The Secret World of Lewis Carroll (2015) Movie Script

150 years ago,
this book was published.
It would become one of the greatest
children's stories ever,
and it all began here.
One summer's day,
the Reverend Charles Dodgson
took ten-year-old Alice Liddell
and her sisters
on a boat trip along
the River Thames.
The girls were absolutely
enchanted by his stories,
and the power of Carroll's
has enthralled millions of readers,
from John Lennon, to James Joyce.
Alice, hands down for me,
is number one, always has been.
It's absolutely a magical ride.
In terms of children's literature,
a revolutionary book.
And it's unlike, of course,
anything that had ever been
written for children before.
The book is fantastic and brilliant.
I would give it five stars.
It's good.
They say that after
the Bible and Shakespeare,
Lewis Carroll is
the most potent author on Earth.
These are the foreign language
editions of Alice.
We have Aborigine here,
the French, German, Japanese.
Only a handful of people
would have known at the time
that Charles Dodgson,
a maths don at Christchurch, Oxford,
was also Lewis Carroll.
And the inspiration for the book
was a real Alice -
Alice Liddell,
the dean's daughter.
For years, the relationship between
Carroll and Alice Liddell
has been the subject of speculation.
I think he was in love with her,
but I don't think he would have
admitted that to himself.
Carroll's reputation has also been
dogged by questions
about his child friends,
and the photographs he took of them.
That is quite disturbing. It is.
That's a little girl
in a very adult pose.
And in the course of our research,
we've uncovered new material
that adds to this controversy.
My gut instinct is it's by Lewis
Carroll. What was really going on?
Who knows?
So, what was it that led to the
creation of Carroll's masterpiece,
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland,
and what are we to make of
the controversies surrounding him?
You probably recognise Christchurch
as the dining hall at Hogwarts,
and in fact Lewis Carroll,
who taught here, created
the Harry Potter of his day.
So, how did this rather dry
mathematics lecturer
manage to create
such a fantastical world?
And what was the nature of his
relationship with the real Alice?
It's Alice Day in Oxford.
Every 4th of July,
they celebrate the day, in 1862,
when Lewis Carroll
told Alice and her sisters
the story of Alice In Wonderland.
I'm clearly Alice.
And I'm the Mad Hatter.
Mad Hatter, March Hare and Alice.
Everyone in here like...Alice.
Alice. Yes.
We all know the story, don't we?
Alice is getting very tired
of sitting by her sister
on a river bank,
when suddenly a white rabbit
with pink eyes ran close by her.
Either she falls asleep,
or she follows a white rabbit,
who leads her down a hole.
It's ambiguous.
She finds herself in an underground
chamber with a tiny little door.
And the key was on the table
and she couldn't reach it.
She sees a bottle with the words
"DRINK ME" on it.
And she goes through
all sorts of nasty experiences.
Then she met the Cheshire Cat.
Alice go to a tea party.
Tea party. Yes. Yes.
She meets this strange character.
That'd be me.
Erm, who's a bit...deluded.
Alice, um, got a bit stressed
because they were being so mad.
Then there is
a weird game of croquet.
The cards were, like,
painting the roses red.
Eventually, Alice loses her temper.
And she comes out at the end saying,
"You're nothing
but a pack of cards!"
Well, don't ask me
about Alice In Wonderland.
I'm just here for the fun!
I love this book. I always have.
I was just captivated
by Lewis Carroll's completely
surreal imagination,
and transported off to Wonderland.
I even played Alice when I was
a young girl, in the village play.
'This is where I grew up.
'Ditchling, in Sussex.
'When I was 11, the village
put on a version
'of Alice Through The Looking Glass,
'and I'm on my way back
for a reunion.'
Strange sensation. I do remember you,
I remember both of you.
I thought I might not,
but I really do. Yes, absolutely.
Well, I can't say you don't look a
day older, but...
There's actually a recording
of the production over here.
TAPE: 'This is the
Ditchling Players' performance
'of Alice Through
The Looking Glass, January 1969.'
YOUNG GIRL: 'Of course...'
INDISTINC 'Well, here I am.
'I'm getting very tired.
Where is Humpty Dumpty?
'ALL: He's here!'
I'm not sure I like listening
to my own voice back nowadays,
let alone when I was 11!
It feels very...
But what is really charming is
hearing the audience laughing. Yes.
And really, you know, enjoying it.
Yes, they certainly loved it.
# The Walrus and the Carpenter
# Were walking close at hand... #
I had no idea I was acting in such
a psychedelic production. No!
Alice broke box office records.
In Ditchling!
"There was a...general praise
for ten-year-old Martha Kearney,
who plays Alice.
"This was a performance
that will be remembered
in Ditchling for some time."
And this is, yes, this was the one
that was used a lot,
wasn't it, to play the...
Yes, that's why it's almost... of chess.
Very much, kind of, Lewis Carroll's
amazing imagination
to have a game as the centre
of it all.
He does that in Alice's Adventures
In Wonderland, as well.
There's playing cards there. Yes.
He loves that idea of playing games.
I'm 57, and I first read the book
when I was seven years old,
and I have read it every year,
at least once, since then,
so I've read it a minimum 50 times.
It's possible that my character,
Lyra, is a descendant of Alice,
in that she's a matter-of-fact child
in a world of large and strange
things she doesn't fully understand.
So, probably I stole that, yes.
So, why has this book
captivated children -
and adults actually -
for 150 years?
Alice In Wonderland endures
because it is universal literature.
It captures, brilliantly,
how a child responds
to the world at a time
when some of the categories
that unfortunately
we start to take for granted when
we're a bit older
are yet fluid.
So, the barriers
between dream and reality,
all of these remain porous in Alice
and he grasps, beautifully,
what the psychology
of that situation is like.
It was in the corner of this famous
quad at Christchurch,
right over there, that Lewis Carroll
wrote down his story
Alice In Wonderland.
It's now actually
an internet cafe for students.
And over here
was where Alice Liddell lived.
She was the Dean's daughter,
and the inspiration for the book.
Little did Alice know that the story
would come to dominate her life.
In 1932, as an old lady,
she visited New York, where she was
captured on film for the first time.
It is a great honour and a great
pleasure to come over here.
And I think now
my adventures overseas
will be almost as interesting
as my adventures underground were.
So, how did those
adventures come to be created?
It really began here in Oxford,
when Lewis Carroll
first met Alice Liddell.
She was around four at the time.
He was 24,
a newly qualified maths don.
It was a relationship which
seems unusual, to say the least,
to modern eyes.
He was dry, methodical,
Alice Liddell said that he looked
as if he had a poker stuck up him,
he was, you know, so upright.
Everything was, you know,
neat, fixed, orderly.
It's hard not to think of him as
someone who had a mild form of OCD.
In those days, dons at Christchurch
had to take Holy Orders,
and they had to be celibate,
so Charles Dodgson became
the Reverend Dodgson,
though he never converted
to full priesthood.
If he had become a full priest,
he may be encouraged
to take on a parish,
and he would have
found that pretty daunting.
He had a speech impediment,
and so reading a service
was not easy for him.
His mouth would open,
but the words wouldn't come out.
Carroll spent almost his entire
adult life a bachelor don,
behind the cloistered walls
of Christchurch,
and even though
he wrote both the Alice books here,
he kept his identity secret.
He instructed the porters
at Christchurch
to return to sender any letters
that came to "Lewis Carroll".
He also, though he was a very
keen photographer,
he didn't like being
photographed himself.
That probably was because he didn't
want people to recognise him
in the street, he didn't want fans
coming up to him.
Carroll was more
than a keen photographer,
he was a pioneer of a new art form.
He took hundreds of photographs,
of writers, friends, artists,
and celebrities.
But one person stands out
above all others.
There is no photographic image
of Alice
which is not arresting, startling.
Like, you know, the people
who nowadays become supermodels,
who the camera is in love with.
'It was when Lewis Carroll
was working in the library
'at Christchurch that
he first spotted Alice,
'playing with her sisters
in the deanery next door.'
So, this is his office
when he was a sub-librarian. Right.
As you can see,
book line is quite impressive,
but even more impressive...
Yes, serious leather tomes.
No, no, even better than that,
look, this is the view.
That's a beautiful walled garden.
So, that is where he would almost
certainly have first seen Alice.
Alice Liddell,
for the very first time,
because that's
where the Liddells lived.
That's where they lived, and that's
where the girls were playing.
Alice's father was appointed
Dean of Christchurch,
which, at the time,
was THE place to go.
They were a glamorous family,
they had parties,
they had musical evenings,
they were friends with royalty.
Lewis Carroll was really drawn
to all three girls initially,
because they were all photogenic,
and...upper class.
He had just got his first camera,
and a friendship developed,
really, with him trying
to get them to sit for photographs.
As you might expect
for such a meticulous man,
Lewis Carroll
kept very detailed diaries,
and here's an interesting entry
for April the 25th, 1856.
He was on a visit to the deanery.
"The three little girls were
in the garden most of the time,
"and we became excellent friends.
"We tried to group them
in the foreground of the picture,
"but they were not patient sitters.
"I mark this day
with a white stone."
And that's what Carroll always does
when it's a particularly
special day.
They became tremendous friends,
all three girls,
even though Alice was, obviously,
singled out as the special one.
She was pushy, imperious,
"shaking her hair",
he always used to say...
shaking the fringe out of her
face, and bossing everyone around.
Under here is one of the original
plates shot by Lewis Carroll,
and I'm going to be
allowed to have a look,
but obviously, it's incredibly
valuable and very delicate.
Oh, and I put on the lights,
so I'll be able to see it.
Oh, my goodness!
This is fantastic.
What I'm looking at is a negative,
and here she is
at around six years old.
You get the sense
of a rather strong personality,
a self-possessed little girl.
She was a beautiful child.
She had an assurance that her
sisters didn't.
Her older sister, in particular,
didn't like being photographed,
she found it really
but you can imagine Alice loving it.
He would go over to the deanery
and entertain the children.
And he would be in the nursery,
the governess was probably there,
and he would teach them
magic tricks,
and he would read stories to them.
He would go almost every day,
and, of course, he would have
the girls to his rooms, as well.
Oh, he got really quite
involved in their lives.
And they went out on outings.
It seems an almost continuous
round of being with them.
And then, as they got to an age
where they could leave
the confines of Christchurch,
he organised boat trips.
And so began one of the most famous
boat trips in literary history,
as Carroll and his friend Robinson
Duckworth took Alice, Edith
and Lorina Liddell
up the River Thames to Godstow.
Hi! Hi.
Martha. I'm Mark.
Hi, Mark, good to see you.
This is Tom, who's going to...
Hi, Tom. You're doing all the hard
work, aren't you? That's it.
Well, I'm very much looking forward
to retracing the steps.
And this is...?
Is this the same boat yard?
It is, yes. It's the same
family-run company.
Here we go. Well, I've managed the
first stage, I haven't fallen in!
Well, indeed. You're setting
a very good precedent!
It wasn't the first time
that Carroll told them stories,
by any means, but the crucial
difference that day was that Alice,
for whatever reason, pleaded
with him to write the stories down.
Alice asked him,
"Tell me a story! Tell me a story!"
and he would lean on his oars
and go,
"No, not this time, next time,"
and the girls would say, "It is
next time now, tell me a story!"
So, he unwillingly began on
the story of Alice In Wonderland.
He clearly was making it up
as he went along.
He had no notes, he hadn't planned
it, he just started the story
of Alice following the White Rabbit
down a rabbit hole.
And we have her own account,
don't we, of what happened that day,
here in the first biography
of Lewis Carroll.
And she says, "I believe the story
of Alice
"was told one summer afternoon
when the sun was so burning
"that we'd landed in the meadows
down the river,
"deserting the boat to take refuge
"in the only bit of shade
to be found,
"which was under
a new-made hay rick."
The story Carroll told them
wasn't all make-believe,
it was also full of in-jokes
and references to real places,
like this, the famous Treacle Well,
not far from the river.
It's a real place, Treacle Well is
a real place. Exactly, here it is.
They must have loved it,
because it's a scene,
isn't it, from the mad tea party,
and when he says, "Once upon a time
there were three little girls,"
this is the Dormouse, "and their
names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie,
"and they lived at the bottom of
the well." That's code, isn't it?
Indeed. "Lacie" is an anagram for
Alice herself,
"Elsie", if you break that to
the two capital letters, "LC",
you get "Lorina Charlotte".
The older sister.
The older, exactly. And then,
"Tillie" was the family nickname
for the younger daughter, Edith.
So, all three of them are there.
The journey ended
four miles upstream,
with a picnic on the river bank
at Godstow.
Alice was beginning to get
very tired
of sitting by her sister
on the bank.
Here we are on the bank.
Yes, yes, and I think, you know,
the reality of that day
is reflected probably
in that first line,
and even what happens next,
you know, Alice seeing the rabbit,
the White Rabbit, go down
the rabbit hole, and then following.
There are still rabbits to be seen
on this part of the Thames bank.
Here we have Lewis Carroll's
own account
of that famous golden afternoon
on July 4th, 1862.
"Duckworth and I made an expedition
up the river to Godstow
"with the three Liddells."
Now, on the other page,
he writes later,
and he says, "on which occasion
I told them the fairy tale
"of Alice's Adventures Underground,
"which I undertook
to write out for Alice."
She was the one who nagged him
to tell the story,
so, in that sense,
she was the crucial one.
It took him I think a year or so,
but eventually he did
write it down for her,
and he presented it to her
as a Christmas present.
He had written it out
by hand himself,
and then drawn all the pictures.
And this is it, the original version
of the children's masterpiece,
Alice's Adventures Underground.
And just look at the detail
in this, I mean,
it's like an illuminated manuscript,
it's so lovingly done.
Over here we have the large Alice,
she's grown so big,
and next to her, the White Rabbit.
I think it's intriguing,
the way that Lewis Carroll
has drawn this picture himself,
because it's almost like
the White Rabbit is a kind of suitor
to the much bigger
and more formidable Alice.
And he's ended it with a photograph,
which he's taken, of Alice,
on the very last page, but in fact
what was discovered later on,
underneath that, there's
a drawing that he made himself.
In keeping with his obsessive
there are no mistakes
in this manuscript.
No crossings out, no blotches.
Carroll practised his layout
and his drawings in advance.
Here you've got a real rabbit
that he drew
from a naturalist handbook,
and as he develops it
it gradually metamorphoses
into a fairy-tale rabbit.
But with a rather sad face,
he's hunched over,
something of a kind of
mournful characteristic.
What do we have here?
So, this is a number of faces.
So, this is Carroll's
version of Alice.
She's looking slightly dreamy,
slightly distracted,
slightly distant.
Yes, slightly plaintive, here.
Almost all the characters
seem to be slightly mournful,
and that might just be he's not
very good as an artist,
or it might be that there's
something about Wonderland
in which the characters
seem to be trapped there,
as if, for them,
it's like an open prison.
Because it's
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland,
they're just there as extras. Hm.
After encouragement from friends,
and making the most
of his connections to the publisher
Alexander Macmillan,
Carroll decided
that Alice should go into print.
He'd already been thinking
of a new name for his book.
I love this bit, he's playing around
with which title to have.
"Alice's Hour In Elfland",
question mark.
The masterpiece
could have been called that.
Then he has "Alice's Adventures
In Wonderland", question mark.
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland
was published in 1865.
The timing couldn't have
been better.
David Copperfield,
Great Expectations,
The Water-Babies,
all published in the same era.
This is the moment when Victorian
literature finds the child,
so the child is coming
really into focus,
which is the moment
where Carroll produces
this astonishing dream book.
And here it is,
the final published version
of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.
You can just see the amount
of trouble that Lewis Carroll
has taken in his whole
involvement in this book.
For example, the colour.
Here, this is The Water-Babies,
also published by Macmillan,
but in the fairly standard
dark green cover.
Lewis Carroll was
adamant that he wanted red.
Red was the colour that was going
to appeal to children.
But what's particularly interesting
is the fact that there
are stories in here
that aren't
in his original manuscript,
the gift that he made
to Alice Liddell.
So, the most famous episode of all,
really, the mad tea party,
that wasn't in the original version,
but it is here.
Best of all, we have illustrations
by John Tenniel,
who's the famous Punch illustrator
who Lewis Carroll persuaded
to illustrate his book.
We mustn't underestimate
the importance of Tenniel
in the success of these books.
They are sensationally
good illustrations,
and he was very particular and
he sent them back again and again.
Tenniel must have got a bit
fed up with him at the end.
The other thing is, they're
in the middle of a lot of text.
Like this one, for example, the
story flows around the illustration.
It does make a huge difference,
to have the illustrations
as part of the page, rather than a
separate little page on their own.
And then, something which must have
seemed so innovative at the time,
is that famous bit of the story,
which is the Mouse's Tale.
And here, we have the original
that would have been used
to print the drawings.
So, you can see the difficulty
the typesetter must have had
in getting it going right down
the page,
just like a mouse's tail.
And here's the plate with
the Cheshire Cat illustration,
and you can really see the kind of
detail that John Tenniel used
in order to produce one of the most
famous images from Alice.
Alice, the first female lead
in children's literature,
and the most memorable.
She's very self-confident,
isn't she?
She's wonderfully untroubled
by the bizarre circumstances
in which she finds herself.
Alice is the voice of common sense.
If you had a crazy character
as the protagonist in a crazy world,
where's the difference,
where's the story?
She's quite feisty,
she's quite funny.
And she challenges
the creatures all the time.
She challenges!
And she challenges everything
that she's expected
to obey in real life.
In some other ways,
she keeps her composure,
and that makes her a very
unusual heroine.
What other child heroine
from the 19th century is like that?
Jane Eyre? Not many.
It's hard to appreciate
just how revolutionary a book
Alice In Wonderland was.
This is an example of the sort
of thing that was popular before.
This is The History
Of The Fairchild Family.
No pictures,
there are some conversations,
but mostly of
the finger-wagging variety,
and there's one episode near
the beginning which is notorious.
The father notices the children
have been quarrelling,
and to show them they shouldn't
quarrel, what does he do?
Take their toys away? No. Send them
to bed without any supper? No.
He takes them to a gallows
to see an executed criminal,
who's rotting in his chains.
One of the things I really
like about Carroll's book
is the way that it's subversive
about those sort of preachy books.
There's a fantastic bit here,
where Alice is trying to decide
whether to drink that famous bottle,
and she says...
She wanted to see
if it was marked poison or not,
"for she had read several
nice little histories
"about children who got burnt,
and eaten up by wild beasts,
"and many other unpleasant things,
all because they would not remember
"the simple rules their friends
had taught them,
"such as a red-hot poker will burn
you if you touch it." You know?
Exactly. And yet, she goes ahead and
drinks it anyway. Yes.
You know? She's a rebel.
She is a rebel.
The irony, of course,
is that this rebel
was created by a man
who positively embraced order.
It's the mark of someone
who loves rules,
and he loves smashing them up.
The croquet game
breaks all the rules.
The hoops move,
the mallets are flamingos.
The caucus race would be
another example,
all have won
and all shall have prizes.
And somebody that rule-bound
seems to be very excited
about when the rules can be broken.
I think it's very interesting,
the original circumstances in which
he starts telling the story.
I mean, in the boat,
it was going up the river.
Carroll wasn't the only person
rowing, his academic colleague
from Trinity College, Robinson
Duckworth, was rowing stroke,
so he had to
speak to Robinson Duckworth
as well as to Lorina and Alice
and Edith.
And therefore a lot of the jokes
appeal to a fellow academic,
they're jokes about philosophy,
and logic, and mathematics.
There's some wonderful
pieces of logic in this book.
"'But I don't want to go among
mad people,' Alice remarked.
"'Oh, you can't help that,'
said the Cat, 'we're all mad here.
"'I'm mad, you're mad.' 'How do
you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
"'You must be,' said the Cat,
'or you wouldn't have come here.'"
The other thing is,
it's pretty frightening.
It's a strange,
almost nightmarish, world.
I remember Alice growing her neck
very tall
really freaked me out,
because they are freaky.
That terror that you have of falling
down a hole
and you don't know whether you're
ever going to reach the bottom,
that's something that is very,
very strong in a child's memory.
Alice's encounters with
the weird creatures of Wonderland
are actually a much
more literal account of what adults
look like to children
than we, as adults, like to think.
And the fact that they shout
you don't understand like,
"Off with his head!"
which isn't that different
to "Go to your bed!"
I think it was Virginia Woolf
who said that Carroll
could remember much more vividly
what childhood felt like
than most of us can
once we've ceased to be children.
So, are there clues in Carroll's
own childhood
that help us understand this special
empathy with children?
He was born in Warrington, in 1832.
His father was a clergyman
in the village of Daresbury.
Carroll was the eldest son,
and he was surrounded by,
well, by little girls.
There were two brothers,
but lots and lots of sisters.
When Carroll was 11,
the family moved to a large rectory
near Darlington.
He kept his siblings entertained
with home-made magazines
full of stories and cartoons.
He became their leader
and entertainer.
He had a natural talent
in storytelling.
'Over 100 years later,
an amazing discovery was found
'under the floorboards of
what was then the nursery.'
A little handkerchief.
Oh, how lovely.
Oh, this is a letter
from his mother,
that is his mother's handwriting,
and so he's copied that.
And I suppose, that's one of real
clues to show that this
really did belong to
the Dodgson family. Exactly. Yes.
That's a little teapot lid.
Well, a teapot lid, of course! Yes!
Mad Hatter's tea party. Yes.
And then we have a white glove.
A white glove.
Like the White Rabbit.
Yes, just like the glove which
the poor White Rabbit kept losing,
didn't he, during the story?
No doubt.
And there, a little thimble.
The thimble!
Which we know this,
don't we, from the Alice story,
from the caucus race. Yes.
Here, we have three little glimpses
of some of the stories that
were yet to come, haven't we?
We've got
the Mad Hatter's tea party,
the thimble from the caucus race,
and a glove. A glove.
We don't know exactly when these
treasures were planted, or by whom,
but whenever it was, it's as though
Carroll was telling us something
not just about Alice's Adventures In
Wonderland, but also about himself.
By the time he arrived
at Christchurch,
he may have left his
childhood behind,
but he carried the idea of it
with him, and from then on,
children and child friends would
remain at the centre of his life.
Well, he's supposed to have said
that they were three quarters
of his life,
and I do think they were
very important to him,
and I think he saw them partly as
a sort of refuge against the...
from the adult world.
When Carroll wrote
to his child friends,
he wrote as one of them.
His letters are mini works of art,
like this letter with
pictures instead of words,
or this one written in the shape
of a spiral,
or this, where
he's pretending to be afraid.
This was a man who came alive
in a different sense with children.
But what exactly was going on
with Carroll's relationship
with children,
and what was the nature of
the relationship with Alice Liddell?
Despite the wonder of his books,
these are the questions
that always hang over Carroll,
and this is where the arguments
begin amongst Carroll experts.
He once asked Alice for
a lock of her hair.
Was that a lover's token?
Today, we may well think that
a lock of hair is a love token.
I mean, what did it mean, then?
I mean, she was just a young girl,
so I think it's really...
It's very difficult to describe.
I mean, the character of the man
is one that enjoyed the friendship
of children,
but there is no sense of
a love interest in this at all.
He was emotionally involved, there's
just no question about that,
and that's why I can't bear these
critics who say that he was...
he only had a paternal interest
in the girls. That won't do!
I think he WAS in love with her...
..but I don't think he would have
admitted that to himself.
What makes Alice In Wonderland,
I would argue, such a powerful book,
the very fact of Carroll's
attraction to Alice.
Among the photographs Carroll
took of Alice
in the deanery garden is this one,
still controversial to this day.
It shows Alice dressed
as a beggar maid,
with her ragged dress
falling off her shoulder.
It's quite a challenging
look, isn't it?
It's a very challenging look,
and the fact that you can just see
one of her nipples
is something that a lot of viewers
find slightly disturbing,
as if there is a little flash
of sexuality there.
It looks a little as if
it's a kind of come-on gesture,
but the fact that she's
holding her hand to her body
is because, in photography,
if she was outstretched,
that would shake, and that would
blur the picture, no other reason.
Would it have been as disturbing
to a Victorian audience?
Taking photographs of middle-class
children dressed up,
this was an absolutely
standard piece of acting out,
but it's the most famous one
because, as you say,
the gaze pins us,
and we don't know how to read her.
The picture may be ambiguous,
but one thing is certain,
the special friendship
between Carroll and Alice Liddell
resulted in one of the greatest
children's books ever written.
And yet, by the time
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland
was published, that friendship
had come to an abrupt end.
A year or so after the boat trip
to Godstow,
in June 1863 something happened,
and Lewis Carroll was exiled
from the deanery.
To find out what happened,
the obvious place to come
would be here, to his diaries,
but when you look inside,
pages are missing.
And just looking along here, you can
see where there's been a razor cut.
When his nieces
inherited his diaries,
they cut out a number of pages,
and we have to put bits and pieces
to try to think of what might
have happened in the deanery.
For five months following
this apparent rift,
there's no mention of the
Liddell girls in the diaries at all,
until we come to December the 5th,
and there's a theatrical evening.
At the very end of that day,
Lewis Carroll writes,
"Mrs Liddell and the children
were there,
"but I held aloof from them,
as I have been all this term."
"Held aloof",
such an interesting phrase.
What was really going on?
It's my theory that Alice's mother
was the cause of the split.
Carroll's manner grew
too affectionate to Alice.
Alice's mother was a dreadful snob,
she was known as
the "Kingfisher" in Oxford,
and she wanted kings, princes,
earls, dukes, for her daughters.
So, she stamped on it, and she burnt
all the letters
that Alice had received from Dodgson
in the wastepaper basket
in the deanery.
Is there evidence of that?
My grandfather mentions
that it happened, yes,
it's a story in my family.
So, was Carroll's attachment to
Alice the cause of the rift?
It's possible, but
there may be other explanations.
In this archive in Woking, where
the Carroll family papers are kept,
an intriguing piece of evidence,
a scrap of paper,
points in two other directions -
Alice's sister Lorina,
or "Ina" as she was known,
and the governess, Mary Prickett.
This is a note written by the niece
who cut out the pages,
and it's actually called
"cut pages in diary".
She writes "LC," Lewis Carroll,
"learns from Mrs Liddell that he's
supposed to be using the children
"as a means of paying court
to the governess.
"He's also supposed to be courting
Ina." That's Alice's older sister.
So, what this suggests is that
the rift
wasn't anything to do
with his relationship with Alice,
but, in fact, was about
the governess, or her sister.
It's true that there were rumours
at the time
about Carroll and Lorina,
and also about the governess,
and that's what this scrap
of paper is referring to.
However, there is another document,
a letter written by Lorina to Alice
when they were both in their 80s.
In it, Lorina informs Alice
that she's just been
interviewed by a biographer,
and she's worried
about the explanation
she's given for the rift.
"I said his manner became too
affectionate to you
"as you grew older, and that
Mother spoke to him about it,
"and that offended him, so he
ceased coming to visit us again,
"as one had to give some reason
for all intercourse ceasing."
This letter appears
to point things back to Alice,
although it can be read two ways.
We don't know which word
we're supposed to stress.
Is it "I said his manner
became too AFFECTIONATE to you" -
in other words, he behaved badly,
he maybe tried to kiss her?
Or is it "I said his manner
became too affectionate to YOU" -
because, actually,
it was me that he was after,
and I had to give some excuse
to throw her off the scent.
Again, we simply don't know.
But why would it
have been worse for him
to be affectionate towards
Lorina than to Alice?
Lorina was the eldest daughter,
she was above the age of consent.
The age of consent was 12.
So, for Carroll to kiss her would
have meant something different,
in everyone's eyes, than him kissing
a very little girl like Alice.
Because to us it seems
so much worse,
the suggestion that Mother had
banned Carroll from the house
for being too affectionate
towards a little girl.
Yes, exactly.
It's tempting, of course,
to think of Carroll as a, you know,
Victorian Jimmy Savile,
but in fact we have dozens and
dozens and dozens of records
from girls who he befriended,
who made it clear that there was a
kind of ritual to their friendship.
It involved kissing them, chastely,
and that was it.
For him, it was almost
a way of proving
that his intentions were pure.
Or possibly,
as a very repressed man,
this was as far as he felt
he could safely go.
We have various bits of evidence
which can be twisted
and turned and shaped
in different ways, but ultimately,
comes down to, "What do we think
was going on inside his head?"
So, the mystery of the rift
remains unsolved.
All we know for sure
is that in June 1863
Carroll was exiled from the deanery,
and when he was eventually
invited back in December that year,
his relationship with the family
had become formal and distant.
He was asked back for tea,
but then everything changed.
Everything changed.
They grew apart.
There's a rather sad, last,
final picture he took of her.
She looks sad and the mood is sad.
She looks rather wistful,
in a way, there.
I think it mirrors
the portrait that Carroll...
the last one that he took of her.
I think...she looks sad.
I mean, her beloved sister Edith
had died by then.
I think you can see that
etched into her face,
because the kind of wonderful brio
that she had as a little girl...
That's true, yes.
..has gone, hasn't it? Yes, yes.
Alice had grown up.
On the surface, she'd forgotten
Carroll, her childhood friend.
She married a man
called Reginald Hargreaves,
but chose a revealing name
for one of her sons.
Well, she gave my grandfather
the name of "Caryl",
she always denied, incredibly,
had any resonance at all,
but you can't help think,
"Come on!"
For Carroll, the real Alice
may have left his life,
but the fictional Alice lived on.
He couldn't stop recreating her.
First, in the famous sequel,
Through The Looking-Glass,
And What Alice Found There.
Then in merchandise and spin-offs.
For him, it's not about the money,
it's more about trying to maintain
contact with his dream child.
Part of it, I think,
goes back to his own childhood,
being safe in this little paradise.
She was a strange,
distorted version of HIM.
So, little Alice will never grow up,
and even though Carroll
himself had,
it meant he could always
go back to it, again and again.
It's as if he wanted
to BE that ideal dream child.
Did he simply want to be her,
or was there something else as well?
Over his lifetime,
Carroll accumulated hundreds of
child friends.
He'd meet them on railway journeys
and at the seaside,
his pockets brimming
with puzzles and games.
He, basically, picks them up.
He picks them up in trains,
he picks them up at friends' houses,
and of course they're not alone,
they're always accompanied by their
parents, nurses, governesses.
That kind of "collecting"
of children
became an astonishing way of life.
What was really going on?
Who knows?
It certainly would raise eyebrows
these days
from Social Services and parents,
and it did raise some eyebrows,
Well, I think people are quite
often very quick to criticise,
thinking about things
as they are in this day and age.
I think one always has to put
oneself back
to the period in which these
events took place.
And I mean, there is absolutely
no evidence whatsoever that,
you know, things were improper,
or anything like that.
Was there ever any complaints about
his behaviour towards children,
either from the children themselves
or by parents?
I don't know of any at all, and I've
studied this man for over 40 years.
So, I think if there had been any,
I would have found them by now.
The interesting thing here is
that his first biographer,
Dodgson Collingwood,
he does seem to have distorted
the record in order to suggest
that the child friends were younger
than they actually were,
because when he was writing
this biography,
at the end of the 19th century,
it seemed fine for a bachelor to
spend his time with little girls,
but very questionable
for him to spend his time
with sexually adult young women.
