Lewis Carroll An Illustrated Biography by Derek Hudson (1954)

Loosen your clothing and keep the airways free for this one.

In October 1950, Reverend G Edward Charlesworth was having his Croft Rectory in Yorkshire renovated.

When they pulled up the floor in what used to be Charles Dodgson’s [Lewis Carroll’s] nursery on the second storey, they came across a child’s secret stash of little bits and pieces.

Here are three of the treasures they pulled out. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably. Brandy balloon in reach.

One left shoe.

Holy cats.

Remember the White Knight’s song in Through the Looking-Glass?

And now if e’er by chance I put

My fingers into glue

Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot

Into a left-hand shoe…

Oh, Lordy. Fetch the smelling salts.

One white glove.

Lawks.

Remember the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, splendidly dressed, with a pair of white kid gloves in one hand and a large fan in the other?

Then he drops them. Alice picks them up and forgets about them until she finds, oddly, that she’s wearing one after she’s shrunk.

I can’t remember what happened to them after that, but do recall him looking for them, muttering, “Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She’ll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets!

I think one of the meanie queenie’s favourite punishments was to cut off someone’s whiskers. (Didn’t she threaten the Dormouse with as much in court later?)

Then the White Rabbit tells her to go to his house and get him some more gloves and she does and drinks that potion and gets bigger and bigger and bigger and stuck. Or something.

One thimble.

Mercy. Back in a sec, running a cold bath.

Remember, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the prize-giving after that absurd Caucus-race and Alice gives them all a comfit and there isn’t one left for her?

“But she must have a prize herself, you know,” said the Mouse.

“Of course,” the Dodo replied very gravely. “What else have you got in your pocket?” he went on, turning to Alice.

“Only a thimble,” said Alice sadly.

“Hand it over here,” said the Dodo.

They they all crowded round her once more while the Dodo solemnly presented the thimble, saying “We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble;” and, when it had finished this short speech they all cheered.

Doorbell. That’ll be my therapist.

Thanks for being here.

Buy Lewis Carroll, An Illustrated Biography by Derek Hudson

(Illustration by John Tenniel.)

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Guy Nicholls

Writer and book bore.

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