A Theory on Lewis Carroll (Personal Notes)

While a student at the University of Christ Church, a man by the name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson befriended three young girls who were to forever change the course of his life. Known to the world as Lewis Carroll, the shy, stammering mathematician penned a story entitled, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which events and persons from his personal life, including the Liddell sisters, could be found scattered throughout the text. From the acrostic ‘A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky’ spelling ‘Alice Pleasance Liddell’, to the story of the three little sisters, in which ‘Alice’ can be unscrambled from the name ‘Lacie’ (106), further studies of Alice’s adventures have come to reveal something far more shocking: that Lewis Carroll was not the man, nor the author we believed him to be. In fact, even his pseudonym was a puzzle we overlooked.

I believe that Charles Ludwidge (Lutwidge) Dodgson was intentional with his pseudonyms and respectfully reject the long-held theory Roger Lancelyn Green posed (that Charles translated his English name into Latin and back into English). If this were truly the case, the other pseudonyms provided to Edmund Yates (listed in Donald Thomas’s work) would not exist. As the Liddell girls (Alice, Edith, and Lorina) were placed in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, so too was Charles behind weaving their names into his pseudonyms. 

() indicate letters not found in the name that were present in the others 

+ denotes extra letter present in other pen names
Edgar Cuthwellis/ (o) (+r)
Edgar U.C. Westhill/ (o) (+r)
Louis Carroll/ Lo ro /(e) (w) (h) (t) (g) (d) (+e)
Lewis Carroll/ L ro /(h) (t) (u) (g) (d) (+e)

  1. In ‘Louis Carroll’ (Loro) are the extra letters not present in the two other pen names not chosen for publication.
  2. In ‘Lewis Carroll’ (Lro) are the extra letters not in the finalized pen name he chose.
  3. In either two names, Lor is present, denoting the first three letters of Lorina’s name.
  4. In ‘Louis Carroll’, e, w, h, t, g, d, +e were present in the first two suggested for publication, but absent from this version. 
  5. In ‘Lewis Carroll’, h, t, u, g, d, +e, were omitted, though present in the first two. One has to wonder why the letter ‘w’ was present in three out of four, but not present in the third.
  6. In the final, there is only one ‘e’. Why? Why drop the added ‘e’? 
  7. The letter ‘o’ and extra ‘r’ from the finalized name are not in the first two.
  8. In 1, 2, & 4, the name ‘Alice’ can be found. 
  9. ‘Edith’ is found in the first two, as well as ‘Alice’. Both share an ‘I’.
  10. Both 3 & 4 contain the same letter repetitions as ‘Liddell’- with letters 3&4 of the last name being ‘rr’ and the last two being ‘ll’. In turn, all entries have a five-lettered first name, as does ‘Alice’.

The line, “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see” makes the most sense from the perspective of the character hinting at the answer in breaking the fourth wall. Further, when Alice states on page 23, “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle”, only to affirm, “I’m a little girl” on page 74, textual clues point to how the reader can answer the internal riddles, such as the cleverness of the author’s pseudonym.

Why I believe the pseudonym relates to the three Liddell girls:

There is significance in the number ‘three’ due to the frequency of its appearance. It’s my supposition this relates to the three Liddell girls Charles befriended prior to writing the story and who Alice was one of its members.

For example:

  1. ‘Her face like the three gardeners’ (115)
  2. ’the Duchess was sitting on a three-legged stool’ (82)
  3. ‘three inches is such a wretched height to be’ (69)
  4. ‘the three soldiers’ (119)
  5. ‘I have answered three questions, and that is enough’ (68)
  6. ‘On this, the White Rabbit blew three blasts’ (164)
  7. ‘Why, I haven’t had a wink of sleep these three weeks!’ (74)
  8. ‘heard her sentence three of the players’ (125)
  9. ‘three gardeners’ (118)
  10. ‘One, two, three, and away’ (37)

Further, we know that objects (such as a white glove and thimble) held significance outside of the story. For example, in 1950, under a loose floorboard at Croft Rectory, renovators of the facility found a thimble, a child’s white glove, and a child’s left shoe.

If the story of Alice is truly a personal gift for the girl who inspired the story, then would it not make sense to have that gift reflect a familiar but altered world via a series of puzzles?


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