Study Guide

Lewis Carroll Later Years & Death

Later Years & Death

By the early 1870s, Lewis Carroll had endured some personal difficulties as well as professional success. His father died in 1868, causing Carroll to fall into a deep depression. As the eldest surviving male in the family, he was responsible for taking care of his six unmarried sisters, and purchased a home for them in Guildford, England. The year after his father's death Carroll published a book of nonsense poems that appeared under two different titles, Phantasmagoria and Rhyme? And Reason? His last major work of nonsense fiction was The Hunting of the Snark, a long nonsense poem published in 1876. It was about a motley crew of sailors in search of an imaginary creature. Scholars have debated the meaning of Snark, though we suspect Carroll's ghost is giggling over their efforts. "I have received courteous letters from strangers, begging to know whether 'The Hunting of the Snark' is an allegory, or contains some hidden moral, or is a political satire," Carroll wrote. "For all such questions I have but one answer, 'I don't know!'"

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