DODGSON, CHARLES LUTWIDGE (1832-1898, 'Lewis Carroll', author and mathematician)
Lot 65
DODGSON, CHARLES LUTWIDGE (1832-1898, 'Lewis Carroll', author and mathematician)
Sold for £6,000 (US$ 9,012) inc. premium

Lot Details
DODGSON, CHARLES LUTWIDGE (1832-1898, 'Lewis Carroll', author and mathematician)
REMARKABLE AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('C.L. Dodgson'), to Mrs 'Aubrey-Moore', written in his characteristic purple ink, requesting, because her children seem so disposed to regard him as a friend (though a little too prone also to treat him as a 'lion'), that he might get to know them better, regretting that 'Child-friends will grow up so quick' ('...Most of mine are now grown-up, tho' by no means ceasing to be "child-friends"...'), explaining that since his life is very busy and 'nearing its end' he has very little time 'to give to the sweet relief of girl-society' so he has to limit himself to the only way in which such society is worth having, namely one to one, asking her therefore if her children are 'invitable (not "inevitable"!) to tea or dinner, singly' rather than 'in sets only (like circulating-library novels)' and also asking if they are 'kissable' ('...I hope you won't be shocked at the question: but nearly all my girl-friends (of all ages, and even married ones!) are now on those terms with me (who am now 64)...'), suggesting that such permission is not necessary for girls under the age of fourteen, but since Margery is probably over fourteen he feels obliged to ask their mother's leave, assuring her that when his girl-friends become engaged '(as they are always doing)', he declines to continue the practice unless the fiancé gives his permission which sometimes they do ('...rather a wonder to me, as I feel sure that, if I were in his case, I should not give it!...'), and reflecting that no one knows what 'girl-nature is, who has only seen them in the presence of their mothers or sisters', 4 pages, oblong octavo and a small sheet (4½ x 7 inches and 3½ x c. 5½ inches), traces of former hinges, Christ Church, Oxford, 24 July 1896

Footnotes

  • DODGSON ASKS A MOTHER IF HER CHILDREN ARE 'INVITABLE' AND 'KISSABLE.' Of all the letters printed by Morton Cohen in The Letters, the present one is the longest, most explicit, most revealing and most detailed about the nature of his interest in his 'girl-friends' and what he wanted of them. It is also the most comprehensive and bold letter on the subject he ever wrote to the mother of one of his prospective girl-friends.

    Dodgson had met Mrs Catharine Moore and her daughters on 11 July when he was giving the last lecture in his course at the Oxford High School. His later letters to Mrs R.L. Poole (when he asked her for access to her daughter Joy - without asking if she was kissable) show that Mrs Aubrey-Moore declined the invitation he extended in this letter ('...as I have made a similar request, in vain, as to her friends the Aubrey Moores, I don't feel quite confident of success on this occasion'). Mrs Moore was the wife of Aubrey Lackington Moore (1848-1890), successively Fellow of St. John's College, Lecturer and Tutor of Magdalen, Tutor of Keble and Honorary Canon of Christ Church. She apparently thought that Dodgson was a bit odd (Michael Bakewell, Lewis Carroll, 1996, pp. 323-324).

    Dodgson was aware of the disquiet his relations with young girls was causing at this time. When one of his sisters voiced her concerns about his actions and what people were saying, he replied: 'The only two tests I now apply to such a question as the having some particular girl friend as a guest are, first, my own conscience, to settle whether I feel it to be entirely innocent and right, in the sight of God; secondly, the parents of my friend, to settle whether I have their full approval for what I do. You need not be shocked at my being spoken against.'

    Except for a reference in a letter to the by then grown-up Evelyn Hatch ('...It's one thing, you know, to have a guest with whom you are on "Miss" terms, and quite another to have one with whom one is on "Kiss" terms...), Dodgson made no more suggestions about kissing girls in the letters printed by Morton Cohen after the present one.
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