1883 - A Year in the Life of Charles L Dodgson

Intro. Why 1883? No reason other than it is 130 years ago and it is as good a year as any other! Biographers when reading the Dodgson diaries pick out the bits of Dodgson’s life that suits their purposes - they often get to the theory first then look for the ‘facts’ to back them up. But looking at one year chronologically might avoid that pit fall. Often biographers pick up just on one word which is enough sometimes to start the hare running. For instance Dodgson says on one entry on December 8th,1882, as he accepted the nomination for the post as curator of the common  room, that his life was becoming too much that of a selfish recluse. This one word ‘recluse’ has coloured the view of Dodgson either knowingly or subconsciously as successive biographers make claims that he was almost a hermit! Yet what did he mean by this word? In 1882 he was no longer a mathematical lecturer but he had no taste for teaching undergraduates so he will not have been missing their company, he was on the governing body at the college so he was not sidelined in that respect, his holiday in Eastbourne that year was filled with activity with new friends and he had that year also visited Ireland and Scotland.

The trip started on the 6th of July with him and his friend Samson boarding a ship in Bristol that was bound for Ireland which they reached on 8th July after a rough crossing. The ship then took them to Scotland, on route he made friends with the passengers and the crew, and they arrived in Greenock about five o clock whence they made their way to Edinburgh. They then spent four days in Scotland socialising before parting company and Dodgson took a ship for London arriving there about noon on 12th of July where he continued to socialise before going to Christ Church on the 14th of July.