19 November 2015

I am looking forward to the ghostly Fortean Society on the 24th Right now I'm seeking interesting images of phantoms etc. for the PowerPoint presentation. Rather sorry that I can't use this one, but there is no place for it in the talk, so I'm putting it here instead :)

25 October 2015

I don't suppose Lewis Carroll knew this solemn young lady, but I'm delighted and honoured that the poet, novelist and medical doctor, David Wheldon, has just dedicated a fascinating short story to me which refers to the instrument she's holding - a Stroh violin. The story is called THE SERJEANT'S DAUGHTER and it deals - basically - with what happens after a trial. As the story progresses, the narrative seems to disintegrate and re-form itself into a completely different story, which has echoes of both Carroll and Kafka. It features a young woman - the Serjeant's daughter of the title - who plays a Stroh violin.

Graham Greene considered David Wheldon's first novel, THE VIADUCT, to be "remarkable," and he and the other judge of the 1982 Triple First Award, William Trevor, gave it first place, with a prize of 5000. It was published by The Bodley Head, Penguin Books and the Book Club Associates in London, and by George Braziller in New York His next book, THE COURSE OF INSTRUCTION, was published in hardback by The Bodley Head (as was his next, A VOCATION) and in paperback by Black Swan. AT THE QUAY was published by Barrie and Jenkins. If you go to his website you can learn more.

And, I have just heard that David has put the story online, here, together with a link to his short story titles, here.

So what does a Stroh violin sound like? Well, I don't know. But here is a cover version of one of Adele's songs, played on something that looks rather like it, although the player, Stephanie Valentin, doesn't remind me much of the Serjeant's Daughter of the story, and probably doesn't sound much like her either.

And this is a non-electric version, which might sound more like the one in the story.

18 October 2015

As part of Alice150, there's an exhibition of Alice related art work and crafts in Tokyo with contributions from 24 artists. Lots of fun work here - I liked these Cheshire cats (click the link and you will see more.) ... but hurry, it's only on until 27 October!
It's at Irias, 2-9-12-1F-B Yanaka,
Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0001 Japan

05 October 2015
This year, like last year, my friend Yoshi in Japan kindly sent me a beautiful calendar "Alice in Calendarland" illustrated by Takako Hirai, a famous Japanese illustrator.

She signed it for me on the top left corner.


Here's the back of the calendar, showing the images for each month.


They're available in postcards, and Yoshi also sent three of the cards, for May, June and September.

3 cards

I'm very pleased to have this calendar and the cards.

02 October 2015

Carroll is always associated with boats on a river, and he is also of course
strongly linked with Guildford, in Surrey. So it was nice to hear that on Sunday 20th
September last, Gulldford Rowing Club had a 'Big Row' along the
River Wey between Guildford and Weybridge, where it joins the River Thames.
The event was to raise money and awareness of the Club's plan to rebuild its
facilities to modern and accessible standards, and rowers were
drawn from all sections of the Club - young, old,male, female and disabled.

The Club established links with the Lewis Carroll Society
several years ago when they started to name their boats after characters from Lewis
Carroll books. Carroll, of course, lived at "The Chestnuts" nearby.
The fleet includess many boats named after Lewis Carroll's characters:

They include Jabberwock, Mock Turtle, Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts,
Knave of Hears, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, March Hare, Gryphon, Dormouse,
Alice in Wonderland, Bandersnatch and Eat Me!

The LCS treasurer went along, had tea and cake and reports that a good time was had by all!

20 September 2015
The Chestnuts

Anyone who has ever studied Lewis Carroll knows that The Chestnuts in Guildford, Surrey,(above) was very important to him. This is the house he leased for his many unmarried sisters after they had to move out of Croft Rectory in the late 1860s, and from that time till his death in 1898 it was really his home away from Oxford. This is where he made friends, took friends to stay, and spent Christmas and other holidays. He records in his diary how in 1881 he bought the house a "Christmas present" of a "ventilating lamp" which everyone was much pleased with. It probably looked something like this...

