And now for something completely different (and rather tragic)

Best remembered for the the surreal and boundary-breaking zany humour of Monty Python and As co-director of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), with Terry Gilliam, and sole director of Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life (1983). British comedian, screenwriter, actor, film director and author Terry Jones, passed away on, 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 after being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (a form of Alzheimer’s) in 2016.

Terry Jones was born 1 February 1942 in the seaside town of Colwyn Bay, on the north coast of Wales. The family home was named Bodchwil. His father was stationed with the RAF in India. When Jones was 4½, the family moved to Surrey in England. Terry Jones was educated at the Royal Grammar School Guildford, Surrey, and was head boy during the 1960-61 academic year. Later He read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, but “strayed into history”. He graduated with a 2:1. While there, he also performed comedy with future Monty Python castmate Michael Palin in The Oxford Revue.

Jones appeared in Twice a Fortnight with Michael Palin, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Jonathan Lynn, as well as the television series The Complete and Utter History of Britain. He also appeared in Do Not Adjust Your Set with Palin, Eric Idle and David Jason. He wrote for The Frost Report and several other David Frost programmes on British television. Along with Palin, he wrote lyrics for the 1968 Barry Booth album “Diversions”. Early on, Jones was interested in devising a fresh format for the Python TV shows, and it was largely he who developed the stream-of-consciousness style which abandoned punchlines and encouraged the fluid movement of one sketch into another, allowing the troupe’s conceptual humour the space to “breathe”. Jones took a keen interest in the direction of the show. As demonstrated in many of his sketches with Palin, Jones was interested in making comedy that was visually impressive, feeling that interesting settings augmented, rather than detracted from, the humour. His methods encouraged many future television comedians to break away from conventional studio-bound shooting styles, as demonstrated by shows such as Green Wing, Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen. Of Jones’ contributions as a performer, his depictions of middle-aged women are among the most memorable and his humour, in collaboration with Palin, tends to be conceptual in nature. A typical Palin/Jones sketch draws its humour from the absurdity of the scenario. For example, in the “Summarise Proust Competition”, Jones plays a cheesy game show host who gives contestants 15 seconds to condense Marcel Proust’s lengthy work À la recherche du temps perdu. Jones was also noted for his gifts as a Chaplinesque physical comedian. His performance in the “Undressing in Public” sketch, for instance, is done in total silence.

Jones co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Monty Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. As a film director, Jones finally gained fuller control of the projects and devised a visual style that complemented the humour. His later films include Erik the Viking (1989) and The Wind in the Willows (1996). In 2008, Jones wrote and directed an opera titled Evil Machines. in 2011, he was commissioned to direct and write the libretto for another opera, entitled The Doctor’s Tale. On the commentary track of the 2004 “2 Disc Special Edition” DVD for the film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Terry Jones stated that to his knowledge Ireland had banned only four movies, three of which he had directed: The Meaning of Life, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Personal Services. He was also the creator and co-producer of the animated television program Blazing Dragons, which ran for two seasons. set in a fantasy medieval setting, the series’ protagonists are dragons who are beset by evil humans, reversing a common story convention. When the series was broadcast on US television, several episodes were censored due to minor cursing and the implied sexuality of an overtly effeminate character named “Sir Blaze”. The series was turned into a game for the Sega Saturn in 1994, featuring Jones’s voice. He co-wrote Ripping Yarns with Palin, and wrote the screenplay for Labyrinth (1986), although his draft went through several rewrites and several other writers before being filmed; much of the finished film wasn’t written by Jones at all. He has also written numerous works for children, including Fantastic Stories, The Beast with a Thousand Teeth, and a collection of Comic Verse called The Curse of the Vampire’s Socks.

He has written books and presented many award nominated television documentaries on medieval and ancient history and the history of numeral systems. such ad Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives (2004) (for which he received a 2004 Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming”) and Terry Jones’ Barbarians (2006) which presents the cultural achievements of peoples conquered by the Roman Empire in a more positive light than Roman historians typically have, while criticising the Romans as the true “barbarians” who exploited and destroyed higher civilizations (Romanes eunt Domus!)

He has written numerous editorials for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Observer condemning the Iraq war. Many of these editorials were published in a paperback collection titled Terry Jones’s War on the War on Terror. Chaucer’s Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (1980) offers an alternative take on the historical view of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale as being a paragon of Christian virtue. His most recent book, Evil Machines, was launched by the online publishing house Unbound at the Adam Street Club in London on 4 November 2011. Evil Machines is the first book to be published by a crowd funding website dedicated solely to books. Jones provided significant support to Unbound and also a member of the UK Poetry Society, his poems have also appeared in Poetry Review.

Jones has performed with The Carnival Band and appears on their 2007 CD Ringing the changes. In January 2008, the Teatro São Luiz, in Lisbon, Portugal, premiered Evil Machines – a musical play, written by Jones (based on his book) and with original music by Luis Tinoco. Jones was invited by the Teatro São Luiz to write and direct the play, after a very successful run of Contos Fantásticos, a short play based on Jones’ Fantastic Stories, also with music by Luis Tinoco. In January 2012, it was announced that Jones is working with songwriter/producer Jim Steinman on a heavy metal version of “The Nutcracker.” Apart from a cameo in Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky and a memorable minor role as a drunken vicar in BBC sitcom The Young Ones, Jones has rarely appeared in work outside of his own projects. Since January 2009, however, he has provided narration for The Legend of Dick and Dom, a CBBC fantasy series set in the Middle Ages. He also appears in two French films by Albert Dupontel : Le Créateur (1999) and Enfermés dehors (2006). In 2009 Jones took part in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home which featured his Welsh family history.

Tom Baker

Prolific British TV and Film actor Tom Baker was born 20 January in 1934. He is best known for playing the fourth incarnation of the Doctor in the science fiction television series Doctor Who, a role he played from 1974 to 1981. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Baker was part of Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre company, and had his first big film break in 1971 with the role of Rasputin in the film Nicholas and Alexandra after Olivier recommended him for the part. He also appeared in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s version of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, released in 1972, as a younger husband of the Wife of Bath. In 1974. Tom Baker then took on his most famous role of the Doctor from Jon Pertwee. He was recommended to producer Barry Letts by the BBC’s Head of Serials, Bill Slater, who had directed Baker in Play of the Month. Impressed by Baker on meeting him, Letts was convinced he was right for the part after seeing his performance in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

He quickly made the part his own. As the Doctor, his eccentric style of dress and speech, particularly his trademark long scarf and fondness for jelly babies, made him an immediately recognisable figure, and he quickly caught the viewing public’s imagination. Baker played the Doctor for seven consecutive seasons over a seven-year period, making him the longest-serving actor in the part on-screen. Baker himself suggested many aspects of the Fourth Doctor’s personality. The distinctive scarf came about by accident. James Acheson, the costume designer, had provided far more wool than was necessary to the knitter, Begonia Pope, and Ms. Pope knitted all the wool she was given. It was Baker who suggested that he wear the resulting ridiculously over-long scarf. The manifestation played by Tom Baker (1974–1981) is regarded by many as the most popular of the Doctors.

