Five Things You Probably Don’t Know about Alice Pleasance Liddell

1 Her father is one of the authors of the most important Greek lexicons of all time, known affectionally to scholars as the LSJ. There is a special two-volume version of the LSJ that instead of English, translation you get it all in modern Greek with expanded quotations. Scholars pronounce this last name as Li-dell, accent on the last syllable.

2. Oxford University, where you can see the Isis river she rowed upon that famous day is built upon an old Jewish cemetery. Liddell was part of Christ Church College and the cemetery is part of Magdelene College

3. The illustrations of Alice in the books about her are based on a different girl, also I think named Alice. Tenniel was a great political cartoonist and probably included in his Alice illustrations both Gladstone (super important to Irish History) and Disraeli (born Jewish and who really ripped it into Irish leader Daniel O’Connell once about the Irish guy’s ancestors being savages and his ancestors being priests in the Temple of Solomon). He’s also the reason why India had experienced awful colonization.

4. Alice Pleasance Liddell spent considerable time living in Durham City. Durham, most Sherlockians conclude, is also probably where Professor Moriarty taught and C.S. Lewis has to apologize because his University of Edgestow sounded suspiciously like Durham. Durham also granted an honorary doctorate to Dorothy Sayers and is the site of a major bloody massacre by William the Conquerer. Read more about it in Deadly Durham by Terry Deary, who is the author of some of the best history books ever written known as Horrible Histories.

5. Most people know that Charles Dodgson liked to take pictures of naked little girls. Most people defend this including Martin Gilbert and the author of a section of the famous multi-volume Mathematical work (The World of Mathematics perhaps) which I had the misfortune of reading when I was eleven. I was shocked beyond shock. But then I read, and I can’t give the citation that they did an interview with some of the little girls who knew Dodgson, who was a reverend. Most of them seemed Ok. But when they interviewed Alice’s husband, he made a very strange remark and made some kind of big complaint. I can’t prove Dodgson sexually abused her but I would put my money on YES he did. And I can also say that Theodor Herzl, whom my grandfather was named after, also was sexually attracted to little girls. My grandfather, and Alice lover who held nothing sacred except Judaism and was fond of the gay couple who lived in his retirement building, liked to say to me, “well I did hear he came down with gonorrhea.”

So if like me you made a pilgrimage to Oxford to remember martyr Thomas Beckett or to see the famous pub, The Eagle and the Child — which the Inklings liked to call the Bird and the Baby, or to see the Ashmolean Museam, the Anthropological Museum, or to catch some really good felalel, take five minutes to think of Alice Pleasance Liddell and the price of great art. The author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many other great books like Danny the Champion of the World, and my favorite, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, mind you, emotionally abused his wife, the actress Patricia Neal so badly, well it was bad. You can detect his abject cruelty if you read enough of his work. No artist, none should get a free pass just because they created great art, even art that warms the heart and helps the world. I still can read the Alice books, but I can never get back the innocent love I had for it since I was pre-literate.

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