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30 June 2016
Lewis Carroll Society talks
12 June 2016
Just a reminder that, as ever, Alice will be everywhere in evidence in Oxford next July 2nd, when Alice's Day comes round again. Here are the details. The theme this year is "Animals in Wonderland," a topic which caught my attention because I'm involved in a project about Alice and the natural world. The project won't go public for a long time yet, but "Alice in Wonderland" was published just six years after Darwin's "Origin of Species" so when you think of Carroll telling the original story in 1862, you might ber in mind that the topic of evolution would have still have been in the forefront of much public discussion.

His bank account shows that he spent a lot of money, two guineas, on a ticket for the famous debate about evolution which took place in Oxford between Bishop Wilberforce (below) and Thomas Huxley.

This is arguably one of the most famous debates in the history of science, and how I'd love to know Carroll's impressions - for many of the books in his library show he was fascinated by the issue of Darwinism for the rest of his life. Sadly, the diaries for this period are missing (and once again, I grind my teeth at whichever family member decided that posterity didn't need to know about Carroll's life between 1858-1862!)

Anyway, being quite the celebrity hunter, Carroll was keen to meet the distinguished guests at the debate, and he is said to have assisted with ushering during the meeting, which would have allowed him to get into conversation with them. He photographed several of the delegates, including Bishop Wilberforce, shown here on 28 June, 1860, just two days before the debate. No doubt he was thinking about what he would say.

I doubt if Alice's Day will have much detail on this topic, but the Lewis Carroll Society is contributing a talk: John Vernon Lord, illustrator, teacher and author, speaks about ‘Wonderland Creatures and Looking Glass Beasts’ at the The Story Museum, 11:00-11:30 on 2 July. I hope you can get along.

Here's one of John Vernon Lord's pictures: the Caterpillar. I always imagine the Caterpillar as a crusty old Oxford Don made to look rather ridiculous sitting on a mushroom, and so I do love this image.