Hey folks, Meg here!
As we've been compiling the comics together for Comixology, I've been editing the various historical notes that have been assembled during the writing of the comic and expanding on them. Namesake employs a lot of twisted history, and to do this, it requires throughout research of the original events. In the current Intermission, you're getting a lot of references to the latter part of Alice Liddell Hargreaves' life, and while I plan to go into that, doing so right now will spoil a couple updates. So, we're going to loop back to the beginning of the story with the prologue.
The cut pages in the diary
Lewis Carroll was a prolific writer, and his diaries are quite extensive. Out of the 13 volumes he recorded during his adult life, nine of them have survived. His original biographer, a nephew, insisted that Carroll kept a journal as far back as when he was 10 years old. The surviving volumes begin just shy of Carroll's 23th birthday in 1855. The subject matter ranges from his classes at Oxford to his early experiments in photography to meeting a number of celebrities in the later part of his life and the lectures he gave through retirement.
Carroll died having never married or had children, so his journals passed into the care of his relatives. And that's when things started to go wrong.
When Carroll's family got ahold of the journals, they felt the need to preserve the image of Carroll as a saintly, chaste man, a generous patron of children around the world. The reality, revealed through the pages of those diaries, was that Carroll was an extrovert who greatly enjoyed having people around him - especially women. Carroll traveled, attended the theater, and brushed elbows with Mark Twain. He loved technology, and in addition to his photography, he tinkered with the early form of a tricycle. Carroll frequently went on long walks and adored puzzles. He was far from the recluse his family wanted him to be.
The first thing the Dodgsons did was have the nephew release that biography, which is an interesting study in Victorian-era biographies. The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll emphasized Carroll's shyness and fondness for children, cherrypicking from the journals to support their claims. This biography started the road to damning Carroll's legacy in modern times, as frequent references were made to Carroll being "attracted" to children.
Then came the censorship. By 1932, four volumes of Carroll's diaries had disappeared by what his family claimed was negligence during a move. In 1969, the remaining journals were given to the British Library, but 10 pages were removed prior to the handover. At least two were done by Carroll himself during his lifetime, but the others were done by his family.
The prologue of Namesake centers around page 91 of his 8th journal, which covers June 27 to 29 of 1863. Part of the June 27 entry remains. The reason this particular cut page is so important is that it details what led to the break between Carroll and Alice Liddell's family, which took place during this time.
Carroll and the Liddells were extremely close, with Carroll a constant presence in young Alice's life. He took a number of photographs of the children, visited the family at home, and frequently picnicked with them. One of those picnics resulted in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The cutoff diary entry starts off with Carroll asking Mrs. Liddell about the children coming to be photographed. Then there's nothing other than a mention of the family going on vacation. After six months, Carroll admitted in his journal that he'd been keeping his distance from them.
That particular missing page has led to a lot of speculation among Carroll scholars. In 1995, biographer Morton Cohen theorized that Carroll had proposed to 11-year-old Alice. A year later, scholar Karoline Leach discovered documentation among the Dodgson family papers that discussed the Liddells and the cut pages. Written by Violet Dodgson, who was one of the last of the family to have the diaries before the British Library took custody of them, she summarizes what was on that missing page.
‘L.C. learns from Mrs Liddell that he is supposed to be using the children as a means of paying court to the governess – he is also supposed [unreadable] to be courting Ina’.
By this time, Ina Liddell was 14 years old, and there was some evidence that she'd had a girlhood crush on Carroll. Carroll wrote about how Ina was growing tall and that Mrs. Liddell began insisting on a chaperone when before, Carroll was allowed to be around the children unsupervised. Ina had written to Carroll begging for his company at several points. Carroll had also been previously linked to the Liddell family governess, a claim that he noted "so groundless a rumour," and it's likely that the split happened because Mrs. Liddell did not want Ina's reputation put at risk as she became eligible for marriage. Regardless of the reason, Carroll stayed away from the Liddells, and the friendship gradually died.
In Namesake, this particular missing page is reworked to focus on Carroll's activities with Calliope and particularly Alice Liddell's first trip to Wonderland. In the Namesake universe, the missing journals 6 and 7 (April 1858 to May 1862) cover the period of time that Lewis was recruited by Calliope and became a full-fledged member. Thus, the censorship largely either comes from Lewis himself or by Calliope - perhaps at the order of Alice herself once she becomes head of Calliope.
- "The Liddell Riddle," Times Literary Supplement - May 3, 1996
- The Lewis Carroll Society, Charles Dodgson's Diaries
- "In the Shadow of the Dreamchild" by Karoline Leach: Paperback | Kindle
- "The Mystery of Lewis Carroll" by Jenny Woolf: Paperback | Kindle