the association for new Lewis Carroll studies

About Contrariwise

Contrariwise is striving to bring about a more rational and evidence-based view of Lewis Carroll, his life and his work, away from the destructive and anti-evidential mythologies.

We welcome anyone who has read and loved the 'Alice' books, or who has ever thought Lewis Carroll has been ill-served by his biographers and the media.

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Alternative Alices: Visions and Revisions of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" Books. - Sigler, Carolyn, Lexington: U P of Kentucky, 1997.

In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: the Myth & Reality of Lewis Carroll - Leach, Karoline, Peter Owen 1999, 2009, 2015

Behind the Looking-Glass - Ackerman, Sherry, 2008

Alice Beyond Wonderland - Hollingsworth, Cristopher (editor), 2009


These articles are all in PDF format and free to download for personal and research use. Please contact us for permission to republish.

The Curious Case of the Wasp in the Wig by Karoline Leach

The Other Carroll Myth by Arne Moll

Reply to Rackin a response to Donald Rackin's review of "In the Shadow of the Dreamchild" by Karoline Leach

Alice and the Hero's Journey by Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D

The Mystic's Intellectual Hymn to Love by Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D

Lewis Carroll and Adult Women first published in the Times Literary Supplement by Karoline Leach

Love as Nonsense: 42 Seconds of Cynicism by Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti

Love as Nonsense: A Counter-Point by Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D

Carroll's Philosophy by John Tufail

Ina In Wonderland this article first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement by Karoline Leach

C. L. Dodgson & the Victorian Cult of the Child by Hugues Lebailly

"Your Sexagenarian Lover..." the ages of Charles Dodgson's female friends as reflected in "The Letters of Lewis Carroll." by Karoline Leach

'White Stone' by Kate Lyon

" Your Affectionate Friend..." Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's Infatuation with the Weaker and More Aesthetic Sex Re-examined by Hugues Lebailly.

Lewis Carroll as romantic hero Carroll as he appears in Anne Thackeray's novel "From an Island" by Karoline Leach

From Chaos to Cosmos: the Genesis of "Sylvie and Bruno" by Pascale Renaud Grosbras

The Illuminated Snark by John Tufail

Through A Distorting Looking-Glass Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's artistic interests as mirrored in his nieces' edited version of his diaries by Hugues Lebailly

Dreaming in Pictures Excerpts from "Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll" by Douglas R. Nickel

Carroll's 'conservatism' by John Tufail

Who mutilated Lewis Carroll's diaries? by Karoline Leach

mission statement

The common ground on which this association of writers and scholars is founded is the hypothesis that Lewis Carroll - genius author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - has been the victim not the subject of his biography.

We believe a protracted lack of vital evidence has combined with over-imaginative or misinformed biographers to create a widespread and pervasive mythology about his life, his personal relationships, his politcs, religion and even his literary output. And we think this needs to be put right if possible.

The new studies start, then, with a questioning of the myth. They begin with the assumption Lewis Carroll was 'simply' a man. Not the 'Repressed Paedophile', or the 'Tragic Deviant with the Heart of Gold; not either the 'Pure and Innocent Lover of Children' with no understanding of his own fantasy world', nor the 'Ideal Friend', nor the 'Miraculous Writer'; not the 'Naive Uncle', not the 'Child-at-Heart', not the 'Social Hermit', not the 'Unfathomable Genius': all those are mythical constructs that can be questioned, because they can be shown to be extreme hypotheses which a simpler hypothesis might outdo.

They strive to examine the elements of this myth, to understand why it was born and how it functions, what needs it fulfils. The fact that it has evolved over time makes the task difficult, but not impossible. While this is being done, the new studies also attempts a re-construction of a coherent image of Carroll based on non-mythical data, and more particularly on historical data long left unexplored: we now have access to what remains of the unexpurgated diary, for example. Other data may also be gathered from the exploration of his relationships with his contemporaries. Etc.

This will allow what might be termed a 'recontextualisation': in other words, it should help to make sense of the man's life and his works within his time. This step will in turn allow us to ask new questions.

This is very much a work in progress. In this sense, it makes sense to recognize a debt to all who have worked on Carroll. 'Contrariwise' stands for a continuation of research, even though it fundamentally challenges many old certitudes. It is not a full-bodied theory, but a tentative new paradigm, a new way of looking at what are really very old questions. It's a whole field of research with its inherent problems, to be solved as we go.

Pascale Renaud Grosbras  • Hugues Lebailly • Karoline Leach • John Tufail •  Kate Lyon • Sherry Ackerman  • Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti • Cristopher Hollingsworth • Carolyn Sigler • 

associated sites

In the Shadow of the Dreamchild

Behind the Looking-Glass

Lewis Carroll at Tant Mieux

Lewis Carroll at the Victorian Web