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Lewis Carroll's haunting photographs of young girls

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Xie Kitchin. 1874
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Xie Kitchin. 1874
January 27, 2016 /Photography News/ Born 184 years ago on 27 January 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was an English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer.

From today’s perspective, his most notable career is that of writing, as it cemented his pen name in pop culture: Lewis Carroll. But only acknowledging his literary accomplishments would do him a grave injustice.

In the days when photography was just starting to establish itself as an art form, Dodgson took notice of the extremely precise and mathematical aspects of it. Influenced by his uncle Skeffington Lutwidge and his friend Reginald Southey, he picked up the hobby and - as with just about everything he tried in his life - he excelled almost immediately.

Throughout his 24-year career as a photographer he became a master of the medium, boasting a portfolio of roughly 3,000 images and his very own studio. His subjects were most often people, although he also photographed landscapes, dolls, dogs, statues, paintings, trees and even skeletons, as seen above.

From the 3000+ photographs taken by Dodgson, only 1000 have survived due to the passage of time and deliberate destruction, of which just over half are of children (mostly young girls) - 30 of whom are depicted nude or semi-nude.

Beatrice Hatch, 30 July 1873. Photograph taken by Lewis Carroll, then colored by Anne Lydia Bond on Carroll's instructions
Beatrice Hatch, 30 July 1873. Photograph taken by Lewis Carroll, then colored by Anne Lydia Bond on Carroll's instructions

Evelyn Hatch, 29 July 1879.Photograph taken by Lewis Carroll, then colored by Anne Lydia Bond on Carroll's instructions
Evelyn Hatch, 29 July 1879.Photograph taken by Lewis Carroll, then colored by Anne Lydia Bond on Carroll's instructions

His affection for younger girls, many of whom inspired the stories he wrote, has led many to conclude that Dodgson may very well have been paedophilic in nature, including Morton N. Cohen in his Lewis Carroll: A Biography (1995), Donald Thomas in his Lewis Carroll: A Portrait with Background (1995), and Michael Bakewell in his Lewis Carroll: A Biography (1996).

Most famously, Carroll obsessively photographed the young Alice Liddell, daughter of family friend Henry George Liddell and inspiration for Carroll’s most famous fictional character.

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Alice. 1858
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Alice. 1858

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Alice. 1859
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Alice. 1859

Carroll’s carefully staged child photographs are very much like those of other photographers of the period like Mary Cowden Clarke and Julia Margaret Cameron, who also photographed Alice Liddell, even into her adulthood.

Below are a few more photographs from Lewis Carroll's collection:

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Amy Hughes
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Amy Hughes

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Annie Coates. 1857
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Annie Coates. 1857

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Ella Chlora Faithful Monier-Williams. 1866
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Ella Chlora Faithful Monier-Williams. 1866

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Liddell-Sisters (Alice right). 1858
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Liddell-Sisters (Alice right). 1858

Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Xie Kitchin. 1876
Lewis Carroll. Fine Art Photography. Xie Kitchin. 1876


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