Thursday, 21 February 2013

A Train of Thought.

Now then Emily,

I know we said Humpty Dumpty tonight, and I know I said so for two nights running- but we have read it before Emily you remember?

Anyway GiGi wants to tell you how Alice ended up as a train journey of thought, and how this figured in Dodgson's idea for a sequel.

All right, ok, I'm sorry, and I will tell you about Humpty again I promise. Look, here's a nice new picture of Alice for you. She's on a train...

Not only that Em, but the inspiration for this one ( though GiGi's colouring in lends itself more to Modigliani met Van Gogh on an off day- but then your Daddy paints like that too! ) was your very own Millais!

'My first sermon' Millais

So there you are Em, pre-raph your little heart out on that one ( you'd look good in red by the way. )

Back to business.

So, Dodgson says of his first visit to Wighty, that he happened to come down and stay with an old friend, and that he wasn't coming down just to see Tennyson. Ok. Well, 'Collyns'- said friend wasn't actually in the area, he was on the way- and could easily have been picked up and brought to the Isle, by train or horse. Collyns taught at the school in Hampshire that Dean Liddell's son Harry was a pupil at ( Dodgson's first child friend- he had first met all the Liddells also on a train journey in 1856, just before he accidentally met them again at Oxford whilst photographing the Chapel.) In 1857, there were rumours of an affair with the Liddell's governess- 'Miss Prickett' ( some indicate this as the key to his duality of personality- a broken heart peut-etre. ) We won't bother with the conjecture.

However, when Dodgson came down for the third time, in 1864, after the famous boat-trip that inspired his tale in - he had also had a similarly inspiring train journey with the Liddells in Spring 1863, during which tales were as usual told- but hadn't made it into his debut tome. ( This journey does make it  into chapter three of 'Looking Glass', with a pastiche of Disreali- Tenniel in Punch-stylee dressed in his 'White Paper'. )

Dodgson liked train journeys, and by the time he came down for his 1864 visit- the impending railway route from Yarmouth to Freshwater was still twenty-four years away from fruition- Tennyson being a vociferous objector. 

But this particular journey, prior to the publication of 'Alice in Wonderland' lay dormant, whilst putting said book to bed. 
The characters he met and lampooned here, were woven into an altogether darker sequel. The grotesque, the pre-surrealistic animals ( inspired by the zeit-geist of 'Grandeville' who was Tenniels French protagenist- who has been heralded as the precursor of the Surrealist movement ) and the twisted tangled turn of mind have all distilled into the sequel combining into the most famous childrens books of all time.

There we are Emily, I made my point. 

Hope you liked the pictures.

Sleep well, little one.

Your ever-loving Grand-mother- GiGi xxx

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Meeting my thoughts coming back.

Hello Emily,

Brr 'tis cold today. Got to get Miss Emilia and Mr Marley exercised though- up the Down and towards the Monument. When you reach the top and look down towards Yarmouth you can see the view that Dodgson ( a keen walker as well as stalker ) would have seen- which is pertinent to our Chapter today- so shall muffle up and get up there for a piccie for you!

So, Emily, I wrote the above bit this morning- and had intended to do a little bit about the scenery and where Dodgson was inspired to set his characters- and then we were moving on to the Edward Lear chapter. But, me-thinks we shall alight here as it's probably worth a post of its own!

Here's a War department map of the time. Just to the left of the Bay, is Plumbly's Hotel where Dodgson was staying for three weeks in July/August 1864.
Dodgson was known to be a keen walker- often covering 20-30 miles a day. You can see Farringford in the middle of the map, surrounded by trees and meadows, defined by hedges and trees. Just to the bottom of the estate is a plot surrounded by woodland coined 'The Wilderness' ( which crops up in 'Through the Looking Glass'. )

If one takes a diagonal route up from Plumbly's and over the Down through the Wilderness and then onwards off the map to the left, one reaches The Needles- and the then 'Needles Hotel' where we know Dodgson walked to visit friends. That he took this route more than once is also known- and as it is a walk of outstanding natural beauty, plus it means you get a good look at the Farringford Estate, from what we have already learned about Dodgson, it's highly likely he tromped around quite a bit.

