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Showing 1-10 of 16 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 26 reviews
on July 29, 2013
Ms. Woolf's biography on Lewis Carroll is the best modern biography of Lewis Carroll which I have come across. It is well written and thoroughly researched. I liked it best for the way it dealt with and refuted past works which relied heavily on sexual interpretations of the Alice books and levied charges of paedophilia against Lewis Carroll. A welcome rehabilitation of Carroll's character! Highly recommended.
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In the century since his death, the life of Lewis Carroll became ensnarled in dark innuendo. Biographers and commentators have unleashed modern psychological theory on him to accuse him of pedophilia and other perversions. Jenny Woolf's fine new biography rescues Carroll from the darkness and describes the kindly, shy and admittedly eccentric man as he really was.

Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the oldest son in a large family fathered by a clergyman whose means never kept up with his expanding brood of children. Dodgson grew up surrounded by loving siblings then endured a difficult education at Rugby School. At Oxford his gift for mathematics blossomed, and he became a professor at Christchurch. He was not successful teaching college men since his shyness, stammer, and general diffidence did not inspire respect among the upper class hearties with whom he was afflicted. He did much better teaching young women at a private school in Oxford. This seems to have been the general pattern of Carroll's life: a preference for the company of young women and girls with whom he could let his gift for being droll and even nonsensical develop.

In our era a man who prefers the company of children, especially young girls, is viewed with suspicion. In the nineteenth century, as Woolf ably points out, attitudes were different. In a number of remarkable and illuminating chapters Woolf describes Carroll's love for children, chronicling his celebrated friendship with Alice Liddell and her siblings among others and linking it to his interest in photography. Seen in this light, his "fairy photos" of scantily clad children have a much more innocent explanation than is commonly given them today. Woolf also describes Carroll's abundant generosities and other kindnesses to his family and friends, which eventually led to financial embarrassment. The picture that emerges is of a gentle, not very practical man who lived in a dream world in which reality intruded only rarely and usually painfully, as when some of his young friends or their parents turned their backs on him. Knowing the story behind them gives his stories and poetry new meaning and delight.
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on July 16, 2015
So interesting to meet the real person behind the incredible imaginary Alice and her adventures. The author worked hard to debunk some of the less favorable books/reports about Dodgson as a possible pedophile. . . .he truly was a genius on several fronts, had an amazing imagination that may have given some comfort and escape from his complex and challenging existence in a Victorian setting. Good read for historical biography buffs.
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on August 21, 2016
Very interesting. Lots of research went into this book. Well done.
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on September 16, 2016
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on July 31, 2013
Woolf has written a good biography that tackles head on the questions about his penchant for photographing young girls. She makes a strong case that he was eccentric, but not a pedophile. She brings in new material--Carroll's bank accounts--which show his generosity to members of his family and to. Many others. A reasonable case could be made that Carroll was asexual, just not interested and for that reason found the company of children unthreatening, but Woolf does not do this and it is perhaps the book's main defect. Otherwise it is an interesting and well written book, that unfortunately has to leave many mysteries unresolved.
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on February 12, 2010
Having read many other books about Lewis Carroll, I thought this was excellent. It was very easy to read and I thought the theories were all reasonable, and made use of the latest information avialable. The actual 8 page "Personal Conclusion" did seem a bit disjointed and rushed for some reason, but this did not detract from the whole. This book focuses in on the innner man, his motivations and true character. It makes use of the facinating new discovery of Lewis Carroll's bank account which was recently found in the archives of the Barclay's Bank. One thing this clearly reveals is what a charitable man he truly was, with a deep concern especially for women and children who had fallen on hard times in the streets of London. This book would be well to read in conjunction with Morton Cohen's biography which tries to give a much more historical look at the man; going into detail about all of the names and places and dates surrounding the man. But this book is much more pleasant to read and gives you a quick glance into the phyche of a very private man; a most beloved friend to dozen's of children, brother to seven sisters and three brothers, and famous author of children's books.
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on January 5, 2013
A thoughtful presentation of the evidence available in the context of the period Lewis Carol lived. It tries to show Carol's quirky human facets and imagination without trying to impress today's conspiracy world on it.
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on June 9, 2014
Needed a book for information on Lewis Carroll and this was a good pick. I found that after I got the information out of the book for my report, I ended up finishing the book and enjoyed it thoroughly.
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on February 11, 2015
A must read for those having any interest whatsoever in the true Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland
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