From 2001 Baker Was the narrator of Little Britain on BBC Radio 4, and remained in the role when it transferred to television. Baker has suggested that he was chosen for the part in Little Britain due to his popularity with Walliams and Lucas, part of the generation to whom he is the favourite Doctor. “I am now being employed by the children who grew up watching me”, he stated in a recent DVD commentary. Another trademark of Little Britain’s narration is the deadpan quotation of old rap lyrics, usually in the opening credit sequence. Baker is a prolific and highly recognisable voiceover artist, he narrated an animated adventure of Doctor Who as the Fourth Doctor, and also played Puddleglum, a “marsh-wiggle”, in the BBC adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair. Baker also portrayed Sherlock Holmes in a four part BBC miniseries version of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1982 and made an appearance as the sea captain Redbeard Rum in Blackadder II. He has also appeared as a guest on the quiz show Have I Got News For You and was subsequently described by presenter Angus Deayton as the funniest guest in the show’s history…

DeForest Kelley

Best known for his role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the television and film series Star Trek, the American actor, screenwriter, poet and singer Jackson DeForest Kelley was born January 20, 1920 in Toccoa, Georgia. DeForest was named after the pioneering electronics engineer Lee de Forest. He later named his Star Trek character’s father “David” after his own father. Kelley had an older brother, Ernest Casey Kelley. He attended Conyers, Where he regularly put his musical talents to use and often sang solo in morning church services. Eventually, this led to an appearance on the radio station WSB AM in Atlanta. As a result of Kelley’s radio work, he won an engagement with Lew Forbes and his orchestra at the Paramount Theater.

In 1934, the family left Conyers for Decatur, Georgia. He attended the Decatur Boys High School, where he played on the Decatur Bantams baseball team. Kelley also played football and other sports. Before his graduation in 1938, Kelley got a job as a drugstore car hop. He spent his weekends working in the local theaters. During World War II, Kelley served in the United States Army Air Forces from March 10, 1943 to January 28, 1946, assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit. After an extended stay in Long Beach, California, Kelley decided to pursue an acting career and relocate to southern California permanently, living for a time with his uncle Casey. He worked as an usher in a local theater in order to earn enough money for the move. Kelley’s mother encouraged her son in his new career goal, but his father disliked the idea. While in California, Kelley was spotted by a Paramount Pictures scout while doing a United States Navy training film.

Kelley’s acting career began with the low budget feature film Fear in the Night in 1947. This brought him to the attention of a national audience His next role, in Variety Girl, established him as a leading actor and resulted in the founding of his first fan club. Kelley did not become a leading man, however, and he and his wife, Carolyn, decided to move to New York City. He found work on stage and on live television, but after three years in New York, the Kelleys returned to Hollywood. In California, he received a role in an installment of You Are There, anchored by Walter Cronkite. He played ranch owner Bob Kitteridge in the 1949 episode “Legion of Old Timers” in The Lone Ranger. This led to an appearance in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral as Morgan Earp (brother to Burt Lancaster’s Wyatt Earp). Kelley appeared three times on Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: first in 1955, portraying Ike Clanton in the television series You Are There; again, two years later in the 1957 film of that name, playing Morgan Earp.

Three movie offers followed, including Warlock with Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn. In 1957, he had a small role as a Southern officer in Raintree County, a Civil War film directed by Edward Dmytryk, alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift and Lee Marvin. He also starred in the lead role as a U.S. Navy submarine captain in World War II in The Silent Service. He appeared in both season 1, episode 5, “The Spearfish Delivers”, as Commander Dempsey and in the first episode of season 2, “The Archerfish Spits Straight”, as Lieutenant Commander Enright. Leonard Nimoy also appeared in two different episodes. He also appeared in 1968, in a third-season Star Trek episode titled “Spectre of the Gun”, portraying Tom McLaury. Kelley also appeared in episodes of The Donna Reed Show, Perry Mason, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Boots and Saddles, Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater, Death Valley Days, Riverboat, The Fugitive, Lawman, Bat Masterson, Have Gun – Will Travel and Laredo. He appeared in the 1962 episode of Route 66, “1800 Days to Justice” and “The Clover Throne” as Willis. He had a small role in the movie The View from Pompey’s Head.

Kelley built up an impressive list of credits, alternating between television and motion pictures. However, he was afraid of typecasting, so he broke away from villains by starring in Where Love Has Gone and a television pilot called 333 Montgomery which was written by an ex-policeman named Gene Roddenberry, Kelley also appeared in another Roddenberry pilot, Police Story. Kelley also appeared in The radio drama, Suspense, produced by William M. Robson. In 1956, Kelley played a small supporting role as a medic in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit in which he utters the diagnosis “This man’s dead, Captain” and “That man is dead” to Gregory Peck. Kelley appeared as Lieutenant Commander James Dempsey in the military drama The Silent Service, based on actual stories of the submarine section of the United States Navy. In 1962, he appeared in the Bonanza episode titled “The Decision”, as a doctor sentenced to hang for the murder of a journalist. The judge in this episode was portrayed by John Hoyt, who later portrayed Dr. Phillip John Boyce, one of Leonard McCoy’s predecessors, on the Star Trek pilot “The Cage”. In 1963, he appeared in The Virginian episode “Man of Violence” as a “drinking” cavalry doctor with Leonard Nimoy as his patient. coincidentally, the episode was written by John D. F. Black, who went on to become a writer-producer on Star Trek. Just before Star Trek began filming, Kelley appeared as a doctor again, in the Laredo episode “The Sound of Terror.

In 1964 Kelley was approached by Gene Roddenberry and offered the role of Spock, he refused and Was instead offered the roll of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Star Trek aired from 1966 to 1969 and Kelley became a good friend of Star Trek cast mates William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, from their first meeting in 1964. During Trek’s first season, Kelley’s name was listed in the end credits along with the rest of the cast. Only Shatner and Nimoy were listed in the opening credits and Kelley’s role grew in importance during the first season. He reprised the character in a voice-over role in Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–74), and the first six Star Trek motion pictures (1979 to 1991). In one of the Star Trek comic books it was stated that Dr. McCoy’s father had been a Baptist preacher, an idea that apparently originated from Kelley’s background. In 1987, he also had a cameo in “Encounter at Farpoint”, the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as by-that-time Admiral Leonard McCoy, Starfleet Surgeon General Emeritus. Kelley was the only cast member of the original Star Trek series program never to have written or published an autobiography; however, the authorized biography From Sawdust to Stardust (2005) was written posthumously by Terry Lee Rioux of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Kelley regarded “The Empath” as his favourite Star Trek television episode. After Star Trek, Kelley found himself a victim of typecasting. In 1972, he was cast in the horror film Night of the Lepus. Kelley thereafter only did a few television appearances and a couple of movies besides portraying McCoy.

By 1978 he was earning vast sums annually from appearances at Star Trek conventions. Like other Star Trek actors, Kelley received little of the enormous profits that the franchise generated for Paramount, until Nimoy, as executive producer, helped arrange for Kelley to be paid $1 million for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) which would eventually be his final live-action film appearance. He also appeared in the very first Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Encounter at Farpoint”, in which he portrayed a 137-year-old Dr. McCoy. For his final film, Kelley provided the voice of Viking 1 in the 2nd/3rd installment in the children’s series The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars. Later in life, Kelley developed an interest in poetry, eventually publishing the first of two books in a series, The Big Bird’s Dream and The Dream Goes On – a series he would never finish. Kelley died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1999, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.In a interview, Kelley jokingly said one of his biggest fears was that the words etched on his gravestone would be “He’s dead, Jim.” His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean

Doctor Who-Tesla’s Night of Terror

The latest episode of Doctor who features Scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla Who broadcasts and unknowingly receives a signal from Mars. later on as he begins raising funds for his latest research with his assistant Dorothy Skerritt, he finds a mysterious sphere, then hisAssistant is found dead In mysterious circumstances. meanwhile the Doctor picks up an unusual energy source in the same area. So the Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan go to investigate, but soon they all find themselves under attack from a mystery assailant.

Upon escaping and reaching Tesla’s laboratory in New York. the Doctor discover that Tesla’s mysterious sphere is in fact an Orb ofThassor which was built by alien intelligence as a means to track people/spread information throughout the galaxy, and that somebody or something has been tracking Tesla.

