Oxford Contemporaries


Anyone studying the life and works of Charles Dodgson will find frequent references to Dodgson's contemporaries at Oxford. This brief guide gives some basic information about the key figures in Dodgson's Oxford life and a glossary of terms.

Oxford Contemporaries

Sir Henry Wentworth Acland (1815-1900)

Professor of Medicine, who revived the medical school which was in decline at the time. Elected honorary Student of Christ Church in 1858. The Liddell family doctor. ‘Founder’ of the University Museum.

Thomas Vere Bayne (1829-1908)

Friend of Dodgson from childhood. Student and Tutor at Christ Church, becoming Senior Student in 1858. Junior Censor 1863, Senior Censor 1870. Took the minutes at the Students’ meetings which led to the 1867 Reform Act. Curator of Common Room before Dodgson. (1862-1882).

Jules Bué (b.1817) & Henri Bué

Jules Bué of Magdalen College taught French at Oxford, and his son, Henri was responsible for the first translation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland into French, published 1869.

William Fishburn Donkin (1814-1869)

Professor of Astronomy 1842-1869. His niece Alice Jane Donkin (1851-1929) married Dodgson’s brother Wilfred on 9 August 1871.

Robinson Duckworth (1834-1911)

Present on the river trip to Godstow on 4 July 1862, when Alice's Adventures were first told, and features as the duck. Member of the Oxford Choral Society and renowned singer. Fellow of Trinity College 1860-1876 and Tutor to Prince Leopold. Appointed Canon of Westminster 1875.

Robert Godfrey Faussett (1827-1908)

Lifelong friend of Dodgson and his predecessor as Mathematical Lecturer. Later Steward of Christ Church, then Treasurer 1867-1886.

Thomas Fowler (1832-1904)

Mathematician. Lifelong friend and colleague of Dodgson. On the Whitby reading party in 1854. Fellow of Lincoln College 1855-1881. President of Corpus Christi from 1881. Professor of Logic 1873-1889.

Dean Gaisford

Dean of Christ Church until his death on 2 June 1855. His successor was Liddell.

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)

Undergraduate at Christ Church. Represented the University in Parliament but lost his seat in 1865 (the elections are parodied in The Dynamics of a Parti-cle, and Gladstone is the Wandering Burgess in Vision of the Three T’s where his political defeats are satirised). Presented the Bill for the 1867 Reform Act to Parliament. Became Prime Minister (seat at Greenwich) in 1868.

Harcourt family

Edward William Harcourt owner of Nuneham Courtney.
Aubrey Harcourt Son; fiancé of Edith Liddell.
Augustus Vernon Harcourt (1834-1919) Nephew; scientist and friend of Dodgson. One of the first two Senior Students of Christ Church who were elected under the 1858 Ordinance (elected 1859). He took an active role in the Students’ agitation for reform.

Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893)

Appointed to the Regius Professorship of Greek in 1855 by Lord Palmerston. His meagre salary was the subject of Endowment of the Greek Professorship and The New Method of Evaluation as Applied to pi. Master of Balliol.

George William Kitchin (1827-1912)

Student of Christ Church (under the 'Old Foundation').
Headmaster of Twyford Prep School, Winchester (attended by Harry Liddell, Edwin Dodgson and James Hume Dodgson. A number of pupils photographed by Dodgson in 1859). 
Returned to Christ Church as Junior Censor in 1862.
Married 1863, forfeiting his Studentship.
Historian, biographer and mathematician.
Later Dean of Winchester and Durham.
Father of Alexandra (Xie) - often photographed by Dodgson.

Henry George Liddell (1811-1898)

Headmaster of Westminster School. Dean of Christ Church 1856-1891. Co-author of the Greek Lexicon (with Robert Scott). Father of Alice Pleasance Liddell, for whom Alice’s Adventures Underground was written. Alice and her siblings were child friends of Dodgson, and frequently photographed.

Henry Parry Liddon (1829-1890)

Student of Christ Church (under the 'Old Foundation'), renowned for his eloquent preaching.
Went on a tour to Russia with Dodgson 1867.
Later Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Frederick Max Müller (1823-1900)

Lifelong friend of Dodgson. Fellow of All Souls and member of Christ Church Common Room. Professor of Comparative Philology – the proposal to pension him off on half salary and appoint his successor on the other half was the subject of three papers by Dodgson titled The Professorship of Comparative Philology.

Charles Francis Needham (Viscount Newry) (1842-1915)

Undergraduate at Christ Church and on good terms with the Liddell Family.

Professor Bartholomew (Bat) Price (1818-1898)

Mathematician. Leader of the Whitby reading party (summer 1854) attended by Dodgson preparing for the final Mathematical Schools. Dodgson’s friend and mentor. Master of Pembroke College. Delegate to the Clarendon Press. (Oxford University Press, printers of the first edition of Alice’s Adventures, Notes by an Oxford Chiel and Liddell & Scott’s Greek Lexicon.)

Mary Prickett Governess to the Liddell children.

Married Charles Foster, a local wine merchant, and became proprietress of the Mitre Hotel, Oxford.

Thomas Jones Prout (1823-1909)

Student and Junior Censor of Christ Church, becoming Senior Student in 1858. Leading role in the Students’ campaign for reform, known as ‘the man who slew the canons’. Vicar of Binsey from 1857. It has been suggested that he is the inspiration for the dormouse.

Dr Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882)

Contemporary of Dodgson’s father at Christ Church. Appointed Canon of Christ Church and Regius Professor of Hebrew in 1828. Nominated Dodgson for a Studentship under the Old Foundation.

John Ruskin (1819-1890)

Undergraduate at Christ Church 1836-1840. Professor of Art 1870-1879 and 1883-1884. ‘Founder’ of the University Museum. Alice Liddell’s drawing master.

Edward Francis Sampson (1848-1918)

Assistant Mathematical Lecturer to Dodgson and longstanding friend.

Charles Waldegrave Sandford

Student and Tutor at Christ Church, becoming Senior Student in 1858. Censor from 1861. Chaired the Student meetings which lead to the 1867 Reform Act.

Dr Robert Scott (1811-1887)

Co-author with Dean Liddell of the Greek Lexicon. Master of Balliol.

Reginald Southey (1835-1899)

Student at Christ Church - studied science and medicine. Became doctor in skin diseases at St. Bartholomew’s, London. Fellow-photographer with Dodgson including skeletons in the Christ Church collection and the Liddell, Cameron and Tennyson children.

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881)

Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Canon of Christ Church. Later Dean of Westminster. Friend of Liddell and of Jowett – his proposal to increase Jowett’s salary referred to in ‘Penrhyn’s Method’ in The New Method of Evaluation as Applied to pi.

Thomas Banks Strong (1861-1944)

Succeeded Dodgson as Curator of Common Room in 1892. Later became Dean of Christ Church and subsequently Bishop of Oxford.

Samuel Wilberforce

Bishop of Oxford – ordained Dodgson Deacon on 22 December 1861. Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley were opponents in the great Darwinian Debate organised by the University at the University Museum in June 1860.



A small village, north west of Oxford, close to the Thames. The small well in the Churchyard here, was known as a “Treacle Well” and is referred to in the Dormouse's story in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.


Senior Censor and Junior Censor - two Christ Church Students who were responsible for discipline within the college.


Village on the Thames, upstream of Binsey, and a favourite picnic site.

Greek Lexicon

Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott produced the first comprehensive Greek- English lexicon, an exhaustive dictionary of Greek vocabulary and word-stems, and an invaluable aid to translating from Greek into English.

Nuneham Courtney and Nuneham Park

5 miles south of Oxford, on the Thames, the country seat of the Harcourt family and a popular picnic site (by invitation).

Old Foundation

Originally founded as ‘Cardinal College’ in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey, Christ Church was re-founded and renamed in 1546 by King Henry VIII. Henry endowed his new college with sufficient revenue to provide for a Dean, eight Canons, three Professors and 100 Students. Apart from the addition of a further Studentship at the Restoration, the Old Foundation of Henry VIII remained unchanged until 1858.

Reform Act

The Royal Commission of 1850 (of whom Liddell was a member) prompted a series of reforms in the 1850’s, each achieving a measure of change. Campaigning by the Senior Students resulted in the further reforms of the Christ Church Oxford Act 1867, which gave the Senior Students a place on the college Governing Body and a role in the running of the college, at a time when Liddell was now Dean.


Prior to 1858, Christ Church had 101 Students in receipt of a small stipend. 40 were undergraduates (the equivalent of Scholars); the remainder were postgraduates. No new Students were appointed under the terms of the Old Foundation after 1858 and their numbers gradually dwindled. However, the system, revised by Liddell, remained for Junior Students (the equivalent of undergraduate scholarships).

Senior Student

In 1858, the eight Students who had become college Tutors/Lecturers were appointed Senior Students – the equivalent of fellows at other colleges. As Mathematical Lecturer, Dodgson automatically became a Senior Student. Subsequent Senior Students were elected through open competition.


This page is based on material compiled by Catherine Richards with the assistance of Edward Wakeling. Further content has been provided by Mark Richards and Michael O'Connor. Corrections made by Mark Davies.