an examination of the man behind Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Financial Times


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