Through Lewis Carroll’s Juvenilia and What We Readers Find There

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Kris Iamharit


Long before he adopted his well-known pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, like other child prodigies such as Jane Austen and, his contemporaries, the Brontёs, first tried his hand at authorship in a family magazine produced to entertain a circle of acquaintances. Like other authors’ juvenilia, Carroll’s precocious writing, though it contains fragments of splendid nonsense verse and logic puzzles, short anecdotes and pictures and is characterized by his observance of the social mannerisms that the Victorian era imposed upon children and other facts of interest to him, is worth examining as evidence of his apprenticeship as a writer. Looking at fragmentary works in Useful and Instructive Poetry, The Rectory Magazine, The Rectory Umbrella and Mischmasch and at his biographies, this research paper traces not only the development of Carroll’s writing style and the ideas that preoccupied his mind but also examines how Carroll made use of his uncanny talent in the composition of his famous works of children’s fantasy, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, published in 1865 and 1872 respectively. In other words, through the approach of biographical criticism, the paper aims to elaborate the fact that Carroll’s juvenilia foreshadow his fame as an astute writer of children’s literature forever exemplified by those two Alice books.


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