Tuesday, 30 April 2013

"What good is a book without pictures or conversation?"

Dearest Em,

Alice speaks  those words in Wonderland- and they're quite apt for a strap-line for the exhibition I'm all-about curating right now. So, I thought we'd take a little break from all our hard-work demystifying that clever old Dodgson, and instead just feast our eyes upon some of the many Illustrators of 'Alice' that are coming up to span a hundred and fifty years!
After all, your Grand-mother is simply being inspired by Lewis Carroll herself and responding- and these fantastic Illustrators have been commissioned and then inspired themselves to interpret the story visually. I must say, that they had a difficult task- as all have had to follow Tenniel's very strongly intertwined work that sits so closely with the text it's pretty impossible to forget them when creating a character.

They are all unquestionably quite beautiful work- and an added dimension is that they record the style of their time, each decade of Alice shows a new hairstyle for instance.

It has been a delight taking a first edition of each one, scanning the photos and then blowing them up- seeing them all side by side and out of their books- sets them into a quite different context and they truly are pictures that demand conversation...

Here Emily is a little selection of my favourites in my favourite 'beach setting', with a little about the artist under each one so you can learn too.

Raphael Tuck 1926
Little is known about A L Bowley, although first editions of her 'Alice are highly collectable. Here is a world view diametrically opposite to that of her contemporary Gwynedd Hudson- this is a place without shadows. Cartoon figures and primary colours depict a place where the sun always shines!

Rene Cloke  ( 1905-1995 )
Waverley, 1943
Rene Cloke was born in Plymouth and much of her work was producing postcards and greetings cards. Her book illustrations too are in classic 1940's style. This is work from and for the nursery, her playful depictions of children's toys and child-like animals really set her apart from other illustrators.

Charles Folkard ( 1878-1963 )
A & C Black, 1921
Folkard was the creator of a comic mouse cartoon, Teddy Tail. Predating Disney by ten years. His sense of humour is also seen in the sumptuous colour plates he produced for the gift books so popular in the Edwardian age, a market snuffed out by the Great War.

Helen Oxenbury ( 1938- )
Walker Books 2005
Oxenbury won acclaim for her edition of Alice in Wonderland (Walker, 1999). It is described as "More abundantly illustrated than previous editions ... Alice herself is a child of today – casually dressed, personable and spirited."Alice was named one of the top ten Greenaway Medal-winning works in 2007.

Mervyn Peake (1911- )
Zephyr 1946
Peake was a man who had experienced the death camps of Nazi Germany, and was himself prey to a debilitating illness which eventually reduced him to creative silence. His world is a truly sinister place.
Peake himself wrote of Tenniel " He is embedded in the very fabric of childhood memories."
For me Emily- he has not gone against the ghost of inspiration from Tenniel, and yet has managed to create a signature of his own with them, one that is sympathetic yet 'Peaked' if you understand me!

Arthur Rackham ( 1867-1939 )
Heinemann, 1907
This sumptuous edition was released the year that copyright expired on Tenniel's editions.
Rackham set the story in his own distinct imaginative universe, by turns magical, threatening and comic-his Alice is knowing and in total control, until beset by a pack of flying cards.

Harry Rowntree ( 1878-1950 )
The Children's Press
Harry Rountree came to London from New Zealand in 1901. His 1908 Alice in Wonderland, with 90+ color plates, is considered to be both his masterpiece and one of the definitive versions of the Carroll classic. For me, the illustrations give a clear marketable departure from Tenniel's over-riding influence, and somewhere for Disney to sraw their own inspirations from.

Ralph Steadman  ( 1936- )
Dobson 1967
Steadman's satirical take on Alice was published at the height of the 'Swinging Sixties', a time when Victoriana was being rediscovered and mocked. Steadman's savage penmanship, all blots and spikes, spirits into being a world where certanties are dissolving, and the past is weird and unknowable.

