On a recent flight I happened to be seated next to a best-selling author. Intriguing to me since I’m an avid reader and Simon Winchester just happened to be an interesting an engaging person. He’s the author of The Professor and the Madman, which you may have seen on bookshelves and best-seller lists.
I decided to start with Alice Behind Wonderland. Last year I read a really interesting novel called Alice I have Been by Melanie Benjamin. The novel was the story of girl, Alice Liddell, who was the inspiration for Alice of Alice in Wonderland. That work of historical fiction was a good primer for Winchester’s book.
His research takes the reader on an interesting ‘little’ (this is a quick read) journey behind the camera lens of Charles Dodgson who you may know as Lewis Carroll–author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.
Winchester’s work explores the story behind this photo of Alice Liddell:
Alice Liddell was the daughter of the dean of Christ Church College inOxford. Her parents and siblings were friends of Dodgson’s and he photographed all the Liddell children and others. Alice is the only one to appear in such a pose – this photo is called ‘Alice Liddell as The Beggar Maid’. She is the child to whom Dodgson first narrated the story of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and it was at her request that he turned this tale into a book.
This photograph, and Dodgson’s fascination with children has been reviewed by many but Winchester offers more of an explanation of Victorian photography. As I read this book, I thought of the intricacies of photography I often see on blogs – I just have a point and shoot digital camera and am not a photographer by any means! Those who have fancy cameras and are passionate about photography would enjoy this look at the history of the development of the camera.
With that I’m going back to my bookshelves to pick my Summer reads. I need to work on writing up posts for #s 14, 15, 16…I’m still on track for my 50 Books in 2012! I need at least a week on a beach to catch up on my reads.
What are some of your Summer reads?