I've been convinced that this particular scenery was where Dodgson placed his story since we moved here last June- it was the scenery that actually gave me the first clues. The Wilderness is mentioned, and each precise Tenniel illustration sums up the woodlands and copses succintly for me.

But to try and show the reader my birds-eye view? Tricky.

Anyhows, off I went Em armed with two Labradors to get some shots that aid my notes.
Here they are:-

This is on the way up towards the High Down, ie across a field from Plumbly's towards the Wilderness.

( We'll go into the Wilderness another time ) This one is when you turn around and start to come back, and look across the meadows towards the Farringford.

Turning your head towards the right you start to see squarish meadows cutting the landscape into chunks edged with hedgerows.

Looking further to the right again, you can see GiGi's house in the middle and Freshwater Bay peeking out on the right. This scenery was also intersected with Hedgerow in the 1860's, you can see some of this on the map.

And there you are, on your way back to Plumbly's with the Bay in full sight ( again, remember the fields were at that time intersected and outlined with hedgerows. )

So there we were Em, I thought that was adequate to show where I was coming from on this- so to speak. So I sat down to do a 'colouring in'...

And, whaddya know... It was there all along! Tenniel had already drawn the Bay in the top right hand corner I just hadn't seen it before...

Lucky old GiGi, saves a bit of doubt for the reader eh Em!

Tomorrow, we'll get on to Humpty Dumpty I expect.

Yours as always- ever-loving Grand-mother GiGi xxx

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Cameron's Clique and the 'Catty Pattles'


Well today was another flurry of Half-term visitors to Dimbola, all in good humour as the Bay sparkles in the very welcome sunshine.

A lady came in with her family and commented on the Mannequin we have dressed up as Julia- " I should wear that on Monday". When I asked what for- she told me she was going to her Mothers funeral, and that Mum had honeymooned at Dimbola in 1940. "It's such a lovely, happy-house " she said. At the Bookshop I met someone recently who spent her Honeymoon there in 1960- it's great to hear first-hand histories and memories.

Now then, my little proof-reader, back to business. We left off yesterday at Chapter two- the one where I introduce the Tennyson clan, and how Dodgson fell from grace with them ( you know the next bit- I do the character un-masking then- over the next two pages accompanied by my colouring-in. )

So, we've introduced Dodgson staying at the Bay in 1864, and catalogued his previous visits too. We've introduced his original prey, and now we move on to the force of nature that was our own Julia Margaret Cameron...

Chapter Three

'The Julia Margaret Cameron Effect'

For the purposes of this little book, and the limits of space, let us assume that the reader knows a little about this extraordinary Woman. Tennysons fame and legacy is easier to precis, whilst focussing on Carroll's writings, but a word or two about Julia's dynamic and forceful, somewhat overbearing presence is in order to set the tone of the relationship.
The fact alone that Julia ( from 1863 onwards ) became a pioneering blue-stocking Photographer was probably enough to set Charles Dodgson's niggling inferiority/superiority complex off- but that this came after he had 'assisted' her photographic education; and wormed his way into her coterie- yet was habitually 'sent home for lunch', and that Julia had a hand in persuading Emily Tennyson that Dodgsons portraits made her look haggard, similarly his portrait of a young Una Taylor was likened by her to a 'sick sea-monster', made her a prime target for Dodgsons 'Grotesque Cariacature Revenge'.

So, to set the scene. Dodgson befriended Julia at Dimbola in Freshwater Bay during his 1862 visit. They had met originally in London- Julia's Brother-in-Law Lord Somers had been head of the Photographic Society for a year, and had been teaching Julia, along with Dodgson, his good friend Robert Southey, and Oscar Reijlander, in the ways of their collective pioneering skills.

Somers- then seconded into Parliament by the elderly Lord Landsdowne, saw fit to forget he did anything 'arty' and history is left without proof of many of his works- often ascribed to Somers or Dodgson- inconclusively.

During the Spring of 1862 visit, Dodgson would have predominantly witnessed a female driven melee- a gaggle of squabbling chaotic social whirls- of maids praised for their beauty rather than their domesticity, a constant stream of visiting eminences, ( Henry Taylor- a Poet admired by Cameron- was also a Civil Servant, whose visit to stay en famille at Dimbola was heralded by Julia commanding the building of a bay window- just for him to enjoy during his visit. ) Benjamin Jowett ( Master of Balliol at Oxford ) was burning the mid-night oil at the other end of 'The Terrace' translating Plato, and the Thackeray girls and soldiers from Redoubt Fort came and went.

Most annoyingly probably to Dodgson, was that Julia had the gall to set up home, slap-bang next door to Tennyson and was brazenly creating a Salon akin to those now becoming fashionable in London Society- those that Dodgson had not been invited into.

Little Holland House ( in Holland Park West London ) was Julia's former stomping ground. Hosted by her sister Sara Prinsep, with pet artist G.F Watts in residence- the exclusion of Dodgson was further insensced by Watts courting of one of Charles child-friends, the actress Ellen Terry.

The Duchess of Argyll ( also feted by Tennyson ) had also adopted the previously French Fashion of the 'Literary Salon', and now Julia Margaret Cameron was fast becoming the 'Madame de L'Etang' of the Bay, with Tennyson as her 'Chateaubriand'. More-over- Dodgson was not invited to table!

His visit in 1864- as 'Alice' was getting the finishing touches begore being sent to print, found him person non grata with Tennyson, and at Julia's house- the Woman was now a 'Photographer'!

To cap it all- Watts had married Dodgson's fair maiden Ellen Terry in January that year- she aged 16, he twenty years older.

Ellen passed difficult days at Freshwater, not feeling the love of the older set; she preferred to run amok with the Tennyson boys, climbing trees and play-fighting. Ultimately, Watts sent her back to her parents, advised by Julia's sisters ( the 'Catty Pattle sisters' as unkindly named. )

Julia and her sisters were very well known in Society. Famed for their artistry in society,( Sara ) their beauty ( Virginia ) and talent ( Julia- also called the 'Bas-bleu'-Blue-stocking ) they also came in for un-kind gossip about their heritage.

Granny had lived at Versailles, the daughter of a man widely supposed to be Madame de Pompadours lover. Julia and her siblings spent much of their formative years there. More-over, the girls dark skin, and predilection for chattering together in Hindi and French, wearing brightly coloured self-made Bohemian velvet garb that eschewed the fashionable Crinoline- gave spite to gossip that the 'Pattle' surname was merely a got-up version of the common 'Patel' low caste one.

These ladies could not have been more unlike Dodgson's own mild-mannered un-married ( except for one ) sisters.

The way they strode through society, seemingly unheeding of the strategies Dodgson had to negotiate at Oxford, must have rankled with our snobbish Mathematician.

They charmed, and included who-so-ever they liked! But, Dodgson was sent home for supper...

So, let us now see how Dodgson composited these experiences in 'Through The Looking Glass'

Em, here follows four pages of un-masking. Tomorrow we are on the Edward Lear bit.

Enough for now, sleep tight.

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxx

Monday, 18 February 2013

Alice aforethought.

Dearest Em,

Hopping in and out of Dimbola today, up and down the lane in the bright sunshine it's half-term- and the Bay is beginning to wake up for the season ahead...

What was Plumbly's Hotel, these days is called 'The Fellowship' and I can see from here families setting off for the beach, or up to the Needles on a long trek over Tennyson Down.

It isn't so different a scene to the one that Dodgson saw himself when he was staying here, just one thing that helps me to imagine his imagination running amok...

When Julia Margaret Cameron held Bohemian Court at Dimbola, it was noisy ( as it is now ) with people rushing hither and thither all-about a photographic mission, or an esteemed visitor expected
( again not dissimilar, ) however we might see Lewis Carroll's personage today as one which might command some attention. That's because we are looking backwards from the point of view of his success.

The Victorian reality was somewhat different...

Chapter Two

'Trying to Lionise'

When Dodgson first visited Freshwater Bay on April 13th 1859, this would be the second rather 'engineered' visit to see Tennyson at his Farringford home- something he refutes ( a little too vehemently ) in a letter dated May 11th of the same year to his Cousin William:-

" Wilfred ( Charles' brother ) must have basely misrepresented me if he said that I followed the Laureate down to his retreat, as I went, not knowing he was there, to stay with an old college friend at Freshwater. Being there, I had the inalienable right of a freeborn Briton to make a morning call, which I did, in spite of my friend Collyns having assured me that the Tennysons had not yet arrived."

Before the Alice stories were thought of, Dodgson had studied Tennyson's work, paying close attention to any letters he 'might' have written to The Times, and scribing a clever parody of 'Two Voices' a Tennyson poem- which he turned into 'Three Voices' in 1856. It wasn't uncommon for poets to parody each other- but Dodgson did this with a high and mighty twist- there were three voices in the poem- not two- so Dodgson showed himself in a superior manner.

Apparently Tennyson was a bit 'stung' by this, but he also had to deal with a lot of this stuff, and he still allowed Dodgson to photograph his family in 1857.

At Freshwater, it seems, the Poet felt inclined to be cordial. Emily his wife was unwell, so he used this as a reason for sending Dodgson away, and not extending a dinner invitation. However Dodgson turned up for tea, and supper the next night- and even managed to squeeze in a morning visit- extracting some lines of poetry from Lionel.

Dodgson's self-confessed forte was what he called 'lionising', which meant that he ingratiated himself first with the children ( with whom he always lost his speech impediment ) and in doing so- scored emotional blackmail points with the parents.

In April of 1862, Dodgson was back at Farringford again, meeting Benjamin Jowett there, whom he had been verociously writing 'squibs' about at Oxford. All that Emily Tennyson says of this time in her somewhat 'sanitised' diary is 'the Henry Taylors & their daughters & Mr Dodgson here at this time & we see them often'. Not so much of Alfred though- as Charles records in his letter to a sister following the holiday ' I have seen hardly anything more of Mr Tennyson- and day-time does not seem propitious to getting much conversation out of him'.
He did manage to catch up with the two boys Hallam and Lionel on the beach and teach them how to fight 'The Battle of Waterloo', and he did give Lionel a pen-knife which concerned Emily. He had also photographed Emily with her sons unsuccessfully in Emily's eyes, who demanded all copies destroyed.
By August 1862, ( after the famous Oxford boating picnic that gave birth to Alice in Wonderland ) Tennyson sent a strong arrow across Dodgson's bow, concerning Charles' pirated copy of early verse published only in America, he records:- 'The sale of the American reprint of Tennyson's early poems is objected as an infringement of copyright. Wrote to Tennyson begging permission to keep the book.'

When Dodgson visited again for three weeks in 1864, the snub was complete, he was not invited to Farringford, and had to content himself at the 'Court of Queen Julia' at Dimbola instead. For photography assignment, he was allowed the Tradespeople- 'The Gardener and the Carpenter.'

Later, at the time he was putting 'Through the Looking Glass' to bed, the quarrel escalated tremendously. Dodgson had not taken his place properly amongst the rebuked. He wrote to Tennyson requesting permission to show poetry and a manuscript that Tennyson had allowed to be set to music- 'to be shown to his friends'.
Tennyson somewhat grandiously decided he had not quite gotten the point, and accused Dodgson of not being a 'Gentleman'. Long-held Hero-worship, and presumably scorn combined in Dodgsons mind and imagination.

Here we begin our un-masking of characters...

Enough for today, my Emily. The next two pages are all-about the unmasking. We shall pick up tomorrow at Julia's house, and how Dodgson found the motley crew!

Sleep tight little one, your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxx

Seaside Squibbles

Dearest Emily,

There we were happily reading and scribbling and a-colouring in Em, and all of a sudden it seemed there had been an explosion!

What began in 'The Bookroom' hasn't stayed in 'The Bookroom' and GiGi's lovely evening sitting room sofa is surrounded by books. Grumpa calls it her 'obsession', and Dimbola's up-coming 'Alice' exhibition is just over a month away.

I think you'll enjoy it Emily, we've got some amazing books from the first UK edition, to a stunning Arthur Rackham, and even a recording from the 1960's with Arthur Askey for a radio show. Auntie Lottie is making a 'Red and White Queen Mannequin' and a lovely lady from Southsea is loaning her private museum display! Alice through the ages, all the different illustrators from Tenniel to date.

However my pretty, it means Granny has got to get a move on, and your little book goes to print at the end of the week- eek!

So, you've seen the cover, and were happy with that. Let's get on to the first chapter...

Freshwater Bay

In the summer of 1864, a socially aspiring young man of 32 took a railway journey followed by a boat trip to the Isle of Wight. He booked himself in to the smart 'Plumbly's Hotel' shown here in a Victorian chromolithograph of Freshwater Bay.
His stay was to be of three weeks duration, and it was the third time he had visited this charming and remote spot.
His first visit, was in May 1859, and appears to all intents and purposes to have been a contrivance to meet the areas most celebrated inhabitant, the Poet Laureate Tennyson.

This, 'I just happened to be in the vicinity and dropped by as is my inalienable right' followed a similar one to meet the Poet and family in Autumn 1857, when they were staying with friends in Coniston.

Armed with his own particular brand of calling card - his photographs, he used his skill as his entree to important houses to make the acquaintance of those who ordinarily ignored his existence. This visit had been planned following an earlier photographic session with Tennyson's young niece Agnes Weld, and therefore his reason for calling.

His day-job as a lowly Mathematician commanded a wage that was far too negligible to warrant status, or the chance of marriage in a social circle he desired to be included into.

He was a shy, stammering insomniac, with a clever twist of mind and a peculiar humour inherited from his very Reverand Father.

This fastidious and timid exterior covered a deep and busy interior. A meticulous recorder and diarist, whose busy head calmed in the presence of children, had an incorrigible habit of perceiving 'slights' and taking offense at behaviour and remarks of others, and had a very specific outlet for revenge- as we shall discover.

At this time, mostly, his revenge had been vented in the form of 'Squibs' ( political and social 'firecrackers' set to get tongues wagging ) and had been published anonymously until one day when he decided on a pen-name made up from the Latin version of his name.

Lewis Carroll.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, as Lewis Carroll wrote the most well-known of all childrens books- 'Alice in Wonderland' published in 1865, inspired by a boat trip in 1862 with the young Liddell sisters of which Alice became the central muse.

Our story concerns a time, when Dodgson was putting one manuscript to bed, and had a free-floating idea for a sequel.

Here at Freshwater Bay, his focus began to shift, from one childrens story-book to another- a flip of the mind into the Looking Glass, and an altogether more sophisticated squib...

Let us get introduced to a new cast of characters to join the Alice crew.

Off to the Bookroom now Em, I'll send you more this week as it gets writ!

Your ever-loving Grand-mother GiGi, xxx

Friday, 8 February 2013

Timorous Beastlies.

Dearest Em,

Back at The Bookroom today ( oh joy! ) having been surplus to requirements over the low season. I've missed it, and the books that found me today were about The Great Exhibition of 1851 ( with some interesting 'Punch' cartoons that Tenniel did; a book on the History of Oxford, with some lovely maps, and a Ruskin children's book written in 1846 "The Tale of the Golden River', with more on the 'Goblin' theme we've visited recently. All interesting stuff.

Then Em, I go home for lunch and to take those two beasties of mine out for their walk- and hey-ho, Amazon's delivered something I've been on the trail of for a while!

Today's work!

Well Emily! 

This post was due to be 'The Red Queen', but no, no, no; we must pause a while, and please pardon my  level of excitement, but ooh Em!

The 'Red King's Dream' by Jo Elwyn Jones and J.Francis Gladstone ( yes, descendant ) is the focus of my delight. Way back when my 'light-bulb moment' happened about JMC being the Red and White Queen, Brian and Colin both mentioned this book to me. Though, they couldn't remember its name and I had misguidedly been looking for 'The Red Queen' so hadn't come across it.

Emily, they're on the same trail as me...

They too found Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and a lot more besides. I simply HAVE to get in touch and compare notes.

For reasons you'll understand I'm sure, my credits for this post lay almost entirely with this book.
So, there I was kinda leaving the 'creatures' in the Alice-books alone, just as I don't touch the Math bit ( brain won't go there. ) 'Fossil' Martin of Black-gang Chine fame, keeps trying to draw me over to this, saying that there was a load of Darwin 'Origin of the Species' relevance. 
However, I kept trying to keep my focus on 'Looking-Glass' stuff, with the only objects of curiosity being those who transcend one to the other ( i.e 'Alice in Wonderland' through to 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' ) but I can't.
To thank Bob again for his really useful term 'Intertextuality', that's what we come back to every time.

Wombats began the creature focus Em, that and the Pre-Raphs, and its not yet time to move on.

Ruskin.  8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900

John Ruskin, primarily Art Critic, also Pre-Raph staunch supporter, and Artist and writer in his own right- who eventually went mad, and who was at Oxford with Dodgson, used to work in to his landscapes, 'secret portraits'. 
More importantly in our tale, he was close to the Liddells,  apparently he was rather keen on Alice's older sister Ina, ( whom he gave a gilt metal filigree necklace to ) and contrived a meeting with the rather over-confident child Alice, when her parents were out for supper.

I don't expect, with what we know of Charlie-boy, that that went down terribly well with him.

So, what did he do? The usual, Em, turn him into something he wrote about and lampooned.

Enter, 'The Gryphon'; Ruskin was very particular about his 'Griffins'. 

An aggrieved Dodgson knew how to push his buttons.

The Gryphon is rather 'distasteful' to Alice who is rather concerned about being left alone with him.
This posts 'colouring in' is from an original draft for the 'Gryphon' by Tenniel- as I'm getting a bit puritanical about the source these days.

Ruskin, only liked to show one side of his face lit properly in portrait, as he had been savaged by a dog as a child- and liked to show his 'best-side'.

Well, I did say we were off to the 'Dark-Side' Em, but I didn't know we were still in 'Alice in Wonderland', I thought we had crossed the divide and were in 'Alice Through the Looking Glass', but no, who knew, 'twas our 'Timorous Beastlies' that would take us there.

So, ma petite, I shall sign orff. We shall get to the Red Queen, I promise.

Somehow I have gotten myself involved at Dimbola with an 'Alice' exhibition. All good of course, but it means a bit more work, obviously no peace for your wicked Grandmother.

Admiringly yours,

Your ever-loving Grand-mother GiGi xxxxx

Monday, 4 February 2013

Twinkle twinkle little wombat

Dearest Em,

I read a Christina Rossetti poem at your Mummy and Daddy's wedding- I made a pact with 'Uncle Ben'  the Best Man, that if I didn't cry when I read it- it would mean he wouldn't cry when he did his speech.
I'll put it here, for your posterity- because this blog after-all is for you!

My heart is like a singing bird
                  Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
                  Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
                  That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
                  Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
                  Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
                  And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
                  In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
                  Is come, my love is come to me.

'A birthday' by Christina Rossetti 1857

Now then, before we leave the 'Wonderland' aka Oxford let's finish off with a few more characters and their derision. The Pre-Raphs had a bit of a thing about Wombats. Thomas Woolner emigrated to Australia in the early 1850's mentioning them, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti famously kept one at his Chelsea home.
Legend has it that this Wombat was the 'Dormouse' in our Alice, but this can't have been. Rossetti only got his first pet Wombat ( who was rather sickly and died ) in 1869.

Death of a Wombat- D.G.Rossetti 1869

However, a penchant for Wombats abounded. Dante's sister Christina Rossetti, was a regular visitor to Londons Regents park 'Zoological gardens' and introduced their younger brother William Michael to them. She used Wombats and Ratels to describe creatures in her 'Goblin Market' published in 1859. Interestingly, one of the titles that Dodgson was considering for Alice was 'Alice and The Goblins'.
The most likely of muses for the 'Dormouse' at the 'Mad Tea Party' to my thinking is this;- in 1857, the then famous Dante was commissioned to paint the walls and ceilings in the Oxford Union library.
Assisted by among many- William Morris and Burne-Jones. A young nephew of Julia Margaret Cameron's- Val Prinsep on the enjoyment of the task recalled-
‘Rossetti was the planet around which we revolved, we copied his way of speaking. All beautiful women were “stunners” with us. Wombats were the most beautiful of God’s creatures.’
 So, it seems thought Burne-Jones, who after the walls and windows were covered in white-wash took it upon himself to cover these with Wombat sketches. These haven't survived the test of time, but would have been around notably during Dodgsons library visits, underscored by his friendship with, and visits to- the Rossettis.
It is widely known that the boating party of July 1862 were immortalised in Chapters two and three as the 'Duck' ( Robinson Duckworth ) the 'Lory' ( Lorina Liddell ) the 'Eaglet' ( Edith Liddell ) with Dodgson himself as the 'Dodo'.
So the Dormouse is quite likely to have actually been a Wombat really Emily, and there we will leave our exploration of the creatures in 'Wonderland'. Off next time to the dark-side of 'Through The Looking Glass'.
Here's 'Hatter' again, singing his head off ( 'at a great concert given by the Queen of Hearts' )

'Twinkle, twinkle little bat!
How I wonder what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.'

