Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Unrecorded Lewis Carroll Photos of His Young Girl Friends Discovered

by Stephen J. Gertz

Beatrice Hatch

Previously unknown photographs  taken by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, of two his young girl friends / models have surfaced. Accompanying them is a significant four page letter written and signed by Dodgson, it, too, heretofore unrecorded, requesting a mother to allow her daughter to visit him.  Additionally, a  copy of Carroll's slight, four-page work, An Easter Greeting (1876), in pristine condition is included in the lot, which very recently sold prior to public offer.

Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898) enthusiastically took up photography, a new and exciting medium, in 1856. Though his photographs of little girls, nude or clothed, are somewhat notorious and, apparently, made up the bulk of his photographic studies, he was a respected portrait and  landscape photographer who also captured adult men, women, and all manner of objects with his camera, and sold the prints. By 1880, when he quit photography, he had taken over 3,000 photographs, only 1,000 of which have survived the ravages of time and intentional destruction.

These items were, early in the twentieth century, bound by Riviere into a presentation album for a collector. The details to each are as follows:

• A sepia-toned photograph, 4 x 2 1/2 inches, by Dodgson of a young girl, Beatrice Hatch, titled by Dodgson in purple ink in the lower blank margin, "The Little Acrobat." It is inscribed by Dodgson on the verso: "Miss Effie Neef from the Artist Nov. 11/79." Beatrice Hatch was the oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Hatch. Together with her sisters, Ethel and Evelyn, she was a long-term favorite of Dodgson, her parents raising no objection to her posing nude for his camera.

• A sepia-toned photograph, 4 x 2 1/2 inches, by Dodgson, of a young girl, Alexandra Kitchin, titled by Dodgson in purple ink, "Xie" in the lower blank margin. Inscribed by Dodgson on the verso, "Miss Effie Neef from the Artist Nov. 11/79," and includes the image number "2476" in his hand. Xie was the daughter of a senior colleague of Dodgson's at Christ Church, G.W. Kitchin. A strikingly beautiful young girl, Xie was the subject of many of his finest portraits and was possibly his favorite model of all, photographing her from childhood through her adult life.

Alexandra Kitchin

Biographical information on the recipient of these two photos, "Effie Neef," is wanting, but there is a photograph by Dodgson of John Ruskin in the Berol Collection  of Carroll material (Series 4, Subseries A, Box 7, Folder 569) at New York University's Fales Library with the identical inscription and date on the verso.

• An interesting and important four page letter dated July 14, 1891, written and signed in his hand, which appears to be heretofore unrecorded. Within, he asks that a parent allow her daughter to visit him in London, and provides sizes and prices for his photographs, as silver or platinum prints.

Dear Mrs. Stevens,

Here are the prices at which you can buy for yourself further prints of Enid [sizes, Carte and Cabinet, and prices].

The large mounts (such as I have given you) will be the same price as the cabinets, and there will be no extra charge for vignetting. I had half a mind to ask you, viva voce, the question I am going to write: but, on second thoughts, I adhered to my rule, which is, 'when you make a request which perhaps your friend may not grant, do it in writing, so as to give him time to choose a form of words for the purpose: it is sometimes a difficult thing to express it as one would like to.' 

My question is 'may I regard it as a possibility that Winnie might be allowed to come to Eastbourne for a few days?' As I have told you, I am used, now, to having lady-guests: & they don't find it uncomfortable! I suppose she could come as far as Paddington alone? If she went by the 10:57, she would reach Paddington at 12:15, & I would meet her there. The train runs the whole way without a pause. And, when she returned, I would see her off by a similar train, the 4:45, which would land her at Oxford at 6:30 (of course I would pay her whole RW fare. She wouldn't object to second class, I suppose?

If I may assume such a plan is possible I would look out for a convenient opportunity. 

Very sincerely yours, 

C.L. Dodgson

The recipient of the letter, Mrs. Stevens, was the mother of Winifred (Winnie) Stevens and Enid Stevens (referred to in the letter). Dodgson met Winnie while lecturing in logic at Oxford High School and they became lifelong friends. When he met her younger sister, Enid, he wrote to her mother that he had "lost considerable fraction (say 25) of my heart to your little daughter and I hope you will allow me further opportunities to trying whether of no we can become real friends."

• A fine copy of the first printing of An Easter Greeting (1876). It reads, in part:

Dear Child,

Please to fancy, if you can, that you are reading a real letter, from a real friend whom you have seen, and whose voice you can seem to yourself to hear, wishing you, as I do now with all my heart, a happy Easter…

…Surely your gladness need not be the less for the thought that you will one day see a brighter dawn than this - when lovelier sights will meet your eyes than any waving trees or rippling waters - when angel-hands shall undraw your curtains, and sweeter tones than ever loving Mother breathed shall wake you to a new and glorious day - and when all the sadness, and the sin,  that darkened life on this little earth, shall be forgotten like the dreams of a night that is past!

Your affectionate friend,

Lewis Carroll,
Easter, 1876

CARROLL, Lewis (pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Presentation Album With Four Lewis Carroll Rarities.

A bound volume containing two signed Dodgson photographs (each dated 1879), a four-page autograph letter signed (1891), and a first printing of An Easter Greeting (1876). Octavo (7 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches). Four thick leaves, each item mounted and delicately hinged within a  shallow panel to allow viewing to both sides.

Full early twentieth century blue polished calf by Riviere.  French fillets with corner ornaments, raised bands with gilt rolls, gilt-ornamented compartments, gilt dentelles, red morocco gilt-lettered spine labels. All edges gilt. Each item in fine condition within a fine binding.

Other examples of Lewis Carroll / Charles L. Dodgson's photography can be found here and here.

An interesting article about Charles Lutwidge Dogson / Lewis Carroll and his young girl friends, What Was Lewis Carroll Thinking?, that originally appeared in the New York Times on April 7, 2002, can be read here.

N.B.: Though I am privy to the details of this sale I cannot, for reasons of professional courtesy and discretion, publicly disclose the buyer, or specific price paid beyond that it was in five figures.  Booktryst gratefully extends its thanks to the parties involved for permission to publish all images.

1 comment:

  1. The "Easter Greeting" was added by Lewis Carroll to the 1st edition of "The Hunting of the Snark" *after* it was printed in 1876:


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