Tesla meanwhile has ambitious plans of his own concerning electricity and aWorld Wireless system to spread information, however Funding for his Wardenclyffe project is suddenly withdrawn and there are also calls for his revolutionary Niagara Generator to be shut down on safety grounds. So The Doctor then goes to visit Tesla’s rival Thomas Edison but they soon find themselves under attack from another Mystery assailant who then kidnaps Nikola Tesla who finds himself on the Throne ship of the villainous scorpion like Queen ofthe Skithra. So The Doctor tries to rescue Tesla, however the Queen ofthe Skithra issues the Doctor with an ultimatum…

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Having been available on Amazon Prime and DVD AND BLU-RAY for some time, The Entertaining And often hilarious television adaptation of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen has reached terrestrial television (BBC2). It features David Tennant as the demon Crowley (the serpent who tempted Eve to eat the apple) and Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale (the guardian of the Eastern Gate of Eden), who now owns a bookshop in London. Crowley learns From the demon Hastor that the Apocalypse is rapidly approaching and is called upon to prepare for Armageddon and the end of the world, however Aziraphale and Crowley start having second thoughts.

The Birth of anti-Christ takes place at the St Beryl’s Satanic Order of Chattering Nuns.  However one nun named Sister Mary Loquacious accidentally misplaces the Anti-Christ when a young man Named Arthur Young suddenly arrive with his heavily pregnant wife Diedre at the same time as a prominent  American diplomat Thaddeus Dowling and his wife Harriet and the two babies are inadvertently mixed up. The mix up is not immediately noticed however When it becomes apparent that the child whom everyone thinks is the Anti-Christ, Is actually perfectly normal, Crowley and Azariphale Start panicking and decide to look for the real Anti-Christ who for his 11th birthday gets a hell hound and starts gaining his demonic powerS.

While looking for theAnti Christ They eventually arrive at Tadfield where After meeting a young woman named Anathema Device, Azariphale obtains a rare 17th century book entitled “Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” Which was written by A witch named Agnes Nutter And is Full of Incredibly cryptic but entirely accurate prophecies. Sadly Like other witches Agnes Nutter was tragically burned at the stake by an angry mob however due to having the gift of foresight She Made sure that she went out with a bang. Meanwhile Newton Pulsifer and Sargeant Shadwell of the Witchfinders are convinced that Anathema Device is up to no good and try to locate Her, however this does not go to plan.

Meanwhile Adam, the real Anti-Christ  is just starting to learn about his powers. and starts causing chaos. Elsewhere the Four Horsemen(Bikers) of the Apocalypse Are assemblIng: War (a female war correspondent), Death (a biker), Famine (a dietician and fast-food tycoon), and Pollution (a young man who took over from Pestilence following the discovery of penicillin). Meanwhile the world starts descending in to chaos all around and bizarre things start happening. Then As the fateful hour of the apocalypse draws near Aziraphale, Crowley, Anathema, The four bikers of the Apocalypse, Newton Pulsifer and Sargeant Shadwell gather at Tadfield Airbase to try and prevent Adam The Antichrist bringing about the apocalypse….

The Hogfather

I have recently rescued the humorously entertaining two-part Television adaptation of Terry Pratchetts 20th Discworld novel “The Hogfather” from a charity shop. It stars Joss Ackland, David Jason, Michelle Dockery and Marc Warren. It begins when The Ghostly Auditors of Discworld decide that the Hogfather, no longer fits into their modern view of the universe. The Hogfather is the Discworld equivelent of Father Christmas, granting children’s wishes on Hogswatchnight (December 32) and bringing them presents.

So the Auditors decide to eliminate the Hogfather, to do this they commission the services of a sinister Assassin named Jonathan Teatime, (pronounced Tee-Ah Tim-aye) From the Assassin’s Guild, to “inhume” the Hogfather and other anthropomorphic personifications such as the tooth Fairy and the Verucca Gnome whom they also deem surplus to requirements.

