I don’t read nearly as much non-fiction as I should, and hardly any biographies. Usually when I do read biographies I start off with enthusiasm only to flail and fall flat about 70-100 pages in (aka. get bored).
Not so with this all to readable new biography of Lewis Carroll, which I chanced upon when I heard it serialised on the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week strand. It’s actually more, the story of the real Alice (or Alices) behind the Wonderland book, and through her the life of the man who wrote, photographed, and adored her.
Lewis Carroll was clearly an odd kind of character, and there has been much that has been speculated about what his motives and actions were, particularly when it comes to the blanked out and removed sections to his journals. That he loved children, it is without doubt, but through reading this account of his life, I think it is clear that he loved children only so far as either in relation to the time in which he lived (girls married much younger often to older men), or to that he was still very much a child himself in the world. To read anything further or untoward, is I think wrong.
Particularly in the first two parts of this book which deal with Before, and During Alice, it is packed with the most quoteable lines and insights, to feed your own Oxford/Alice/Wonderland stories. It’s a biography to make you want to read or re-read the two Alice books, time, and time again.