An Unlikely Alliance for A Former Child Friend of Lewis Carroll

A Mouse's Tale

The Mouse’s Tale – Mabel Lucie Attwell

For you history buffs (and I know you’re out there), author and LCSNA member Ruth Berman contributes this post.  Thank you for sharing, Ruth!

“On Monday, I was interested to watch on the local PBS channel a show on “Hitler’s Favourite Royal” (a 2008 BBC production, but I hadn’t seen it before, and have the impression that it was being aired in the US for the first time with this broadcast). The “royal” of the title was Charles Edward, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Charles Edward’s grandfather, Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, was the younger brother of Ernest II, the Duke of S-C&G. When Ernest died without an heir, the duchy looked to Albert’s sons for an heir, and as the Prince of Wales could not suitably accept the position, the duchy got the second son, Charles Edward’s uncle Prince Alfred, as their new duke. When Alfred died without an heir, the duchy looked to Albert’s third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, who turned them down, and offered instead his son, also Prince Arthur. The younger Arthur thought leaving England and going off to Germany to be a German Duke sounded like a rotten job offer, and is supposed to have told his cousin Charles Edward that he had to take it, and he would thrash him if he tried to refuse.

So the unlucky Charles Edward was stuck with it, at the age of 16, in 1900. Charles Edward had been since birth the Duke of Albany, as his father, Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold, duke of Albany, died before Charles Edward was born. Along came 1914, and Charles Edward found himself on the enemy side of the land of his birth. He managed to arrange to be sent to fight on the eastern front, against Russia and Poland, not directly against Britain, but when the war ended, the British government declared him an adherent of their enemies, and stripped him of his title of Duke of Albany. Then along came Hitler, and Charles Edward became one of his earliest and most fervent supporters (hence the program’s title). After the war, he was tried by the Allies as a war criminal and was ordered to pay fines that took away most of the wealth and property that had come with his German titles and had still remained. And after that he lived in seclusion until his death in 1954.

The TV show did not mention the Carrollian interest, but when Charles Edward was still little Prince Charlie, he and his older sister Princess Alice were among Lewis Carroll’s child-friends. Carroll recorded visits with them twice in his diaries, and taught them to fold paper to make toy pistols that would make a shot-like noise when “fired.” Carroll wrote an acrostic poem, “Puck Lost and Found,” on Princess Alice and Prince Charlie, describing Charlie as a charming sprite (the Puck Found of the title), and recalling the fun of making toy pistols — all sadly ironic in view of the boy’s fate.

Ruth Berman”


Summer TV round-up PART TWO – Antiques Roadshow, Alice in Zombieland, and the future of Alice-derived Television

The door stops featured in Antiques Roadshow on PBS

In yesterday’s Summer TV round-up PART ONE, the evil ghost of Alice Liddell came back through the looking-glass in Syfy’s Warehouse 13. The characters in the show needed to use enchanted artifacts, such as the caterpillar’s hookah, to conquer the demon. Alice-related artifacts were also on a very different show this May, namely, Antiques Roadshow.

The popular PBS show featured some lovely Alice in Wonderland carved door stops, appraised at $10,000-$15,000. The appraiser, Noel Barrett, said, “Alice in Wonderland is so much a part of our culture. And this imagery is just ingrained. And what to me is really exciting is, in carved wood, whoever created these did a masterful job of adding dimension to the wonderful Tenniel illustrations, which of course are touchstone imagery of Alice.” The guest originally paid $100 for them at an estate sale. More pictures and a transcription of the appraisal are here.

Watch Appraisal: “Alice in Wonderland” Doorstops on PBS. See more from Antiques Roadshow.

Last week, a show called Face Off, also on Syfy, had an episode called “Alice in Zombieland.” Face Off is a stage make-up competition, sort of like Iron Chef but with the contestants making monster masks.  In this episode, “the contestants find themselves in the gorgeous Descanso Gardens where McKenzie tells them that the challenge this week is a mash-up between Alice in Wonderland and zombies. Some artists are psyched, but Sarah, who grew up in a Mennonite community, is stumped. At a loss for how to turn the Cheshire Cat into a zombie, she consults Nicole, who tells her to just mash it up.” This episode can also be watched online in HD on Amazon Instant Video for $1.99.

There pictures below were taken from FearNET TV, where there is a detailed review of the episode.

A still from Syfy’s Face Off, episode 304 “Alice in Zombieland,” from FearNET TV.

A still from Syfy’s Face Off, episode 304 “Alice in Zombieland,” from FearNET TV.

And now a look into the future of Alice television!

On the CW network, look for a cop drama based on Alice in Wonderland. You read that correctly. “Alice will be a modern-day big city detective,” reports Entertainment Weekly. “In this version, Alice discovers a fantastical world beneath Los Angeles. The working title is Wunderland (yes,with a ‘u’).” EW concludes, “What could go wrong?”

And finally, big news from Comic-Con. Last year we joked about the fact that the prequel to Zenoscope’s “Return to Wonderland” was called “Alice in Wonderland.” Indeed, the books have been among the top ten independent comics of the past few years. Now, the news from Comic-Con is that the television rights for the whole Zenoscope series were won by Lionsgate, apparently following a “six-studio bidding war.” Look for Alice Liddell’s busty ass-kicking daughter to enter a mad Wonderland on a major network sometime in the next few years. The entire series of Zenoscope novels are available at Amazon and where all fine comics are sold.


Summer TV round-up PART ONE – A Snark-obsessed professor and the murderous ghost of Alice Liddell

Lewis Carroll made a few cameos on television this summer.

BBC’s Inspector Lewis, on Masterpiece Mystery (also on PBS in America), had an episode in Season V called “The Soul of Genius.” The dead body in this whodunit was a professor obsessed with The Hunting of the Snark, and of course the Inspector has to delve into the poem to search for clues, i.e. a “legendary riddle hidden in Carroll’s philosophical story of an impossible quest for the unknowable.” Oxford’s Botanical Gardens are also visited. Here’s the trailer from the PBS website:

Watch Inspector Lewis: The Soul of Genius Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

 I’m not sure when PBS reruns it, but it is already available on DVD at Amazon.comwhere it received mostly five-star costumer reviews, and is already available on Netflix (Season 5, Disc 1.)

Over on basic cable, Syfy’s Warehouse 13 had a creepy mystery involving Lewis Carroll’s mirror, which aired August 27. The trailer shows the protagonist finding the Looking-Glass in the warehouse, and accidentally unleashing an EVIL SPIRIT from the other side, namely the “murderous” ghost of Alice Liddell.

Syfy’s website had further description of the plot:

Evil dead Alice Liddell, in the Warehouse 13 episode “Fractures.”

[…] Almost immediately, a ping comes in that a young woman has transformed from her meek self to a salacious thug. By the time Pete and Myka realize that Alice Lidell escaped from Lewis Carroll’s mirror – and the mirror somehow got out of the Dark Vault – they realize that she’s also able to jump from body to body using a shard of the broken mirror. […] Artie narrowly escapes the attack from a waitress, possessed by Alice, but once outside, he and Vanessa confer with Pete and Myka. Artie won’t explain how he knows, but says that Alice is there to kill him. They call back to the Warehouse and direct Jinks and Claudia to find a trapping artifact – a hookah that appeared in “Through the Looking-Glass” [sic]- so they can re-contain Alice.

Even if you missed the first-run on TV, this episode “Fractures” can be watched online in HD on Amazon Instant Video, for $2.99.

Tomorrow: Summer TV round-up PART TWO – Antiques Roadshow, Alice in Zombieland, and the future of Alice-derived Television