General Reading List


There have been hundreds of books and articles written about Charles Dodgson and his works. Mistakes and myths are plentiful and it can be difficult to get a fair and accurate portrayal of the man without taking care when choosing books to read. Our list is based on the consensus of a number of scholars and enthusiasts. If you think we have missed something important, please tell us, it is probably just an accidental ommission.

See also, our Specialist Reading List and our Short List of Works by Dodgson.

Charles Dodgson's Works, Analysis and Criticism

The Annotated Alice: the Definitive Edition
Original Illustrations by John Tenniel
Introduction and Notes by Martin Gardner
New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999
ISBN: 0 393 04847 0

Martin Gardner’s annotations to the two Alice books first appeared in 1960, explaining some of the mysteries of the stories, adding background colour and helping to put them into the context of Victorian England, Oxford life and Christ Church tradition. More Annotated Alice appeared in the 1990s and this final update brings together all Gardner’s work to date. New readers start here.

The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits
With an Introduction and Notes by Martin Gardner
London, Penguin Books, 1995
ISBN: 0 14 043491 7

Dodgson’s nonsense poem was first published in 1876; Martin Gardner’s annotations were added in 1962 and revised in 1974. This edition, often reprinted, with Henry Holiday’s original illustrations, is the most satisfactory introduction and is easily obtained.

The Complete Illustrated Lewis Carroll
With an Introduction by Alexander Woollcott
Ware, Wordsworth Editions, 1998
ISBN: 1 85326 897 6

Not strictly complete, and illustrated only as far as Tenniel was involved, but a cheap and easy way of getting hold of all the major works and a good few others. There are numerous ‘complete works’ available, most of which serve the purpose: This one is a reprint of the respected Nonesuch edition of 1939.

Alice in Wonderland: Authoritative texts … Backgrounds, Essays in Criticism.
Edited by Donald J. Gray
A Norton Critical Edition
New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1992 (2nd edition)
ISBN: 0 393 95804 3

In addition to the texts, this book contains excerpts from biographies and important essays on aspects of Dodgson ’s work from writers such as Nina Auerbach, Gillian Avery, Elizabeth Sewell and Donald Rackin.

PHILLIPS, Robert, editor
Aspects of Alice: Lewis Carroll’s Dreamchild as Seen Through the Critics’ Looking-Glasses 1865-1971
Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1981
ISBN: 0 14 003795 0

Originally published in the U.S.A. in 1971, this compilation includes subjects from the Oxford Movement to the first acidhead, and writers from W.H. Auden to Grace Slick. The book is out of print but can often be found in second-hand shops.

Charles Dodgson's Life: Letters and Diaries

The Diaries of Lewis Carroll
Edited and supplemented by Roger Lancelyn Green
Vol. I: 1855-67, Vol. II: 1867-98
London, Cassell & Company Ltd, 1953

This first publication of the diaries is all that has been available to scholars unable to consult the original manuscript (in the British Library from 1969) until the Wakeling edition (see below). Green worked from an edited typescript given him by Dodgson’s nieces and imposed further omissions himself.

The Diaries of Lewis Carroll
Edited by Edward Wakeling
London, The Lewis Carroll Society, 1993-2007

This edition published, for the first time, all the surviving diaries, in their full, unexpurgated form, with full and copious annotations giving details of people and events. The set comprise ten volumes. Originally there were 13 volumes but four have gone missing; the tenth book in this series contains a full index of all volumes and supplementary material. For more information about the diaries, click here to visit the relevant pages on this website.

Vol. 1; Jan – Sep 1855;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 06 5, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 06 6

Vol. 2; Jan – Dec 1856;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 07 3, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 07 3

Vol. 3; Jan 1857 – Apr 1858;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 08 1, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 08 0

Vol. 4; May 1862 – 6 Sep 1864;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 09 X, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 09 7

Vol. 5; 13 Sep 1864 – 24 Jan 1868;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 10 3, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 10 3

Vol. 6; Apr 1868 – Dec 1876;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 15 4, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 15 8

Vol. 7; Jan 1877 – Jun 1883;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 27 8, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 27 1

Vol. 8; Jul 1883 – Jun 1892;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 28 6, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 28 8

Vol. 9; 1 Jul 1892 – 23 Dec 1898;
ISBN-10: 0 904117 29 4, ISBN-13: 978 0 904117 29 5

Vol. 10; The index to all 9 volumes, with corrections and supplementary material
ISBN-10: 0 904117 34 0, ISBN-13: 978 0 90411734 9

The Letters of Lewis Carroll: 2 volumes
Edited by Morton N Cohen with the assistance of Roger Lancelyn Green
London, Macmillan, 1979
ISBN: 0 333 08979 0

Dodgson was an avid, not to say compulsive, letter-writer, approaching perhaps a total of 50,000 during his lifetime. Now out of print, this is the largest collection, although shorter selections have been published and are still available. Two further volumes of letter have also been published, on specific subjects - these are Dodgson's letters to Macmillan (his publisher) and letters to the illustrators of his books (Tenniel, Furniss, et al), which are listed under the relevant sections of the Specialist Reading Lists.

Charles Dodgson's Life: Formal Biographies

The life of Charles Dodgson has become veiled by myths and mysteries and all biographies should be read with a certain amount of caution. The books listed here are by no means the only ones to provide reasonable accounts of Dodgson's life and some aspects of these books have been brought into question by later scholars. See the following section for more deeper analysis of Dodgson's life and the way it has been written about.

COLLINGWOOD, Stuart Dodgson
The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll (Rev. C.L. Dodgson)
London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1898

The first biography of Charles Dodgson, published in the year of his death by his nephew. It tends to be laudatory, even sycophantic, but has the advantage of being written with the complete diaries to hand, before certain volumes went missing. Out of print, of course, but it appears fairly regularly in booksellers’ catalogues.

Lewis Carroll: a Biography
London, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1979
ISBN: 0 460 04302 1

A straightforward and very readable introductory biography, following a chronological path through Dodgson’s life. Out of print, but reasonably easy to find. The author was one of the first biographers to make use of the manuscript diaries (albeit after certain pages and volumes went missing), whereas many before had made do with transcripts or the heavily abridged version. The book argues that Dodgson, at one point, wanted to marry Alice Liddell.

Lewis Carroll: an Illustrated Biography
London, Constable, 1976
ISBN: 0 09 464280 X

Originally published in 1954, Hudson’s book is a straightforward biography combining the chronological and topic approach. Still available, it has appeared in many editions and reprints. This illustrated edition includes photographs of Carroll’s relations, friends and acquaintances and examples of the work of the various illustrators of his books.

STOFFEL, Stephanie Lovett
Lewis Carroll and Alice
London, Thames and Hudson, 1997
ISBN: 0 500 30075 5

Brief, very attractive, pocket-sized introduction to all aspects of Dodgson’s life and world, profusely illustrated in colour and widely available.

WOOLF, Jenny
The Mystery of Lewis Carroll
London, Haus, 2010
ISBN: 978 1906598686

In this mid-length biography the author made extensive use of original source material and further explores the conclusions that can be drawn from examining Dodgson's financial records. It is a fresh approach to Dodgson and one which takes into consideration the new research done over the past 20 years. The author has her own Website with its own blog, and other frequently updated material.

Charles Dodgson's Life: Deeper Analysis

COHEN, Morton N.
Lewis Carroll: a Biography
London, Macmillan, 1995
ISBN: 0 333 62926 4

Cohen's approach to the biography of Dodgson is somewhat deeper and more interpretive than that of Anne Clark or Derek Hudson, dealing with aspects of his life rather than relying solely on a chronological approach. Beacuse the analysis tends to be deep and the style of writing is generally academic, it is not always the recommended biography for the casual reader, but is, perhaps, a greater source of information than the others.

LEACH, Karoline
In the Shadow of the Dreamchild
London, Peter Owen
First edition 1999 (ISBN: 0 7206 1044 3)
Revised and expanded edition 2009 (ISBN: 978 0 7206 1318 6)

The author has reassessed our understanding of Dodgson and has shown how biographers have often been misdirected in the past and how myths about the man have evolved. Some scholars believe that this work, on its own serves as a suitable biography of Dodgson, whilst others believe it serves better as a complement to the other biographies. The author has her own Website which contains further information about the book and other Dodgson related writing. The further exploration of the "Carroll Myths" is carried out on the website: Contrariwise, the association for new Lewis Carroll studies.

WOOLF, Jenny (ed, Intro, etc)
Lewis Carroll in his own Account
London, Jabberwock Press, 2005
ISBN: 0 9545416 0 8

This work is a transcription of Charles Dodgsonl's bank account, with introduction and notes. It is perhaps more for the specialist researcher, but it does present an unique view of certain activities in his life - and it likely to evoke the curiosity of all Dodgson scholars and to offer some new lines of enquiry for serious researchers. Further details are available from the website set up to accompany the book: Lewis Carroll in his Own Account


LOVETT, Charlie
Lewis Carroll’s England: an Illustrated Guide for the Literary Tourist
Luton, The Lewis Carroll Society, 1998
ISBN: 0 904117 14 6

Guide book to those sites in England and Wales associated with Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell suitable for tourists and enthusiasts who wish to visit. It also serves as an all round guide to the important activities in Dodgson's life.

Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture
Continuum, 2004
ISBN: 0 8264 1433 8

An exploration of how Lewis Carroll and Alice have permeated popular culture and become, in some sense, icons.

Lewis Carroll: Interviews and Recollections
Edited by Morton N. Cohen
Macmillan, 1989
ISBN: 0 333 41721 6

A diverse collection of pieces written by people who knew Charle Dodgson. In some respects this can be seen as presentig first-hand evidence of his personality and how he lived his life, together with extremely useful notes and explantions. Some comments, however, must be read with caution as memories and eulogies are not always 100% accurate.

STERN, Jeffrey
Lewis Carroll Bibliophile
The Lewis Carroll Society, 1997
ISBN: 0 904117 12 X

Facsimiles of the catalogues of Dodgson's library sold after his death, together with an introductory essay, notes and index.

LOVETT, Charlie
Lewis Carroll Among His Books
McFarland and Co., 2005
ISBN: 0 7864 2105 3

This book forms a bibliography of book in Dodgson's library. Taking the sale catalogues reproduced in Stern's Lewis Carroll Bibliophile as a starting point, together with other information about books in Dodgson's library (his letters, diaries, etc) the author has tried to identify the books and supply as much information as possible to produce, in effect, a catalogue of Dodgson's private library.

FOULKES, Richard
Lewis Carroll and the Victorian Stage
Ashgate, 2005
ISBN: 0 7546 0466 7

This scholarly account of Dodgson's interest in the theatre provides insights into many aspects of his life and although it has a rather specialist angle, it is also of value to the general reader.

Alice in Waterland
Signal Books, 2010
ISBN: 978 1 904955 72 6

A "literary journey of discovery" - taking the reader through 10 miles of Oxford's waterways - demonstrating their importance to the evolution of the Alice books. As well as revealling new discoveries and correcting a few myths, the book also serves as a good introduction to the story of how the Alice books originated. Further information at: