Douglas R. Nickel is curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Born in Daresbury, England,in 1832, Charles Luthwidge Dodgson is better known by his pen mane of Lewis Carroll. He became a minister of the Church of England and a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church College, Oxford. He was the author, under his own name, of An Elementary Treatise on Determinants (1867), Symbolic Logic (1896), and other scholarly treatises which would hardly have given him a place in English literature. Charles Dodgson might have been completely forgotten but for the work of his alter ego, Lewis Carroll. Lewis Carroll, shy in the company of adults, loved children and knew and understood the world of the imagination in which the most sensitive of them lived. So he put the little girl Alice Liddell into a dream-story and found himself famous as the author of Alice in Wonderland (1865). Through the Looking Glass followed in 1871. In recent years Carroll has been taken quite seriously as a major literary artist for adults as well. His works have come under the scrutiny of critics who have explained his permanent attractiveness in terms of existential and symbolic drama: The Alice books dramatize psychological realities in symbolic terms, being commentary on the nature of the human predicament rather than escape from it. In addition to his writing, Carroll was also a pioneering photographer, and he took many pictures of young children, especially girls, with whom he seemed to empathize.