And so, he slightly...
twisted the evidence
to make them younger. With very odd
consequences, of course,
for Carroll's subsequent reputation,
since we now take precisely
the opposite view.
'The picture, though,
gets complicated,
'because Carroll
not only "collected" children,
'he photographed them
in his studio,
'and in some of those images
the children are naked.
'To modern eyes,
this certainly seems questionable.'
This is an interesting one,
because if you think about
Alice going up the river
for the story to be told, you know,
going to Wonderland
through the river bank,
here you've got another girl
who is naked on a river bank.
But it's not just a photograph.
What he's done
is he's taken a photograph of her,
and then he's sent it away
to an artist
to be professionally
and a whole background
has been painted in.
And what it's done
is it's turned her into...
a little Eve
before the Fall.
It stops it being
a photograph of a naked girl,
and it turns it into
an artistic nude.
He did have an obsession
with innocence,
childhood and innocence.
And these days,
we would not have considered
it possible for a photographer
to photograph young children in
the nude. It would be inconceivable!
They'd be bundled off to prison
as quick as you could...
But in those days, he could do that,
and it was sort of,
"Yes, that's all right, he's an
artist, he's a photographer,
"and children are perfectly
innocent, there's nothing wrong
going on at all."
And there wasn't actually, probably.
I think Carroll
thought of childhood as innocent.
Like many people,
he thought the human body
was a supremely beautiful thing,
and he thought the most supremely
beautiful form of human body
was the female body before puberty.
That is quite disturbing, isn't it?
It is, and...
That's a little girl
in a very adult pose.
Either you could think
of this as...the little girl
whose body naturally and
falls into this kind of posture...
Or it could be putting little girls
in an overtly sexual pose.
This is the problem
we've got, isn't it?
That all we've got is the image.
Dodgson himself,
I think, was a...
heavily repressed paedophile,
without doubt.
Many of the suggestions about
his relationship with children
being unhealthy
is totally unfounded,
and, in my view, totally false.
There are many people
who misunderstand Lewis Carroll
they haven't done their homework.
There are people who will strongly
contest that, won't they?
They'll say, what he was interested
in was the innocence of childhood,
which was almost like
a cult in Victorian times.
I think that's what paedophiles
are interested in,
the apparent innocence of children.
It's a problem, isn't it?
It's a problem when
somebody writes a great book
and they're not a great person.
These days, naked photographs
of children
are really not acceptable
in our own culture.
I think it WAS different
in those days,
because there are so
many Victorian pictures
showing naked children.
I mean, if you look at
Julia Margaret Cameron for example,
who was his contemporary,
she had pictures of naked children.
So, what are we to make
of Lewis Carroll's relationship
with his child friends?
And in particular
the nude photographs?
I'll be honest,
I'm such a big fan of his work
that I'm quite resistant to the idea
of exploring any possible dark side,
and it's certainly true that
in the Victorian period
images of naked children
were more widespread.
But there's no doubt
that some of the images
are really quite disturbing.
So, are we imposing the sensibility
of the 21st century
back into the Victorian era?
Or simply trying to protect
an author whose work we love?
Carroll's photographs
of young, naked children
are undoubtedly controversial.
But towards the very end of filming,
and after completing our interviews
with the Carroll experts in this
programme, we stumbled across this.
If authentic, it would completely
change our ideas about Carroll.
Our researcher found this
photograph in a French museum.
It's attributed to Lewis Carroll,
and it's labelled Lorina Liddell.
Now, Carroll took
lots of photographs of Lorina,
but this one is shockingly
It's a full-frontal picture
of a naked young teenager,
a picture which no parent
would ever have consented to.
So, is it genuine?
Well, here are some photographs
we know Carroll took
of Lorina in Christchurch.
Is this the same girl?
Whoever the young girl is,
she certainly doesn't look at ease.
So, was this taken by Lewis Carroll?
It certainly needs investigating.
I didn't expect that my adventures
in search of Lewis Carroll
would take me through a door marked
"French Riviera",
and look, there may be no real way
of discovering
who took this photograph, or even
if it really is of Lorina Liddell.
But the image isn't allowed
out of the country,
so coming here to Marseilles
and subjecting it to expert tests
may be the best way
of discovering more clues.
This isn't the first time
the image has been examined.
In 1993, the Carroll expert
Edward Wakeling
judged it to be inauthentic
when he compared it to
known Carroll photographs.
But would subjecting the original
to forensic tests
suggest something different?
'Nicholas Burnett is
a picture conservationist
'with specialist knowledge of
19th-century photography.'
There is something
quite strange, isn't there,
about the pair of us looking back
into the eyes of this girl?
And it's a young girl, isn't it?
A naked picture of a young girl.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
'We've brought Nicholas here
to the Musee Cantini in Marseilles
'to examine the photograph.'
It says "Lorina Liddell,
"L Carroll, Col, MC."
So, I think that's
a dealer's inscription
saying what it is
and where it came from,
"Col" probably
is short for collection.
'The Musee Cantini don't use
the letters "MC"
'on their photographs, so we don't
know what "MC" stands for.
'We do know that the photograph
used to be
'held by the Galerie Texbraun
in Paris.
'After the death of the owners
in 1986, it was donated here.
'But is it dated
from the early 1860s,
'when Carroll was photographing
the Liddell girls?'
