A few Carroll letters at the Rosenbach: "a very small portion of brain"

The website Letters of Note has two Lewis Carroll correspondences up today, both to Isabel Seymour in 1869. They are part of the Rosenbach Museum & Library’s collection in Philadelphia, where the Lewis Carroll Society of North America will be holding its spring meeting on April 24th, 2010. (There’s also an installation by Sue Johnson inspired by Carroll and poet Marianne Moore at the Rosenbach up thru June.) The first letter is an apology for stealing Isabel’s train ticket:

The Chestnuts,
May 15, 1869

My dear Isabel,

Words cannot tell how horrified, terrified, petrified (everything ending with “fied,” including all my sisters here saying “fie!” when they heard of it) I was when I found that I had carried off your ticket to Guildford. I enquired directly I got there whether anything could be done, but found you must have arrived in London some time before I got here. So there was nothing to be done but tear my hair (there is almost none left now), weep, and surrender myself to the police.

I do hope you didn’t suffer any inconvenience on account of my forgetfulness, but you see you would talk so all the way (though I begged you not) that you drove everything out of my head, including the very small portion of brain that is usually to be found there.

Miss Lloyd will never forgive me for it—of that I feel certain. But I have some hope that after many years, when you see me, an aged man on crutches, hobbling to your door, the sternness of your features may relax for a moment, and, holding out the forefinger of your left hand, you may bring yourself to say, “All is forgotten and forgiven.”

I hardly dare ask what really happened at Paddington, whether the gentleman and lady, who were in the carriage, helped you out of the difficulty, or whether your maid had money enough, or whether you had to go to prison. If so, never mind: I’ll do my best to get you out, and at any rate you shant be executed.

Seriously, I am so sorry for it, and with all sorts of apologies, I am sincerely yours,

C. L. Dodgson

And there’s a second one at Letters of Note. Thank you Melissa Brice of Canary Promotion + Design for the tip.


Mad Tea Party and Guided Tours at the Rosenbach, PA

Alice considered a little, and then said, "Wash your hands. Cover your cough. Stay home if you are sick. Get vaccinated."

Now that the Alice pandemic has reached the WHO-defined Phase 6, “increased and sustained transmission in general population,” the last few weeks have felt a bit like blogging through the looking-glass: it seems to take all the blogging we can do to keep in the same place. To actually inform our readers of events in advance, well, we would have to blog at least twice as fast as that.

With that excuse, it’s time for a mention of tomorrow’s Mad Tea Party at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philidelphia. Registration is now closed, but attendees have been promised a look at the library’s first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and lots and lots of tea (we hope proper saucer usage will be observed).
Over the next few weeks the library will be offering a tour of Carrollian items in their collection:

This tour will explore both the man and the author, drawing on letters from Dodgson to his publishers, original drawings by John Tenniel (the illustrator of the Alice books) photographs of children taken by Carroll, and, of course, copies of his books.

The tours promises to be “hands on,” but mind the marmalade please. LCSNA members who discover sticky fingerprints on the museum collection during the Spring Meeting on April 24th will take the matter very seriously.

Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia PA

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 – 3:00pm
Sunday, March 14, 2010 – 3:00pm
Friday, March 19, 2010 – 3:00pm


Chronological List of the Meetings of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Messrs. August A. Imholtz, Jr., and Mark Burstein, bigwigs of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, have prepared a useful digital book of the Chronological List of the Meetings of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, with details about Who Spoke About What and What Else Happened, from the inaugural meeting in Princeton, New Jersey, January 1974, thru the forthcoming April 2010 meeting at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia (that’s right! where the Marianne Moore / Lewis Carroll installation by Sue Johnson is, blogged about here.)


Poet Marianne Moore & Lewis Carroll creatively combined in an exhibition by Sue Johnson at Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum & Library

The Rosenbach Museum & Library’s Artist-in-Residence Sue Johnson has an original installation called Moore Adventures in Wonderland running from September 23rd, 2009, thru June 6th, 2010. The Rosenbach collection is highlighted with large archives by both Lewis Carroll and Marianne Moore, the witty American modernist poet, so Johnson’s installation sets out to explore the two writers’ connections. In her own words (quoted in last Friday’s Philadelphia Daily News):

Moore almost exclusively uses nature as her platform. She doesn’t people her poetry very often, and I felt a resonant chord with that. With Carroll, of course, it’s Alice’s adventures, but it’s Alice’s adventures with creatures that have been anthropomorphized. So I thought that there was a good conversation that could be had there between two creative people that I felt an affinity with.

Marianne Moore willed to the Rosenbach a room from her Greenwich Village apartment, which was then recreated on site. The exhibition is downstairs from the Moore living room, so Johnson played with the house’s layout and available looking-glasses above fireplace mantles: “I was thinking about going through the looking glass upstairs in the Moore room and landing downstairs in the room that I created. So it’s almost like watching an old filmstrip, where there’s a slippage of the film and you find yourself in another place, down the rabbit hole. I wanted people to be toggling back and forth between those spaces.” (also quoted from the Daily News, where there’s a further detailed description of the installation.)
The Rosenbach Museum & Library is at 2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for students and children; closed on Mondays. Too Many Thoughts to Chew: A [Maurice] Sendak Stew is showing simultaneously.
(The Lewis Carroll Society of North America will be meeting at the Rosenbach and viewing Sue Johnson’s installation on April 24, 2010. To learn more about the society, see www.lewiscarroll.org. As the meeting date gets closer, we will be posting additional information about our program that day on the society’s website. – from Clare Imholtz, LCSNA Secretary)

LCSNA meetings

If you weren’t able to attend the LCSNA fall meeting in Fort Lee, NJ, this past weekend, take a look at some of the articles written about it…

“Down the rabbit hole, onto the silver screen”

“Fort Lee as ‘Wonderland'”

… then start planning for the spring meeting! It will take place at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia on April 24, 2010.


Tea Party in Philadelphia

An installation in the dining room at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia pays homage to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “In honor of the 80th anniversary of Dr. Rosenbach’s famous purchase of the Alice manuscript, we’ll set a place for Alice herself. The installation will feature selections from the Rosenbach’s collection of ceramic and silver tea equipage, but hopefully no real dormice.”
The installation has been extended through Summer 2008: