The man who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was born today in 1832. In honour of this, here’s another instalment in our new ‘Five Fascinating Facts’ series, this time all about Lewis Carroll.
1. There is an interesting link between Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Specifically, the title of Carroll’s book was suggested to him by Tom Taylor, the author of Our American Cousin – the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated in 1865. Carroll wanted to call his book Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, but Taylor thought that with such a title, young readers might think the book had something to do with mining!
2. Lewis Carroll once stayed up all night composing an anagram of William Ewart Gladstone. The result of such lucubration was the following gem: ‘Wild agitator, means well’.
3. He almost always brewed his tea for exactly ten minutes. He would time it, too. Quite fitting that the author who was also a mathematician took such a mathematical and precise attitude even when it came to his afternoon tea!
4. He called himself ‘Dodo’. As we’ve discussed in our previous post, Interesting Facts about Lewis Carroll, this was possibly a result of his stutter: Carroll’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and some commentators have surmised that ‘Dodo’ was a result of his stammering pronunciation of his surname.
5. His numerous inventions included a tricycle and a method for justifying right-hand margins on a typewriter. He also invented a word game called the ‘word ladder’, the object of which is to transform one word into another by altering one letter in the original word each time to form a new word (e.g. cold to warm, as in cold – wold – word – ward – warm). The game seems like the perfect synthesis of Carroll’s playfulness and preciseness, rolled up into one.
If you enjoyed this list of literary trivia, we recommend our book crammed full of 3,000 years of interesting bookish facts, The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, available now from Michael O’Mara Books.
Image: Lewis Carroll, 1863, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.