A Lecture on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

After I had led worship at Killinghall Chapel, I returned home for an early lunch with my beloved, before setting off to Ripon Cathedral. I was going to join my sisters Janet with her husband Graham and Fran, and Selwyn’s wife Janet, to hear my brother Dr Selwyn Goodacre give a talk on Lewis Carroll. Selwyn is an avid collector of Lewis Carroll; he has always loved children’s books but especially Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass. He is also a renowned international speaker on the subject of Lewis Carroll and was invited to speak as this year is the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Alice in Wonderland.

The Mayor gave a short talk on Charles Ludwidge Dodgson, Lewis Carroll and his connections with Ripon Cathedral, and the places where Charles’ father an Anglican vicar was posted. Before Selwyn spoke the Ripon bell ringer rang his bell and officially announced his talk. Selwyn had a number of slides about the earliest illustrators of Alice in Wonderland. Tenniel was the earliest illustrator of Alice. Later other illustrators were able to have a go at illustrating Alice. Some illustrators were better than others but each had Alice wearing the clothing of a child in their era. Selwyn concentrated on looking at how each illustrator had chosen to draw the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’. It was fascinating comparing the artist’s work on that famous scene. I loved the way Selwyn explained how Alice coped in this strange adult world. Lewis Carroll had got to know Alice Liddle the Dean’s daughter and had made up the story of Alice at her request. He actually wrote and illustrated the first version of Alice for her. Later that original work was expanded on by him to form the Alice in Wonderland we know today.

Apparently Lewis Carroll had also written some maths textbooks, some of which Selwyn has but he finds the content rather obscure, mostly the maths books had been written under his real name of Charles Ludwidge Dodgson, only the later one had been signed in his pen name of Lewis Carroll.
Selwyn showed us slides of the relevant pictures and included the window in Ripon Cathedral from Alice. The talk seemed to go quickly. It was lovely that my sister Janet had told me about the talk and that Fran came over too for the talk.

After the talk we went to enjoy an afternoon tea near the Cathedral, prepared by members of the Friends of Ripon Cathedral. The meal was announced again after the Bell ringer rang the bell and the Dean said grace. About 4 extracts on food and drink from Alice were read for us at the afternoon tea and I noticed Selwyn was mouthing the words of each extract. I enjoyed the afternoon.

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2 Responses to A Lecture on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

  1. selwyngoodacre says:

    Many thanks for your kind comments! I think you are meant to call the bell ringer ‘the bellman’, and the window is in Daresbury, not Ripon! But it was good to have such support from the family

  2. helenbeech says:

    Oh thanks. The bellman. I had not realised that the window was in Daresbury. I must admit I did not make notes so it was what I recalled that I wrote. I enjoyed being there with you all. Thanks for the book. A thank you letter is already on the way!

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