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31 December 2008
Carroll sort-of self published his books. "Sort-of" because it was the kind of deal which later seemed to fade out in publishing, only to re-emerge in the last few years with outfits like Lulu.

Macmillan & Co.

Macmillan & Co. were his publishers. They are now one of the big boys but at the time Carroll chose them in the early 1860s, they were a fairly new house, founded in 1843. So they had been going about twenty years. They had a stable of authors and good relationships with booksellers and distributors.

No Editorial Input
But Carroll did not receive any editorial input from Macmillan, and had to bear all the costs of illustration, paper and binding himself. It cost him a fortune.

When I first learned that he'd paid for it all himself, out of his rather meagre salary, I warmed to him. Here he was, a totally unknown author, believing in himself and prepared to take a risk.

He was painstaking about the production of his books, ensuring that the illustrations should be on the same page as the text to which they related, and making sure that every detail was as perfect as it could be. Nothing but the best.

12 December 2008
Here's a picture I took when writing an article on Mozart in Vienna. The Austrians and Germans always do Christmas better than anyone else. What the picture doesn't show is how freezing cold it was. We had to go into the cathedral and stand on the hot air vents in the end.

Mozart's very interesting and perhaps if my German improves I may write a little book about him. He's almost as interesting as Lewis Carroll.

Winter Window in Vienna
12 December 2008

Was invited to the Portuguese tourist board Christmas dinner - on the strength of the articles on the Alentejo (see last September). Being a Scrooge character, I rarely attend festive corporate events, but this sounds like fun. Here's another Portugal picture. It is a hilltop church and everything was very quiet up there in the little plaza, with enormous views out over the surrounding countryside

A hilltop church in the Alentejo
10 December 2008
Marjorie Holme of Moonsilk Stitches tagged me for the Bookworm Award.

The rules for this award are: Open the book closest to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, and turn to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that. And pass the award on to five blogging friends.

The book nearest to me is James Paget's Clinical Lectures of 1875. It's one Carroll thought very highly of, and the relevant sentence goes:

"....It was removed, and erysipelas set-in and of that he died. And then it was found he had albuminuria, a condition which made him so liable to erysipelas, or to pyaemia, or to some form of blood poisoning, that if it had been ascertained beforehand no prudent surgeon would have thought of operating. Another person was a drunkard, on the sly, and yet not so much on the sly, but that it was well known to his more intimate friends. His havits were not asked-after, and one of his fingers was removed because joint-disease had spoiled it..."

Carroll had a huge medical library, and must have known almost as much about the human body as a doctor. He liked looking after his friends when they were ill and tending their ailments. I feel that if his life had taken a slightly different turn, and he'd had different opportunities, we'd maybe have had "Dr. Dodgson."

One of the top books I've read lately is "From Youth Onward" by Dr. Jacob Ley who was an exact contemporary of Carroll's. Dr Ley was a great raconteur and his book gives hair raising descriptions of how it was to "walk the wards" of some of the poor slum hospitals of Victorian London.

Now I've got to think who to pass the award onto. There are some good candidates.
08 December 2008