Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll - was a mathematician, photographer, and writer of stories, books and poems that he liked to call "nonsense." His best-known works were the stories he wrote to entertain Alice Liddell, the young daughter of his boss at Oxford University. Carroll's fictional Alice was a plucky young girl who navigated a world of make-believe in books like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. By day, Charles Dodgson worked with math and logic, in a world where things followed absolute, linear rules. In his fiction he let his imagination run wild. We couldn't have The Matrix or Harry Potter without Lewis Carroll. He showed us it was okay to let your weird side run wild in the creative process. Think it's a coincidence that Marilyn Manson is a fan?
Lewis Carroll's life presents some difficult contradictions. He is the author of some of our most beloved children's stories, but he had relationships with children - especially young girls - that are deeply troubling by today's standards. Scholars are divided on whether his interest in girls was pedophilic, or just in keeping with Victorian cultural norms that celebrated children in different ways than we do today. The question of Carroll's biography is too big for us to solve here at Shmoop. As lovers of literature, we are interested in what he produced during a life that, on closer inspection, becomes curiouser and curiouser.