Alice B Woodward ( 1862-1951 )
Bell, 1913
Alice Bolinbroke Woodward was born in Chelsea, and her Father Henry was a leading scientist of the time. Woodward's precocious ability in art and privately funded Artistic education enabled her to practise and hone her skills early on. She illustrated her Father's work too- and hence her fantasy illustrations are marked by their attention to detail and draughtsmanship.
Anthony Browne  ( 1946- )
Julia MacRae Books 1988
Children's Laureate Browne gives us a flattened perspective, heightened reality and surrealistic Alice.

Which one do you like best Emily? When you come down for your Book Launch, you will see tons more! I'm still a Tenniel purist, but who couldn't fall in love with each of these illustrators charming and distinctive styles?

Night night my little one, sleep well and dream of technicolour turtles!

Your ever-loving Grandmother, GiGi xxx

I do not make claim on the copy-right of these images. They belong to their own copyright companies. These are re-produced from first edition books that I own or have been lent for the exhibition only and as an education aid. Please do not reproduce elsewhere.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

How Pleasant to know Mr Lear's work!

Dearest Emily,

It is interesting how, when you are all-about studying something, how some strands of research just ferment away all by themselves- until something new pops up- and it brings all the other strands in to line. This happened today.

In the year I've been dedicating my study to matters Dodgson, even with reading widely, and finding stuff out I never knew before about the 'Alice' books- I still couldn't get a proper handle on him. I couldn't 'feel' who he was exactly and what made him tick. I was beginning to think that this was either par for the course when you are researching ( I've recently been focussing on Florence Becker Lennon's Biography, and she kind of says that at the beginning. ) She says it's like peeling off the layers of an onion, only to find more layers. Which is how I've felt up until this morning...

It began yesterday at the Bookroom. For months I've been picking up a particular book, and not knowing why it held my interest. So, I'd put it back, get on with what I was about, and forget about it- only to return and repeat the process. Then, again whilst preparing the biographies for Dimbola's 'Alice-The Illustrators' exhibition, I came across the book of my fascination and things started to get interesting.
The book is called 'The King of the Golden River' and it's by good old Ruskin ( the one Dodgson was all-jealous-nuts about- who told him he was wasting his time trying to illustrate his own 'Alice'. )

Now we also know, that Dodgson's nose was out of joint with Ruskin because he not only taught the Liddell's to draw, but they invited him round for tea regularly as their friend. Dodgson turned him into the Gryphon as we know- for his sins.
Well Emily, Ruskin's book has the accolade of being the first English Children's Fairy Story- and it came out in 1846.
1846 was also the year that Edward Lear's 'Book of Nonsense' came out.

We also know that Lear was quite a Character- he sang at Salon gatherings in London, he was popular, 
arty and Lord Derby's missive of Grandchildren adored him, The Book of Nonsense was an immediate success. As we've also pondered, Dodgson and Lear are highly likely to have met, and GiGi thinks he's Humpty Dumpty's muse. Yet curiously neither Lear or Dodgson ever mention the existence of the other in any correspondences or diaries...

CLD was fourteen when these two books came out- a time when unhappy away at school- he wrote several correspondences to his sister reviewing countless current affairs and commenting his own opinions on them. Then, before he went up to Oxford, he retreated into the bosom of his family- and diary entries are missing.

Fast-forward to when he was illustrating the original MS for 'Alice' and we see a rather similar style...

Between the years that these two books came out- and the writing of his own Fairy Story- Dodgson had made puppet theatres for his siblings and regularly visited shows ( loving the whole back-stage vibe, and making friends with the Terry family, particularly Ellen ) and told creature-verses to his cousins in Whitby, and generally let everyone know that he knew lots about the Arts and what was on at the time.

Personally Em, I've finally got to where I feel I know what drove him and made him tick. This prim, stuffy Oxford Don, who showed very little interest in teaching his students was actually a frustrated 'Bohemian', and not being noticed or accepted by those he wished to be like- he transferred his Artistic temperament quite simply to the audience who were most willing to participate- little girls. They were entranced by his imagination- his tales, his drawings, his dressing up box, his travelling garb of Top-Hat, black-bag full of toys and clever little tricks. No-one else was. Oxford so did not get him at all.
So when he got chance to publish 'Alice' out came his Edward-Lear-ness in his illustrations- only to have them knocked- fairly and squarely by Ruskin. And so. he employed Tenniel to illustrate instead.

How easily bruised was our aesthete, how full of envy and strife. Instead of releasing the creative prowess he'd showered on siblings and cousins with magic tricks, inventions, tales and rhyme- along-side an acute thirst for the Literary and Theatrical 'new-releases', he'd trodden his Father's chosen path for him- and ended up teaching Maths at Oxford and taken Holy Orders, which caused him angst regarding going to the Theatre.

Poor old Dodgson, he must have trodden a lonely-path. Quintessentially Oxford in word, thought and deed, he actually didn't want to be. A freer spirit was hidden within- but one that could only find release  through watching others, and telling them fantastical tales- ones in which he added social comment, parodied those who had spurned him, and pulled it all together into a simple 'Fairy Story', a very topical theme.

Yet Lewis Carroll's have stood the test of time- never been out of print, and have permeated the English Language.

Posterity gets food from all this work- I'd like to think Dodgson's soul does too!

Until next time Emily,

Your ever-loving Grand-Mother, GiGi xxx

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Little 'Tritease' on Perception and Rivalry...


"Sister, sister, go to bed!
Go and rest your weary head."
Thus the prudent Brother said.
Do you want a battered hide,
Or scratches to your face applied?"
Thus his sister calm repled.

"Sister do not raise my wrath.
I'll make you into mutton broth
As easily as kill a moth!"

The sister raised her beaming eye
And looked on him indignantly
And sternly answered, “Only try!”
Off to the cook he quickly ran.
“Dear Cook, please lend a frying-pan
To me as quickly as you
“And wherefore should I lend it you?”
“The reason, Cook, is plain
to view.
I wish to make an Irish stew.”
“What meat is in that stew to go?”
“My sister’ll be the contents!”
“You’ll lend the pan to me, Cook?”
Moral: Never stew your sister.

Charles L. Dodgson 1845

Dearest Emily,

The sun was at long last shining today, as I opened up the Bookroom, and putting a flier up in the window for our 'Alice' exhibition at Dimbola it amused me to see that the flier was directly in front of a shelf containing all the volumes of Ruskin's 'Modern Painters'.

Considering that our studies here in this blog have revealed how Dodgson felt a rivalry towards Ruskin that culminated in the mockery of him in Carrollian Alice-Malice stylee, I wondered how either might have felt about rubbing shoulders in a bookshop, one and a half centuries later.

Hopefully, they would feel a mutual pride in their legacies- both Literal ( Ruskins 'Truth to Nature' was fast acclaimed as an artistic standard, and Carroll's 'Alice' within a period of twenty years of publication became next to the Bible and Shakespeare the most quoted book in our language ) - and financial- both parties were incredibly benevolent- Ruskin to his causes and Dodgson to his descendents.

As we continue this train of thought Emily, I am filled with Grand-motherly joy about the news that you are soon to have a new brother or sister.

After congratulating your Daddy and Mummy, I said "Uh-oh, I don't suppose Miss Emily will take too kindly to having to share the limelight though", which from what I know of you so far, my little one- I don't suppose that to begin with, you will.

But you'll soon learn and adapt and grow in character and know of all the joys and tribulations that having a sibling can bring. Lucky you Em.

Your Daddy and Uncle Ed have always been very close.

Though five years apart- from the day that Daddy laid eyes on his new little brother, he treated him as though given a present. One that he needed to look out for and protect.

He has also fought with him, yelled at him, and nit-picked and berated most of the thoughts that came out as words from his head. There was quite a bit of sibling rivalry along the way too, I even bought books on the subject to try and parent it properly.

Daddy was in awe of Ed's acting prowess and success, and Ed was envious of Daddy's ability to succeed in the Corporate world.

'Twas ever thus Emily, all over the planet, throughout history.

Some of that rivalry is nonsense- and yet helps to shape our own characters and what we do in life.

Take our Ruskin and Dodgson for example. Not siblings of course, but the rivalry was certainly perceived by Dodgson- and his envy of Ruskin's relationship with the Liddells ( he was their Drawing-Master ) and Ruskin's advice to him that attempts to self-illustrate 'Alice' "were a waste of time", culminated in his being turned into the 'Gryphon' and became an immortal part of the eponymous tales.