A toute a l'heure ma petite fille!

GiGi xxx

Amongst credits are Lady Georgiana Burne-Jones Memoir vols 1 and 2

Friday, 1 February 2013

Origin of the species- 'The Mad Hatter'

Dearest Em,

Before we begin on Matters Hatter, we need to explode a few myths;

1. The Mad Hatter was simply The Hatter, 'twas the March Hare who was mad.
2. The Mad bit was added throughout the strands of time. Hatters were supposed to have poisoned their brains with the lead that they worked with on their hat 'lasts'.
3. Our Hatter was called this akin to Ladies getting a bad name and tarnished as 'being no better than a shop girl'.

There has been a theory that the Hatter was based upon an Oxford furniture dealer known as The Mad Hatter who exhibited his 'Registered Alarum Bedstead' which Dodgson would have seen at 'The Great Exhibition', at Crystal Palace in 1851, and would knowing Dodgson's liking for inventions, have caught his attention.

Dodgson also, kept a train of thought going, often for years. So he may well have been influenced by this fellow.

However- my money is on....

Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol Oxford.
Photographed here at Freshwater Bay 
by Julia Margaret Cameron 1864.

I might have mentioned him to you before Emily. He's the chap who stayed here at GiGi's house, every Christmas and Easter holiday, while he worked away at translating 'Plato' and visiting the Tennysons. He taught Hallam and Lionel chess.

Mr Jowett also came in for some disdain from our Dodgson, in 1865 he published an 'anonymous' squib- as Jowett had just received a massive stipend. This was entitled 'The New Method of Evaluation as applied to II.' It carried a motto " Little Jack Horner sat in a corner eating his Christmas pie. "

Benjamin Jowett was an extraordinary person. Shy, pedagogal, driven and a reformer. His background was also extraordinary. Away from his family and living alone in lodgings at eleven years old, while he attended St Pauls and often in the holidays too, he set himself apart from a close clan. There were two scholarly Jowetts, the first- Joseph, was co-incidentally Regus Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge from 1782-1813. 
I say co-incidentally for two reasons. Firstly because he was also remarkable in the family history for a shared set of genes that made up a peculiar physicality in the two Jowetts. He had an 'exquisite falsetto voice' , was given to masculine friendships, looked 'cherubic' with a puny physique running to plumpness, and a calmness in the face of opposition.
The second was that it was only these two Jowetts who did not descend into financial ruin, and followed a scholastic career.

When the Jowett seniors businesses declined, it was expected during this time, that 'one would turn to trade'. Trade generally here meant as a Furrier, or a 'Hatter'.

So, our mocking Dodgson to my mind, used Benjamin as his 'Hatter', giving us a clue as to his singing in 'Alice in Wonderland' ( the Jowetts all sang, relentlessly it seems. )

But also Emily, I must bring in here my growing theory that the Dodgsons knew all this, they knew what Lewis Carroll was about in his writings. ( Maybe, just maybe, that's why certain pages of his diary are still missing? ) Anyhow, his nephew and Biographer Stuart Dodgson Collingwood writes in his 'The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll' thus-

" In Mr Dodgson's mess were Philip Pusey, the late Rev. G.C. Woodhouse, and among others, one who still lives in "Alice in Wonderland" as the 'Hatter'. "

Anyways, our Hatter turns up in 'Through the Looking Glass' as two characters ( think Emily- Red and White Queen stuff ) 'Haigha' and 'Hatta' ( one to fetch and one to carry ) and further as a cameo in Chapter Five 'Wool and Water' where he is described as the King's Messenger, who is in prison, following his expected fate in 'Alice'.

Here is the unfortunate chap, locked up in his prison cell, lamenting:-

Dear Hatter, we wish you well, don't we Emily?

Until next time, your ever-loving Grand-mother GiGi xxx

Credits amongst others, this time:- 'Jowett' by Geoffrey Faber, 'Lewis Carroll Through the Looking Glass' by Angela Carpenter, as the main ones.