There's a lot of damage
on the surface,
there's a big crease up here,
the corner's been torn off,
there's some scratches.
You can see the little brown spots
on her face,
it's a very slow-growing mould,
and very difficult
to fake convincingly.
It looks like it's got a very
thin albumen coating.
Albumen, of course, is egg white.
So, let's have a little peek there.
Yes, that's very thin, that's what
you'd expect from the 1850s, 1860s.
So, we can rule out a modern fake.
'So, we've established that
the photograph was taken
'around the same time that Carroll
was seeing the Liddells.'
What about the kind of camera
being used for this?
Well, he used an Ottewill's
folding camera,
it's the sort of camera that
it would have been taken with.
Two wooden boxes,
one slightly smaller than the other,
just sliding into each other.
'But was the photograph developed
'using the same method
that Carroll used?
'This was called
the "wet collodion process",
'in which chemicals are poured
over a glass negative.'
A bit earlier than this and it would
have been from a paper negative,
and it wouldn't have
been quite so crisp.
This print has been printed
from a wet collodion negative.
So, can you just, given what you've
been looking at so far,
can you sum up for us what we know
and what we don't know
about this photograph?
Well, it's taken using a negative
process that Carroll used,
it's printed on the sort
of paper that he used,
about the right date, so,
so far everything fits.
'We have an inscription on
the old mount, saying,
'"Lorina Liddell" and "L Carroll",
'but is there anything on the back
of the print itself?
'The way to find out is
by thinning down the corners.'
Carroll began using his studio
in 1863,
he typically numbered
his pictures,
although some of the records
for the early 1860s are missing.
One would expect each print
to be numbered,
but this print has been cropped.
The negative is larger
than the photograph,
so it's possible that it was there
and it's been snipped off.
Doesn't look like there's
anything there.
What does that mean, do you think?
The absence of one doesn't
prove anything, because, as I say,
it might have been trimmed off.
Overall, we've put this photograph
through a number of different
and you've given us your
scientific opinion about it all.
What's your gut instinct? My gut
instinct is it's by Lewis Carroll.
Yes. Why's that?
Just everything about it, really.
You know, that was so interesting,
because I'd half-expected
our expert to say,
"No, this couldn't possibly have
been taken by Lewis Carroll,
"it was from the wrong period,"
or was actually an out-and-out fake.
But, in fact, even though
we didn't find an inscription
by Lewis Carroll himself,
we now know that it was developed
using the same process
that Carroll would have used,
a similar camera,
and actually, that it dates from the
period when Lorina Liddell herself
would have been a young teenager.
Back in London, I'm on my way
to see forensic imagery analyst
David Anley.
He works as an expert witness
in court cases, and he's going to
compare the characteristics
in known photographs
of Lorina at different ages
with the photograph that we found.
If we start with the eyebrows,
now, the image at the top here
is of the older Lorina as an adult,
the image in the middle
is the younger Lorina,
and the one at the bottom
is the girl in your photograph.
There are certain similarities.
The line of the eyebrows
is consistent,
and there is a further consistency
in their depth at various points.
If we then go on to the eyes,
you can see that there
is a fairly hooded appearance,
and this feature appears consistent
both with the girl in the photograph,
and of Lorina.
If we look at the nose,
again, in terms of the width
of the nose at the nasion,
here, the point between the eyes,
the bridge, and the width
of the alae,
the fleshy pads
on the side of the nose, there,
those are all broadly consistent,
as is the apparent
form of the nostrils.
To my inexpert eye they
do look remarkably similar.
They are similar, and there
are certainly no indications there
of a significant difference.
Then the upper and lower lips,
these to me are most interesting
of the features that we see.
All three images appear to show
a cupid's bow in the upper lip,
but most interestingly,
the lower lip is fairly prominent
and protruding in the centre
and on the right-hand side,
but over on the left, it fades away.
And that's evident, here,
in the girl on the photograph,
here, on the younger Lorina,
and still evident to a degree,
here, in the older Lorina.
Overall, what are you able
to tell us about this photograph?
Well, if I was doing a comparison
such as this for a court case,
I would say, forensically speaking,
we would say
that there is moderate support for
the contention that the girl
in the photograph is Lorina,
as shown in the other images.
As this is not for a court case,
I'm prepared to get off the fence
a little bit and say that,
in my opinion, I would say it's her.
We can't say for certain that this
IS a photograph of Lorina Liddell,
but we have established that it's
not a fake,
it's a genuine photograph,
and it's from the exact period
when Lorina Liddell herself
would have been a young teenager.
If true, this casts a further
troubling light
on the life of Lewis Carroll,
and also offers a possible
explanation for that mysterious rift
between him and the Liddell family.
So, this is where our
investigations have taken us.
Now, of course,
we've got no provenance
directly linking
Carroll with this photograph,
but why would someone bother
to label it as Lorina Liddell?
She was a pretty obscure figure
at the time.
The questions which hang over this
mirror the larger controversies
about Lewis Carroll's life.
Ideas which are strongly resisted
by his many admirers,
who say that we're trying to impose
modern values
on a very different age.
Perhaps we'll never find out
the real truth about Lewis Carroll,
however much we delve.
But, as we come to celebrate
the 150th anniversary of this book,
we can marvel at the way this
pedantic, cloistered mathematics don
has managed to capture
the imagination of children
throughout the world.
The man, however flawed,
has written a work of genius
that's been rediscovered
generation after generation.