It’s July 1862.
And a shy Oxford mathematics don is taking his friend’s daughters for a row on the Thames.
The three children quickly become bored. The skies are gloomy. And there’s nothing to do in the boat.
So Charles Dodgson makes up a story to amuse his passengers: “Adventures Under Ground”.
About a bored, bolshy and inquisitive girl called Alice - named after one of the three girls.
The story includes riddles, wordplay and the most wonderful nonsense.
The girls are enchanted.
None of them realises it at the time.
Yet Dodgson has just created arguably the greatest work of Victorian English fiction.
For three years later, Dodgson (now using his pen name Lewis Carroll) will publish Alice in Wonderland.
Lewis Carroll died 125 years ago this month.
Today I want to offer you the opportunity to own a huge scarcity.
Two handwritten letters from Lewis Carroll - arguably the most influential English author of the Victorian age.
Own this signature of Lewis Carroll - and so much more...
No literary collection is complete without Carroll.
And this is among the finest offering you could hope to see.
Because what he has written in these letters is extraordinary.
More of that in a moment.
Let me give you some quick background first:
Early in 1877, amateur photographer Edward Draper wrote to Carroll.
Draper explained that his daughter Dolly loved Carroll's books.
Carroll then wrote in return to Dolly Draper, and struck up a friendship with the family.
The two handwritten letters you can own today are part of that correspondence. And the only ones between Carroll and Dolly Draper ever to have been offered for sale.
I said the content is extraordinary.
Here are Carroll's opening lines in the earlier of the two letters:
You receive this handwritten and signed letter from Lewis Carroll
My dear Dolly
Here is the portrait of the man I told you about. He is no relation of mine (but I have known him all my life) — at least, if he is a relation, I don’t know what sort of relation you would call him. He is about the same age as I am, but he certainly isn’t my brother, nor any kind of cousin.
It sounds like a riddle straight out of Alice in Wonderland.
Who is this man Carroll is talking about?
And why is Carroll sending Dolly a picture of him?
The answer: He's talking about himself.
It is Charles Dodgson who writes and signs this letter.
And even though Dodgson's tone is light hearted…
…the fact he refers to Lewis Carroll as a separate man…
…and the fact he can't bring himself to refer to Carroll by name…
…even though it is an open secret that the two are the same…
…Tells us so much.
What an insight into his mind.
Carroll (I'm going to stick with that name) was uncomfortable with the fame the Alice books had brought him.
He refused to answer letters addressed to "Lewis Carroll". And he refused to sign autographs.
Which explains why authentic examples of his signature and letters so rarely come up for sale.
Not to mention the fact that his personal correspondence today lies mostly in university libraries.
Yet this letter is much more than just incredible rarity and incredible content.
The full transcript of Carroll's first letter to Dolly
More details you should know
- The letter is four pages long, created from a piece of single-folded paper. Each page measures approx. 3.25 x 5.25 inches.
- On each page, Carroll has written attractively in his famous violet ink – just what you want in a Carroll letter.
Lewis Carroll writes and signs the letter in his trademark violet ink
- His signature, "C.L. Dodgson" is crisp and beautiful.
- He writes from Christ Church college, Oxford – where he was a resident lecturer.
- Carroll dates the letter February 5, 1877. That's important. Because this is Carroll at the height of his fame.
And remember. You're not just getting one Lewis Carroll letter. You're getting two.
Because you also get a second handwritten letter from Carroll to Dolly.
You also get this second letter from Carroll to Dolly
Which he writes on April 12, 1877 – two months after the earlier one.
Now, so that you're fully aware…
Handwritten by arguably Victorian England's most influential author
Carroll originally signed this second letter. That signature has been removed (sacrilege!) and replaced with a facsimile.
Yet the rest of this letter is pure Lewis Carroll.
It couldn’t be anyone else. I'll show you:
By now, Carroll has clearly been to visit the Draper family.
The full transcript of Carroll's second letter to Dolly
He writes of his idea to give them presents so they don't forget him.
He suggests copies of "Alice's Adventures", "the Snark", and "the Looking-glass".
Reading Lewis Carroll writing about his own works is special.
Yet there's something even more special in this letter. And it's this line, in which Carroll suggests he's worth an entry in Dolly's Modern History Dates book:
And if ever Roger [Dolly's brother] says "Why, I don't believe you care a fig for Mr Dodgson," you can say "Ah, but I care a date for him!"
That kind of word-play is quintessential Lewis Carroll. It's so reminiscent of lines from Alice in Wonderland, such as this spoken by the Duchess:
"There’s a large mustard-mine near here. And the moral of that is—’The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours.'"
Again, Carroll writes in his trademark violet ink. Across three 4.5 x 7 inch sides of a single-folded piece of paper.
Both letters are 100% guaranteed genuine.
I have personally authenticated the handwriting on both, using my 45 years' experience in the industry. I've also authenticated Carroll's signature. It's all 100% Lewis Carroll.
You get my Lifetime Moneyback Guarantee of Authenticity for your added peace of mind, as well as my Certificate of Authenticity.
As a further level of assurance, the prestigious Walter R Benjamin Autographs company once handled these letters. The company was the oldest autograph dealer in the US, established in 1887. The letters come in a Walter R Benjamin Autographs protective sleeve.
Both letters are in good condition considering they're 146 years old.
A rusty paperclip mark to the top of the signed letter is the only notable detraction.
Now, you're probably wondering about the price.
You're getting superb value for money
Carroll handwritten and signed letters rarely come up for sale
Both letters are pure Carroll, with his wonderful riddles, turns of phrase and violet ink
It's incredible to think the same hand that wrote Alice in Wonderland also wrote these two letters.
And they are yours for just £8,950 ($10,750).
Or call me on +44 (0)117 933 9500 before someone else does.
Or email email@example.com.
Handwritten and signed letters from Lewis Carroll rarely appear for sale.
And those featuring such stunning content are almost unheard of.
Don’t miss out.
Thanks for reading,
PS. Remember, you're not just getting one, you're getting two fascinating Lewis Carroll letters.
PPS. You also get free, fully insured delivery and my 30-day no quibble moneyback guarantee.