Who knows what becomes of that which we do during our lifetimes Emily?

I told Daddy that I had better start writing another book soon, as otherwise you would have one, and your brother or sister would not.

But it also strikes me that I've somewhat spoiled your own perceptions of the 'Alice' stories, before you have had a chance to get embroiled in them- so, I'm wondering what Granny- GiGi can now spoil for your sibling's literary childhood...

Ah well Emily, it's all about perception really, isn't it.

I shall end tonight with the advice I gave to your Daddy and Eddie- "Never let the sun go down on an argument between you". They haven't, but they mess up in other ways just the same!

Plus ca change, plus que c'est la meme chose, ma petite...

Your ever-loving Grand-mother GiGi xxxx

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Oeer Emily! A Strange little Tale from the Bookroom...

Dearest Emily,

We begin at the Bookroom last Wednesday; where knee-deep in knitting and reading over again-'A Town Like Alice'- which I am swallowing whole as I do believe this book speaks the truth about a lot I knew wasn't set at Freshwater- and couldn't previously identify to satisfy my mind during the research thus far.

So, I'm a happy bunny, and thought my next post would be all about this- But no!

Another tangent presented itself- and what a tangent!

It's got me rather amazed, and I very much look forwards to what may transpire...

A lady popped into the Bookroom, and asked me if I would like to buy some books. I told her that it was my boss who bought- and called him and see. He couldn't do it- as the Lady needed it done by friday latest. She looked rather dismayed and I asked ended up agreeing to pop over after work. Armed with two days wages as payment- I asked what I could take for this. I picked, she agreed, then all of a sudden things changed. She was clearly up against things and needed some help. So, I agreed to clear everything for her- which was a mammoth task, and over the next few days running over early morning, unloading and doing the same again for 5 days- my aching arms and the lack of space, left me feeling I'd bitten off a bit more than I could chew.

Anyhow, got it all home and began the big sort through. About half went to the Lifeboat shop. and still having heaps to sift through I began my toil...

Amongst it all was some fascinating stuff, and I set about who should have what. Coming across some military papers- regarding the Battle of Gallipoli and a Captains account of this immediately thinking of someone who would be interested I put them aside.

Then, I gorged myself on old Penguins which I'm uploading for a new Etsy shop- this one's my favourite Em-for obvious reasons!

C'est votre Grand-mere avec Pantoufle n'est pas Emily? ( actually, rather thought you'd like a piccie by now to hold your interest dear girl. )

However- back to the plot. There I am a photographing and describing the books- which becomes a little tedious I must admit. I glance at the military stuff- thinking I will contact the fellow who could be interested, and I see a paper at the end- with the surname 'Wilberforce' catching my eye. Having personally no interest in the military I'd only partly read this through. This particular item, came with the other and is written by the same chap- Captain Farmar in 1939, recounting a very strange tale indeed.
Here it is verbatim ;-

An Appendix

'My Godfather Basil Wilberforce was Archdeacon of Westminster Chaplain to the House of Commons and held in the living of S.John's Westminster at the time he took the marriage service for my wife and myself in S.Pauls, Knightsbridge on the 31st July 1907.

Not long afterwards we were asked by Mrs.Wilberforce to lunch at 20 Deans Yard, Westminster and found the only other guest to be Mr.Daly a member of the Company which was then performing the Play by Bernard Shaw 'John Bulls' Other Island' and who was also a member of the Psychical Research Society.

Mr. Daly had been acting in Dublin and so prevented from accepting the invitation of the Wilberforces to come to 20 Deans Yard the previous Saturday when 24 guests including Lord Balfour and other members of the Society came to hear the narrative to which we listened as it was repeated for the benefit of M.Daly.

The Archdeacon told us that some twenty years previously when he was Rector of St.Mary Southampton he had made the acquaintance of a wealthy Corn-merchant Mr.Richmond who lived near Bristol. He had a private Chapel and used it. Both his family and friends found him to be a little difficult owing to inequalities of temperament and spiritual disturbances: so much so in the case of himself Basil Wilberforce that he discouraged communications and did not hear from Mr. Richmond for some 17 or 18 years. Then suddenly he began to receive letters written ina quiet and restrained manner but which indicated that he was in possession of some thing of mystical value and which he wished to show and talk of to and be advised by Basil Wilberforce.

The result was the gathering at 20 Deans Yard already referred to. A woman medium was present without knowledge of what was to take place or of any of the circumkstances. There were also members of the British Museum staff and a member of the firm of Murano of Venice.

Mr Richmond had told Basil Wilberforce that earlier in the year his mind had frequently been filled with thoughts of Glastonbury and eventually with a clear vision of a locality in which there is a short upright stone near a wall. He was impressed with the idea that there was something there of which he was intended to take care. He described the mental vision to his daughter aged 18 and asked her to go with a friend one Sunday which she did. She recognised the locality and the stone and in the head of this found a hollow covered with a slab and in the cavity a shallow dish or plate wrapped in a modern unmarked napkin. She brought this to her Father who placed it on the Altar of his Chapel.

The vessel was described as round with a centre of deep clear sapphire colour the outer rims shading in concentric circles to the palest blue and being of a different material to the shallow depression of the middle in which there was silver leaf within the substance. It had the appearance of a jewel.

Mr.Richmond and some of his friends had experiences during times of prayer which impelled him to write to Basil Wilberforce.

The vessel was brought to 20 Deans Yard for the seance and at first kept covered. The guests knew mo details when the Medium was entranced. She described the scene of the last Supper and ended by saying 'the door is opened and a woman comes in... and I see it as Our Lady'.

An examination of the Chalice by Experts showed the centre of it to be a kind of clear cloisonne paste which Murano reported to be known as antiquity even in the life time of Joseph of Arimithea and very valuable then. The setting was of glass. Colour deep blue paling to almost white in the outside ring. Mr.Richmond asked that the dish or chalice should be placed in S.Johns Westminster but the Archdeacon thought it should remain in the keeping of Mr.Richmond.

All those to whom these happenings had been confided had been asked to treat them as confidential. However a garbled account was published in the Daily Mail. Following on this Archdeacon Wilberforce received a letter from a Doctor Roberts then practising in Cheltenham to ay that he had placed the chalice where it had been found by Mr.Richmond.

At this juncture a report was received by the Archdeacon to the effect that research is in the archives of Glastonbury had resulted in a possible clue. There is a list of particular valuables which were sent to Italy when the dissolution of the Abbey was thought to be imminent in the reign of Henry V111, and at the head of the list is the entry:

'The Sapphire of Glastonbury".

The dish given by Joseph of Arimithea for Christ to use at the last Supper in the first Communion Service and entrusted by Joseph to the members of the Abbey which he founded at Glastonbury.

The story which came from Dr.Roberts was this:-

His Father was a student of modern occulties, a man of deep religious sense. Qualified as a Doctor, he had ceased to do any medical work when Dr.Roberts began to practise in Cheltenham. They lived together and travelled together when opportunities offered.

Some twenty years previous to the finding of the chalice by Miss Richmond at Glastonbury the two Roberts were at Bordighera. The Elder found the sapphire dish in a Shop and bought it. The seller told him that he himself had only just bought the dish, and almost immediately after it had been in Lombardy, where it must have lain hidden for very many years in the secure hiding place from which it  was carefully packed. A farmer had split a boulder to move it from a furrow and secure a long straight line for his plough. In a rather deep fissure in the boulder had been the package containing the chalice.

The elder Roberts said little to his son beyond the fact that he attached mystical importance to the dish. He put it in a cupboard in his room at Cheltenham and for some years it was never seen by the younger man and in his busy life he did not think about it.

After his Father's death Dr. Roberts was called to Paris on business. Arrived at a Hotel he went to his room with his mind full of what had brought him. He was well and vigorous. Suddenly he suffered from a feeling which he could only describe as complete bodily paralysis while his mind was very alert. He collapsed onto his bed.

For some twenty minutes he lay still while his thoughts dwelt on the subject of the Sapphire chalice. He connected it for the first time in his mind with Glastonbury. And then into his mind came the picture of the place where he intended to lay it.

When his business was done in Paris the memory of the chalice was vivid. The first free week end he used to take the Chalice wrapped in one of his napkins to Glastonbury. He recognised the place of his vision. He hid the Chalice in it. And returned to Cheltenham saying nothing to anyone; as he did not wish his sanity to be questioned.

After absence abroad I saw Mrs.Wilberforce again and asked her if there had been further developments as to the Chalice. Her reply was to the effect that the Archdeacon did not wish to be asked any questions on that subject, it having led to complications, and at the moment he must not be worried.

Well, Emily- sounds like a 'likely story'! But- one that's fairly easy to corroborate at least down to the details. I await contact from the archivist at today's SPR, having had a lengthy chat with the Society today by phone. A story that involves a Prime Minister, and Archdeacon, a Captain, and a mystical bowl holds some interest for me.

Wilberforce is still ringing bells- thoough not this one- I shall report back from the Bookroom when back at the weekend...

And of course, our good old Charles Dodgson was a member of this Society- as indeed was Arthur Conan Doyle at the same time as Balfour.

How could I fail to be interested. Oh, this investigation of dead people takes you on a twisty-turney ride Em. 

Suffice to say, I shan't be calling the fellow who I thought might be interested in the Military papers on our Captain Farmer- these papers need to stay together!

A tout-a-l'heure ma petite,

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxx

Monday, 1 April 2013

Jabberwocky Unbounded

Dearest Emily,

Following our Frabjous Easter Sunday walk, when we pretended we were horses galumphing on the Down,

GiGi had some time today back at the Olde Booke Shoppe, to get back to the serious business in hand- i.e; The Mystery of the Jabberwock.

This poem, I don't know why- has always been a favourite of mine- and I can recite it too. I like the way it sounds like something but you don't know what exactly.

'Twas brillig, and the slithey toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome wraths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjud bird, and shun 
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand
Long time the manxome foe he sought-
So he rested by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgy wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two, One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

And hast though slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh, Callay!
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig and the slithey toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

So, that's the deal. But where did the story originate in Dodgson's febrile imagination Em?  I knew somehow that there was no point looking for this at Freshwater- in fact all the creatures don't seem to belong here. But I did feel that they had something to do with his childhood home and also the P.R.B's and Whitburn.

I set my thoughts aside- the time will come when all will be revealed I felt. Six weeks ago, I heard about a book that claimed a lot of character-setting in Sunderland- which interested me. However, I could not find a copy of the book anywhere for love nor money, until one came up at a Library in Durham. So I sought out an inter-library order to borrow it.

Then I forgot all about it ( and unfortunately the books I took out that day ) and so when I went along to pick it up- it was rather an expensive outing!

Here's the book Emily...

'A Town Like Alice's' by Michael Bute. The cover isn't dissimilar in design to mine, and I couldn't wait to start reading it.

Here's the info gleaned from it on the origins of the Jabberwocky. I've quoted a lot verbatim- as it's all in there;

The Legend of the Lambton Worm-

An Anglo-Saxon 'Wyrm' meant a dragon or a snake. In the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf; the dragon is called the Wyrm, and in nearly all the legends abounding in the North of England the worm was a monster of vast size and power. Bram Stoker also discussed the possibilities of the existence of these creatures in the Lair of the White Worm.

Many Churches in England like the one in the ancient village of Sockburn-on-Tees show worms being killed, and all of the Christian Saints to whom the killing of the dragon came to be attributed are Saints Michael, George and Catherine.

The Legend of the Lambton Worm has been recounted for centuries, puzzled over, dismissed as fiction or explained away as allegory.

Surtees wrote the 'History of Durham' in 1820 and traces John Lambton 'Knight of Rhodes' through five generations.

The second John Lambton, in the 13th Century, spent his Sundays fishing in the river Wear. He flung a catch of a worm 'of most unseemly and disgusting appearance' into a nearby well ( now known as the Worm Well. )

Allegedly, whilst the young Lambton was away fighting the Crusades, the worm moved onto the left bank of the river, and Lambton heard tales of the creature devastating the countryside- and all attempts to kill it proved abortive- since it had the power of re-uniting itself.

In 'Through the Looking Glass', Alice tries to make sense of the poem of the Jabberwocky. She says "I've cut several slices already, but they always join on again!"

On the advice of a Witch ( often good Emily, ) Lambton was told to stud his armour with spear-blades and put his trust in his crusading sword.

" He took his vorpal sword in hand, long time the manxome foe he sought"

Lancellyn Green ( Carroll's diary editor ) quoting Stuart Collingwood- states that the verse of Jabberwocky was written initially at Croft in 1855 ( Dodgson's family home- which makes sense to me  ) and added to whilst he was staying with cousins Wilcox at Whitburn near Sunderland. He suggests that the party included a mutual cousin- Menella Bute Smedley. Menella had advised Dodgson on early writings and assisted him in publications in the 'Train' and 'Comic Times'.

On one of the evenings during the visit a verse making game was held, and Jabberwocky was added to as Dodgsons contribution- intertwining the Lambton worm tale with a parody of Menella's much longer versification of a German legend 'The Shepherd of the Giant Mountains'.

In 1867, the 'Ballad of the Lambton Worm' was re-written by CM Leumane- so it was something still held topical by our Mid-Victorian focus-group.

Dodgson closely held on each word that Menella gave to him, and on the 22nd November 1871, a month before the conclusion of Through the Looking Glass that year, states in his diary-
'Heard from Menella Smedley approving of the little Christmas adddress I had sent in manuscript.'
The address with which he had introduced Alice Through the Looking Glass in a four page pamphlet, being the book which begins with the verse of Jabberwocky ( and Emily, was set to also be illustrated with Tenniels drawing of same- except Dodgson having sent it to various Mothers for comment, deemed too scary for children to open with. )

So, there we are Emily, the origins of the Jabberwocky are placed here in Dodgson's early home years, and I can clearly imagine his taste for local legend and tale.

More-over, I am excited that the journey we are taking is now leading us on to the creatures in both the Alice books ( remember the old P.R.B appreciating Ruskin who was turned into the Gryphon? ) and as we begin a new twist to the tale...

As if by magic, here at the Bookroom today...

A Gentleman was browsing the bookshelves as I scribbled notes for todays post, and as I was finishing serving somebody, he came over and said...

" So are you a Teacher? "

" No" I replied.

" So, what are you writing? "

I briefly summarised that I had written a book for my Grand-daughter, and that now I had finished it- had moved on to the creatures in Lewis Carroll's books.

" Oh", he says. " He wasn't very successfull was he?".

" Depends on how you look at it " says I  recounting Dodgson's pecuniary success, and as I am finding out ( to be recounted later ) also quite legendary benevolence financially.

Off goes said gent, telling me he has just read a bit about him in the Topography section- which he will find and show me what he meant.

Why THANK-YOU un-named Gentleman, who dropped Arthur Mee's 'The Kings England- Surrey 1938' onto my desk, from which I paraphrase here:-

Dodgson...'Took orders, but never entered the Church... He did preach from time to time, sometimes to undergraduates, but more commonly to Christ-Church servants and to children'

Etc, then-

'There were two Dodgsons, in temperament and in name... He developed into as whimsical a crank as any of the deathless company in his pages, not only in his dealings with other men, but in his work.'

And, last but not least Em, regarding this post in particular- a golden nugget to back-up Dodgson's early interest in worms stands clear in this paragraph-

' At Oxford, his genius for mathematics carried him to the foremost place; but for history and philosophy he had no taste or talent. He revealed the profoundest ignorance of Herodotus, and the examiner at last said "Well, Mr Dodgson, is there any fact mentioned by Herodotus that you do remember?"
At that Dodgson brightened up, and named with much satisfaction a Libyan tribe of which the historian recoreded nothing but that they had painted themselves red and ate apes. That came home to him indeed, for he had many friends amongst the frogs and snails of his father's parsonage, and armed worms with tiny tubes with which to conduct defensive war'.

Well, Emily, who knew?

And, with which today, I rest my utterly serendipitous case!

Sleep well, my precious,

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxxx