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Friday, August 12, 2011

The Deathly Art of Santa Maria Della Concezione

The skeleton here is enclosed within an aureole, the symbol
of life coming to birth.  The right hand holds a scythe - the
symbol of death.  The left hand holds scales for judging the soul.

The Santa Maria Della Concezione dei Cappuccini (Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins) is a Roman church commissioned by Pope Urban VIII in 1626. His brother, Cardinal Antonio Barberini, was a member of the Capuchin order. Capuchins are named for the hood (capuche) that is attached to their religious habit, and separated from the Franciscans in 1525 in order to get back to the roots of the Order.  When this church was built Cardinal Barberini ordered the remains of thousands of Capuchin friars who had died to be exhumed and their bones brought to the new church, so that all might be in one place.

Image courtesy of flickr.

Here the bones were arranged along the walls, and the friars continued to bury their dead here.  The bodies of poor Romans were also buried here.  The Capuchins would gather here each evening to pray and reflect.  A plaque in one of the chapels reads (in three languages):  "What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be."

The crypt of the leg bones and thigh bones.  In the niches are skeletons dressed
in the Capuchin habit.  On the wall to the left is the Franciscan coat-of-arms.

The crypt of the pelvies.  On either side are friars reclining.  The rear wall
has three friars leaning forward.  Along with pelvises, vertebrae are used.

The crypt of the skulls.  Here, too, are friars reclining.

The church was designed by Antonio Casoni, and was built between 1626 and 1631.  There is a small nave, and several chapels to the side.  One of the chapels contains the body of St. Felix of Cantalice.  Noted for his piety, he composed simple canticles and taught groups of children to sing them to teach them catechism.  He was beatified in 1625 by Pope Urban VIII, and canonized in 1712 by Pope Clement XI.

San Felice da Cantalice by Peter Paul Reubens, 17th century.
Image courtesy of Santi Beati

It is also the burial place of Crispin of Viterbo, known when he was young as "el Santarello" (the little saint), who was a follower of St. Felix.  St. Crispin was beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1806, and was the first saint canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

St. Crispin of Viterbo.  Image courtesy of www.capuchins.org. 

The chapels contain many religious works of arts by well-known Italian artists and sculptors.  But the church is most famous as an ossuary, where the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin friars, collected between 1528 and 1870, are displayed in what as known as the Capuchin Crypt.  The practice was eventually banned by hygiene laws.

These bones form a frame for a picture of Jesus commanding Lazarus to come out of the
tomb alive.  To the Capuchins this illustrates the Christian belief in the resurrection.

The bones are displayed as decorations of the Baroque and Rococo styles.  As a tourist attraction, the crypt once rivaled the Roman Catacombs.  The underground crypt is divided into five chapels but are only lit by natural light coming through cracks in the ceiling, and small fluorescent lights.  Some of the skeletons are intact and draped with habits, but mostly bones are used for the elaborate decorative designs.

The Marquis de Sade visited the crypt and wrote, "I have never seen anything more striking."  Mark Twain was a visitor in 1867, and wrote five pages about it in his book Innocents Abroad.  According to the official website, the message here is clear:  death closes the gates of time, and opens those of eternity.

Unless otherwise noted, all images from the official website.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Laurelton Hall

Tiffany lamps.   Image courtesy of Ophir/Flickr.

The name "Tiffany" evokes wondrous stained glass images, especially lamps.  I remember when I was a young girl any lamp that looked like a stained glass one was called a "Tiffany" lamp, even if it was made of colored plastic.  Now they are called "Tiffany-style lamps", but that is often a dubious connection.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, circa 1908.
Image courtesy of LOC.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was an American artist and designer best known for his stained glass, but he also worked in jewelry, enamel, metalwork, ceramics, blown glass, and glass mosaics.  He is the American artist most representative of the Art Nouveau movement.

"Market Day Outside the Walls of Tangiers, Morocco" 1873.
Image courtesy of the Smithsonian.

Born in New York in 1848, his first training as an artist was in painting, studying in both New York and Paris.  He became interested in glassmaking and began working at several glass houses in Brooklyn.  In 1879, he formed "Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists" with Samuel Colman, Lockwood de Forest, and Candace Wheeler.  The business was successful.

The library opens up to a conservatory in Mark Twain's home.  Interior
design by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists.
Image courtesy of The Mark Twain House and Museum.

In 1881, he designed the interior of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut.  But the firm's most noteworthy assignment was in 1882, when Chester Arthur refused to move into the White House until it had been redone. Tiffany redid the East Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the East Dining Room, and the Entrance Hall.  He refurnished , repainted, designed mantelpieces, wallpapers, and added Tiffany glass to the gaslight fixtures.  He also did windows, and added the floor-to-ceiling glass screen in the Entrance Hall.

The Entrance Hall in 1882 with Tiffany glass screen to left.
Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnson, White House Historical Association.

The firm was disbanded in 1885 when Tiffany decided to concentrate on glass and opened the Tiffany Studios.  Because he could not get the glass he wanted, he made his own.  He began using opalescent glass in a wide array of colors and textures.  This was in contrast to the dominant style used then, which consisted of colorless glass that was painted.  The use of colored glass was considered the new American style of stained glass, and other American artists adopted it.

Blown favrile glass, 1896-1902 by Tiffany Glass.  Favrile was a type of glass
designed and named by Tiffany.  It is an iridescent art glass where the color is
embedded in the glass.  He also used the glass in stained glass windows.
Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

But Tiffany used all of his artistic skills in all the media he worked in to create his own home, Laurelton Hall.  This was in Laurel Hollow, Long Island, New York. The 65-room mansion, and 600 acre estate was completed in 1905, and housed many of his best works.  Every aspect of it, inside and out, was designed by him.

The front of Laurelton Hall.
Rear view of Laurelton Hall.

In 1918 it became the location for a residential school for artists called The Tiffany Art Foundation.  A separate building was made for the Tiffany Chapel, which had several significant windows, and a separate art gallery building.  The interior of the Chapel was one that Tiffany had created for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  Tiffany set up a foundation to support the art school, museum, and studio.

The "Spring" fountain.

Fountain overlooking Cold Harbor
Glass-covered connecting bridge.

After his death in 1933, the estate fell into disrepair.  The Foundation suffered from financial problems, and sold Laurelton Hall in 1949.  It had cost about $2 million to build, including landscaping the grounds, but it was sold for only $10,000.  A fire destroyed much of what remained in 1957.

Living room.
Reconstructed loggia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Details of capitols of the loggia.

Hugh McKean had been a fellow at Laurelton Hall when he was a young man.  At the invitation of Tiffany's daughter he and his wife, Jeannette Genius McKean, salvaged what they could after the fire, and were able to remove a majority of the windows and some of the other architectural pieces.  They then spent the next 30 years collecting as much of Tiffany's work as they could.  Eventually they had the world's foremost Tiffany collection composed of the finest of his work from all the media he had mastered.

Hugh McKean looking over the fire damage, circa 1957.
Image courtesy of the Morse Museum.

In 1942 the McKeans had founded the Morse Museum of American Art on the campus of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.  Named for Mrs. McKean's grandfather, Charles Hosmer Morse - an industrialist and philanthropist - the museum was relocated in 1977 in Winter Park.  In 1995, a new museum was constructed from a former bank and office buildings, and in 1999, the museum built a new gallery with 6,000 square feet of space to house the Tiffany collection. This was at the cost of $5 billion.

A daffodil capitol from the daffodil terrace.  Each petal is made of glass
from 12 different molds.  Stems are of blue-green glass embedded in concrete.
Photo courtesy of Raymond Martinot/Morse Museum.
The daffodil terrace reconstructed at the Morse Museum.
The original terrace served as the entry to Laurelton Hall.

The centerpiece of this private museum is the Tiffany collection.  The materials from Laurelton Hall include Tiffany's most prized paintings, art glass, pottery, and furniture, as well as windows and lamps.  Most of these objects were from international expositions.  There are also archival materials at the museum, including Tiffany's letters, designs, photographs, plans, and ephemera.

Wisteria panel.  Image courtesy of the Morse Museum.

Thankfully, the McKeans had the foresight and means to see that Tiffany's outstanding work was not lost.  It is sad that, unlike other countries, the United States does not have a National Treasures program. If it had, Laurelton Hall might have survived intact - a testimony to an amazing American artist.

Photographs of Laurelton Hall courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Check out the Morse Museum website

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"Eat what you want, exercise your prerogative, and
find a good plastic surgeon who gives frequent-flyer miles."
Miss Piggy

Miss Piggy in 2009.

One of the nicest Valentine's Day gifts my husband ever gave me, and there have been lots of nice ones, was the complete DVD collection of The Muppet Show.  I love the Muppets, and in particular Miss Piggy.

Although she began as a minor character on the show, she eventually became one of the central ones.  Despite all attempts to convey an image of feminine allure, she can instantly morph into her true cheeky and aggressive self at the least little provocation, which usually involves her paramour, Kermit the Frog.

Played by Frank Oz from 1976 until he retired in 2002, she is now voiced by Eric Jacobson.  She was originally designed in 1974 by Bonnie Erickson.  Erickson has stated in an interview that the character was first named Miss Piggy Lee, after famous jazz singer Peggy Lee.  It was considered both a joke and a homage.  But when Miss Piggy's fame grew, the "Lee" was dropped in an effort to avoid offending Peggy Lee.

Bonnie Erickson with Statler in 1975.
Photo courtesy of Wayde Harrison/Smithsonian.

On one episode when Herb Alpert was a guest, a sexy female was needed to interact with him.  Erickson took one of the three pig puppets, dressed it in purple satin with purple gloves and pearls, went to the "eye drawer" (how fun!) and pulled out those baby blues and.....ouila!  A diva was born.

Jim Henson and Bonnie Erickson making pigs.

Her father messed around with other sows, leaving her mom to raise the multitude of piglets.  Miss Piggy decided early on that was not the life for her.  She moved to the city where she took any job she could - selling gloves at a department store, walking a sandwich board for a barbeque stand, even doing an ad for bacon after winning a beauty contest, until she hooked up with the Muppets.  She learned karate via correspondence school to protect herself from overzealous fans (and she uses it aggressively at times).

Image courtesy of www.toughpigs.com.

She is always trying to get Kermit to marry her.  In The Muppets Take Manhattan they are finally married during the finale.  While Miss Piggy insists that this is the real deal, Kermit explains that they were both actors in a show and they were acting.  Miss Piggy explained on This Morning that they have to keep the controversy up because of the numbers of men who lust after her, so they have agreed to say they are not married when they are in public.

Miss Piggy seems to like to create some confusion about her name.  In one Muppet Show episode she is referred to as Piggy Lee, and ten episodes later she tells guest star Avery Schreiber that Piggy is short for "Pigathius" (sometimes she says "Pigathia"), which is from the Greek for "river of passion".  In a guest appearance in 2007 she stated her real first name is "Miss".

In 1981, Miss Piggy published her spectacular guide to life, which included fashion and dieting advice.  ("Never wear yellow lipstick."  "Never eat more than you can lift.")  This was on the New York Times bestseller list for 29 weeks, peaking at #5 in July of that year.

Published by Knopf in 1981.
German edition by Ullstein Verlag, 1984.

She also came out with an exercise video in 1982 - Miss Piggy's Aerobique Workout Album - not to be left out of the glut of exercise videos that were so popular in the 80s.  Hers was #206 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Top LP's chart.  (I remember one I liked:  "Swallow, deep breathe, take a bite, chew, chew, chew...")

She attributes her success to "talent, beauty, intelligence, wit.  And Modesty." Accompanied by her pet poodle, Foo-Foo, she is the ultimate fashionista.  She insists that her frog does not want her to lose weight.  When asked about competing with thinner women for film roles, she states that she enjoys working with them.  "There's never a line at the craft-services table."  She also released her own perfume - "Moi" - in 1998.

Of course, in most of her movies she is the star.  So far she has made nine Muppet movies, including my favorite, Muppet Treasure Island from 1996.  Besides the Muppets TV shows, she has appeared on many TV specials with a variety of hosts, from Ed Sullivan to Selena Gomez.  Add to those commercials, music videos, and other guest appearances, and she has quite a busy schedule.

First Mate Piggy of the USS Swinetrek.

A remarkable career for a porcine diva born of necessity.  For 35 years she has been a role model for glamour and the steadfast pursuit of fame.  Yet she never ages.  Here's to at least 35 more years!

Unless otherwise stated, images courtesy of www.muppet.wikia.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Aiding Farmers; Aiding Ourselves

"I've always believed that the most important people
on the planet are the ones who plant the seeds and 
care for the soil where they are grown" - Willie Nelson

On September 22, 1985, a concert was staged in Champaign, Illinois, to benefit U.S. family farmers.  Early that year another concert, Live Aid, was held simultaneously at two locations - Wembley Stadium in London and the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia.  The Farm Aid event was sparked by a comment made at Live Aid by Bob Dylan, who hoped that some of the money earned at Live Aid would benefit American farmers who were struggling with mortgage debt. The Live Aid event was held to raise funds for the famine in Ethiopia.

The Farm Aid concert was organized by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young.  The event raised over $9 million, and was attended by 800,000 people. Among the performers were Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Hoyt Axton, the Beach Boys, Arlo Guthery, Merle Haggard, Rickie Lee Jones, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Willie Nelson, organizer and board member of Farm Aid, performing in
Santa Ynez, California.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 1987, Nelson and Mellencamp accompanied family farmers who testified before Congress on the state of family farming.  Subsequently, Congress passed the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 to help protect family farms from foreclosure.

John Mellencamp, board member.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Farm Aid continues to work as an organization to increase awareness of the plights of family farms.  They still put on annual concerts to raise funds.  The organization also established a disaster fund for farmers who were victims of natural disasters, such as Katrina and this year's tornadoes.  The board of directors include Nelson, Mellencamp, Young, and Dave Matthews.  Altogether they have raised over $39 million in funds so far.

Dave Matthews, board member.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

This year's concert will be held this Saturday, August 13th, at the Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas.  Nelson, Mellencamp, Young, and Matthews will be joined by performers such as Jason Mraz, Jakob Dylan, Ray Price, and the Blackwood Quartet.

Image courtesy of the Farm Aid website.

Saving family farms benefits us all.  When they succumb to foreclosure, it limits our food choices to low-quality food produced on factory farms.  One of the organization's agendas is to educate the public on the issues with genetically-modified food and growth hormones, while stressing the advantages of eating locally.  By supporting Farm Aid we not only help family farms, but ourselves.

"If you want a better world, it starts with you."
John Mellencamp

Visit the website.
Also check out their sister website.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spuriouser and Spuriouser: Can Louis Carroll Ever "Dodg"(son) His Reputation?

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, 1855.

Charles Dodgson, as Lewis Carroll, is most famous for his book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  His character, Alice, has become a female archetype of her own - the curious female who takes all things in stride and with aplomb.  In fact, Alice is so popular in her own right that she continues to be a character in the writings of authors of books, stories, manga, and is even in video games.

Sir John Tenniel's illustration of Alice, 1865.

Dodgson, however, has erroneously been assigned to a reputation undeserved.

Charles Dodgson was a precocious child, and later considered gifted in school, although he apparently did not always apply himself.  He had a particular talent in math.  He also suffered from stuttering, which his siblings also contended with. Despite this lifelong problem, he was an engaging storyteller, sang in public, and enjoyed charades.  He was tall and thin, and reported to be a bit awkward and stiff, some say because of a knee injury.  Thus his physical appearance and stammer may have made him appear a bit, well, weird.  He was also deaf in one ear, no doubt adding to his oddness to some eyes.

The famous portrait of Alice Liddell as a beggar-maid from the story of
Cophetua, a king who fell in love with a beggar.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

He began writing at an early age, mostly for his family's magazine, Mischmasch. His work was humorous and satirical.  Some works were written under his chosen pen name of Lewis Carroll - a play on his real name, Lewis anglicized from Ludovicus (Latin for Lutwidge) and Carroll from the Latin Carolus (Charles). When he committed to writing his story of Alice, he chose his pen name to publish it under.  He reserved Dodgson for his mathematical works.

Posthumous portrait of Dodgson by Hubert von Herkomer from a photograph,
circa 1898.  Perhaps the most honest thing done to him posthumously!

In 1856, Dodgson took up photography, a new art medium, influenced by his uncle.  Photography had been invented in the 1830s but it wasn't until the 1850s that the wet collodion process was invented, making the medium available to amateurs.  Sitting for a photograph took about ten seconds and was much more natural if there was a bond between subject and photographer, so many children were not suitable candidates.  This may be why he took so many of those children who he had a rapport with.  Not many photographers at this time risked taking pictures of children because of their restlessness - most shot landscapes where there was no or little movement involved.

Two of Dodgson's landscapes here and below, circa 1861.
This is Magdalen Tower, Oxford.

Whitby, a seaside resort in Yorkshire.

A frustrated draughtsman (his friend John Ruskin discouraged him from drawing), he thought of photography as a replacement and signed his photos "from the Artist". He excelled at photography, and soon pushed the medium to its then limits. He quit photography in 1880, for various reasons.  It was expensive (think of the expense of printing pictures before digital cameras took over), and he wanted to devote his time to writing.

"The Young Mathematician."  Dodgson's brother, Edwin, with the family dog, Dido.

Only 1,000 of the approximate 3,000 of his photographs have survived; many were destroyed deliberately.  Roger Taylor and Edward Wakefield have researched his photographs.  With only a third of his photos surviving, it is hard to make any assumptions, but they determined that about half of the surviving photos are of young girls.  He did photograph many adults as well, and photography served to introduce him to a higher social circle.  What photos are extant reflects more on who saved them and why than Dodgson, however.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, albumen print, 1863.  Image
courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Much has been surmised and assumed about his interest in young girls, although there is no evidence of anything untoward going on.  None of the girls, nor their families, have left any record of scandal.  A number of his friendships with these young girls lasted from their childhoods into their adult years.  There are some nudes, though very few, of young girls that he took, but their parents were at the scene and they were taken with the parents permission.

John Everett Millair and his wife Effie Gray Millair
with their daughters Effie and Mary, 1865.

This turns out to be the real problem.  History, or looking back at past events, is a dangerous and often treacherous endeavor.  Besides the lack of well-rounded data, it is important to see things through the eyes of the culture of that time.  In the Victorian era, when Dodgson lived, nude young girls were seen as examples of the innocence of youth and of purity, not the lusty prurience that we look upon them today.  Below are photos taken by two other artists of the time:

Study of a nude child by Julia Margaret Cameron, c. 1865.
Image courtesy www.geh.org.
Study of a nude child by Oscar Rejlander, c. 1880s.  Image courtesy of zeno.org.

Clearly this art image comes from cherubs - those sweet, adorable, and nude little angels seen in paintings through the ages.  Only later paintings show them swathed in clothing.  During the Victorian era cards and photos of naked youths were common, some even used for Christmas cards.

Three Cherubs in the Shade, Vienna.  Image courtesy Philip Greenspun.

The problem arose from the short list of biographers that chose to document Dodgson's life.  The first was by his nephew, Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, published less than year after his death.  It paints a saintly view of not only Charles Dodgson, but the whole family.  Since the nephew wasn't considering thoughts of pedophilia, he put too much emphasis on his uncle's saintly love of young girls, and suppressed evidence of relationships with adult women.

Alexandra "Xie" Rhoda Kitchin.  "Xie" is pronounced "Ecksie".

Although he couldn't secure the Dodgson's family help, and thus had no access to any private papers, Herbert Langford Reed wrote a biography anyway.  What he lacked in fact, he made up.  He diagnosed Dodgson with a split personality due to the fact that he occasionally wrote in different colored inks.  He stated that Dodgson had no interest at all in adult women, and was the first to claim that Dodgson ended his friendships with girls when they reached puberty.  He, of course, provided no evidence for any of it since there was none, but it biased many people's minds for generations.

Xie at age five in 1869.  Dodgson once said that
if you wanted excellence in photography,
get Xie and put her in front of a lens.

In 1945, Florence Becker Lennon wrote her book.  Not being able to access any info from the Dodgson family, despite several attempts, and being part of the Freudian school, she used the first two books as references.  She offered a Freudian explanation for Dodgson's interest, simply stating that he loved little girls. The pedophile was officially created.

George William Kitchin, 1859, image courtesy of
National Portrait Gallery, London

Alexander Taylor wrote a book about Dodgson's mathematics and religion, but was told by his publisher that he needed some salacious tidbits in it.  Again, there was no cooperation with the Dodgson family, so he went on his own, stating that he had no doubts that Dodgson was in love with Alice Liddell, offering Dodgson's love poetry as proof, avowing it was inspired by Liddell.  (In truth, no one knows who the poems were written for or about.)

"Saint George and the Dragon", 1875, featuring the Kitchin children -
Brook, Hugh, Herbert, and Xie.

At last a book came out based on a typescript by Dodgson's niece in 1953 - The Diaries of Lewis Carroll.  Editor Roger Lancelyn Green claimed that nothing had been left out, but in truth only half of the diaries was presented.  He had never seen the original material.  Yet he never mentioned this, and gave editorial commentary suggesting that there was much factual data that Dodgson was "innocent".  Since this publication was in the guise of real evidence, it was influential even though distorted.

Brook Kitchin as St. George, 1875.

The next year The Life of Lewis Carroll by Derek Hudson came out.  This was in response to Alexander Taylor's book criticizing him for knocking Dodgson off his pedestal.  Known as the "Apologists", Hudson and Green among others thought that even if Dodgson was a pedophile, even if only in his desires, his actions were harmless, so let's forget about it.  The general public took this as meaning that Dodgson was a pedophile.

The Twyford School Cricket Eleven, 1859.

When the Dodgson family finally released his papers, including his full diaries, Anne Clark wrote a biography, Lewis Carroll.  Even though she had more data then anyone before her, she pretty much went along with what had been written, adding that he did have some relationships with adult women.  She also was free with her spurious ideas.  She is still quoted today, as is her unsubstantial fact that Dodgson dedicated everything to Alice Liddell, extending the myth.

Wilfred Hatch at age 7 in a sailor's costume, 1872.

Morton Cohen wrote what is in some respects a very scholarly and well-researched biography in 1995, Lewis Carroll, a Biography.  This was marketed as the "definitive" biography, and some people still think so.  But other than questioning the whole pedophile notion, he added to the number of women he had relationships with, and concludes that he had a predilection for young girls and supported the Alice story.  He also was inventive with some facts.

Clement Male, 1859.

More recently scholars have challenged what has become known as the "Carroll Myth" - this widely distorted perception of him.  Generally scholars now claim that the biographies of Dodgson's life suffer from inaccuracies, and since key evidence was unavailable these specious works mushroomed without restraint.  The "Carroll Myth" was so ingrained in the public mind by the time his papers were released that their release had little or no effect.  If his papers are examined with an open mind, they will show that most of what has been written about him is false, or exaggerated, in particular his pedophila and "obsessiveness" with young girls.

Alice Liddell at 5 years old, 1857.

In 1999, two authors set forth their own theories.  Hugues Lebailly is a French scholar at the Sorbonne.  His works stress the "Victorian Child Cult", and that biographers have erroneously viewed Dodgson's photography with modern eyes, rather than the aesthetic of the time.  Karoline Leach published her book, In the Shadow of the Dreamchild, which created a seismic furor among Carrollians when it was first published, and it is still considered very controversial.  She draws attention to his relationships with adult women, often scandalous, and that in order to suppress these affairs his family inadvertently gave the false impression that he only liked young girls.

Evelyn Hatch, age 8, 1879, hand-colored by Anne Lydia Bond per instructions.

Sherry Ackerman is a recent player in the Carrollian games.  Her 2008 book, Behind the Looking Glass, looks at the Neoplatonic Revival and its effects on Dodgson's writings.  Others involved in the "Carroll Myth" include John Tufail, Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti, Pascale Renaud-Grosbras, and Christopher Hollingsworth.

A blue-fin tunny fish acquired by Dean Henry Liddell.  This is currently
displayed at the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

Morton Cohen and Martin Gardner are opponents of the "Carroll Myth".  Gardner was a leading math and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics.  He was also a leading authority on Dodgson, and his annotated versions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass examine the mathematical riddles and wordplay in the books.  This is apropos, since Dodgson was not only a mathematician, producing almost a dozen works in his real name, but loved games of logic and words, and loved inventing gadgets.  (One of his inventions was The Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case, basically a folder for stamps which included a copy of his lecture about letter-writing.  This reflects his quirky sense of humor.)

The Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case, 1890, image courtesy of Charles Parkhurst Rare Books.

There are many societies and groups devoted to him, and the search for the true Dodgson goes on.  As stated in the mission statement of Contrariwise (see link below), Dodgson has been the victim, not the subject of his biographies.  I suppose it's too much to ask that he be judged just for his work alone, but perhaps he would have enjoyed the controversy.

Unless otherwise noted, images courtesy of this excellent site.
Contrariwise is the association for new Lewis Carroll studies.