After Croft, The Chestnuts is certainly the most important house to be associated with him. When I have visited it it has always looked a bit scruffy but I was told that it belonged to Carroll fans who were hoping to restore it and were meanwhile letting it to students. I have looked at it occasionally when I have passed and it is clear that it is not in a very good state. This article confirms that the current owners have neglected it and don't care about it.

An article in 2012 in another local paper commented on the loss of the plaque, but nothing has been done about this.

Any Carroll fans who are unhappy about the condition of this house might like to write to Guildford Borough Council to point out that the building is Grade II listed as of architectural and historical interest, and they are concerned at its present condition. Councils have a lot of demands on their time and money but the fact that this house matters to so many potential visitors to the town might give a protest that "squeaky wheel" factor that makes them do something about it! Here are the council's contact details - you need to write to the Planning Officer.

25 August 2015

|It never occurred to me to have an Alice wedding, but perhaps if they'd had Pinterest in those days I might have beentempted. I've been having fun browsing this collection of Alice in Wonderland wedding pictures, here. and it set me off searching for sites with Alice themed wedding ideas.

Here are a few of the things I found. I wonder what role this trippy Caterpillar was playing in the "Alice in Wonderland on Acid" wedding featured on the amazing Rock n Roll Bride site.

Actually the wedding had sword swallowers, drag queens and Tea-quilas too and I really loved reading about it in detail, here.

I'm always most interested in the wedding cakes - perhaps that says something about me - and after looking through these and other sites I decided that this was my favourite cake, partly because its attractive old fashioned colouring reminded me of old book illustrations.

It's from Catherine's Cakery, a Canadian site.

One of the big difficulties about an Alice wedding, I'd have thought, is that you definitely CAN'T have the bride as the Queen of Hearts, for obvious reasons, and the nearest anyone gets to this fearsome character on the wedding sites I have seen is this pair of pretty heart shoes

I've always thought it says something about Lewis Carroll, that he transformed what ought to have been the loveliest character in the book into something frightening. You could take the view that this offers the chance to be more creative, though.

Anyway, I decided that even though I couldn't have an Alice wedding, I might one day give an Alice themed tea party, and if so I'd use Carlton Walking Ware, a range which dates from the seventies and can seem really surreal, specially if there is a lot of it on the table. This link goes to the eBay site where you can buy the stuff, and I spotted this teapot from the range recently in Norwich Castle Museum, spotlit and looking surprisingly impressive.

06 August 2015
After Lewis Carroll's father died in the late 1860s, he took a house for his six sisters to live in at Guildford, in Surrey. He went there for many of his holidays and considered it to be his home away from Oxford.

After the sisters died, many Dodgson family documents and personal possessions were left to what is now the Surrey History Centre. This Dodgson Family Collection, as it is known. is a very good place to start any research into Carroll.

Surrey History Centre

After years in rather unsatisfactory accommodation, it is now well housed in the Centre's modern and well designed building in Woking, not far from Guildford.

As part of Alice 150, the centre's website has had some useful new additions. The "People" web page for Lewis Carroll now features more images, links to other collections and sources held locally, nationally and internationally.

A new sub-page has been created called "Anniversaries of Alice", which chronicles Carroll, Alice, and the impact of the book across the decades.

The latter page was created by Surrey Heritage and Prof Will Brooker at Kingston University. It is illustrated using many items from the Dodgson Family Collection and Lewis Carroll collections, and it can be updated on a regular basis. You can book
at www.surreycc.gov.uk/heritageevents, in person at Surrey History Centre or in any Surrey Library, or phone 01483 518737.
05 August 2015
There he was, lurking in a corner.

01 August 2015
I heard today from Canadian animator Jennifer Linton, who has made this cool Alice-inspired animation, with a twist at the end, about a girl on a streetcar....

Toronto Alice from Jennifer Linton on Vimeo.

Voice of Alice by Nicole Bauman
Voices of Tweedledee & Tweedledum by Matt Speirs
Sound recording and design by Karl Mohr
Stop-motion animation, post-production, editing, and direction by Jennifer Linton
Adapted from "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There", by Lewis Carroll (published in 1871).

This animation was made possible by the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council, and by the generosity of my Indiegogo contributors. Thank you!

Copyright ©2015 Papercut Pictures. All rights reserved.

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