Meanwhile Death discovers that an unusually large number of people are dying prematurely. Then the Hogfather mysteriously vanishes and People gradually stop believing in him, however this lack of belief could have a catastrophic effect on the very survival of Discworld itself. So Death intervenes and decides to take over The Hogfather’s job by donning a red cloak and a beard, in order to make people continue to believe in him. However Death being Death, doesn’t quite get the Subtle nuances of being the Hogfather leading to some rather strange and amusing consequences.

Elsewhere Death’s granddaughter Susan Sto Helit visits the Castle of Bones only to find the hung-over Bilious, the “Oh God” of Hangovers, whom she rescues before the castle collapses due to the lack of belief. She then visits the Unseen University, where it is discovered that small gods, and other anthropomorphic personifications such as the Veruca Gnome and the Eater of SockS are being created by the Unseen University’s thinking machine, Hex, because there is ‘spare belief’ in the world due to the absence of the Hogfather.

Susan and Bilious then travel to the Tooth Fairy’s castle in pursuit of Jonathan Teatime, the wizard Mr Sideney and Teatime’s accomplices. Here they rescue Violet the Tooth Fairy before discovering thatTeatime has collected millions of children’s teeth which he is using  to control the children, and is forcing them to stop believing in the Hogfather. So Susan pursues and confronts the assassin Mr Teatime before trying to locate and rescue the Hogfather before the sun rises…

Lewis Carroll

Author, mathematician, Logician, Anglican Deacon and Photographer Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) sadly died 14 January 1897. He was born 27 January 1832, and is best remembered for writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, “The Hunting of the Snark” and “Jabberwocky”. From a young age, Dodgson wrote poetry and short stories, which he contributed to the family magazine Mischmasch and also sent them to various magazines. Between 1854 and 1856, his work appeared in The Comic Times and The Train, the Whitby Gazette and the Oxford Critic. Most of this output was humorous, sometimes satirical, he also wrote puppet plays Such as La Guida di Bragia.

In 1856 he published A romantic poem called “Solitude” in The Train as “Lewis Carroll”. This pseudonym was a play on his real name; Lewis was the anglicised form of Ludovicus, which was the Latin for Lutwidge, and Carroll an Irish surname similar to the Latin name Carolus, from which comes the name Charles. In 1856, a new dean, Henry Liddell, arrived at Christ Church, bringing with him his young family, all of whom would figure largely in Dodgson’s life and, over the following years, greatly influence his writing career. Dodgson became close friends with Liddell’s wife, Lorina, and their children, particularly the three sisters: Lorina, Edith and Alice Liddell. He was for many years widely assumed to have derived his own “Alice” from Alice Liddell. This was given some apparent substance by the fact the acrostic poem at the end of Through the Looking Glass spells out her name and also that there are many superficial references to her hidden in the text of both books. It has been noted that Dodgson himself repeatedly denied in later life that his “little heroine” was based on any real child, and frequently dedicated his works to girls of his acquaintance, adding their names in acrostic poems at the beginning of the text. Gertrude Chataway’s name appears in this form at the beginning of The Hunting of the Snark and it is not suggested that this means any of the characters in the narrative are based on her.

Carroll’s friendship with the Liddell family was an important part of his life in the late 1850s and he took the children on rowing trips accompanied by an adult friend.to nearby Nuneham Courtenay or Godstow.it was on one such expedition, on 4 July 1862, that Dodgson invented the outline for Alice in Wonderland after Alice Liddell persuaded him to write it down, Dodgson presented her with a handwritten, illustrated manuscript entitled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in November 1864 Before this, the family of friend and mentor George MacDonald read Dodgson’s incomplete manuscript, and the enthusiasm of the MacDonald children encouraged Dodgson to seek publication. In 1863, he had taken the unfinished manuscript to Macmillan the publisher, who liked it immediately. After the possible alternative titles Alice Among the Fairies and Alice’s Golden Hour were rejected, the work was finally published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 under the Lewis Carroll pen-name, which Dodgson had first used some nine years earlier. The illustrations this time were by Sir John Tenniel; Dodgson evidently thought that a published book would need the skills of a professional artist.

The overwhelming commercial success of the first Alice book changed Dodgson’s life in many ways. The fame of his alter ego “Lewis Carroll” soon spread around the world. He was inundated with fan mail and with sometimes unwanted attention. Indeed, according to one popular story, Queen Victoria herself enjoyed Alice In Wonderland so much that she suggested he dedicate his next book to her, and was accordingly presented with his next work, a scholarly mathematical volume entitled An Elementary Treatise on Determinants. Dodgson himself vehemently denied this story, commenting “…It is utterly false in every particular: nothing even resembling it has occurred”; and it is unlikely as “It would have been clearly contrary to all his practice to identify the author of Alice with the author of his mathematical works”.

He also began earning quite substantial sums of money but continued with his seemingly disliked post at Christ Church. Late in 1871, a sequel – Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – was published. It is somewhat darker and the mood possibly reflects the changes in Dodgson’s life. His father had recently died (1868), plunging him into a depression that lasted some years. In 1876, Dodgson produced his last great work, The Hunting of the Snark, a fantastical “nonsense” poem, exploring the adventures of a bizarre crew of tradesmen, and one beaver, who set off to find the eponymous creature. The painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti reputedly became convinced the poem was about him. In 1895, Carroll published a two-volume tale of the eponymous fairy siblings. Carroll entwines two plots, set in two alternate worlds, one the fairytale kingdom of Elfland, the other a realm called Outland, which satirizes English society, and more specifically, the world of academia.

In 1856, Dodgson took up photography, first under the influence of his uncle Skeffington Lutwidge, and later his Oxford friend Reginald Southey and soon became a well-known gentleman-photographer. Dodgson also made many studies of men, women, male children and landscapes; his subjects also include skeletons, dolls, dogs, statues and paintings, and trees. His pictures of children were taken with a parent in attendance and many of the pictures were taken in the Liddell garden, because natural sunlight was required for good exposures, Unfortunately this led to great controversy and unsavory rumors concerning his relationship with Alice and Lorina Liddell and he parted company with them under dubious circumstances. He found photography to be a useful entrée into higher social circles. During the most productive part of his career, he made portraits of notable sitters such as John Everett Millais, Ellen Terry, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Julia Margaret Cameron, Michael Faraday, Lord Salisbury, andAlfred, Lord Tennyson. Dodgson abruptly ceased photography in 1880. Over 24 years, he had completely mastered the medium, set up his own studio on the roof of Tom Quad, and created around 3,000 images. Fewer than 1,000 have survived time and deliberate destruction. He reported that he stopped taking photographs because keeping his studio working was difficult (he used the wet collodion process) and commercial photographers (who used the dry-plate process) took pictures more quickly.

Dodgson also worked in mathematics, in the fields of geometry, linear and matrix algebra,mathematical logic and recreational mathematics, producing nearly a dozen books under his real name. Dodgson also developed new ideas in linear algebra (e.g. the first printed proof of the Kronecker-Capelli theorem),probability, and the study of elections (e.g.,Dodgson’s method) and committees; some of this work was not published until well after his death. He worked as the Mathematical Lecturer at Christ Church, an occupation that gave him some financial security. His mathematical work attracted renewed interest in the late 20th century. Martin Gardner’s book on logic machines and diagrams, and William Warren Bartley’s posthumous publication of the second part of Carroll’s symbolic logic book have sparked a reevaluation of Carroll’s contributions to symbolic logic. Robbins’ and Rumsey’s investigation of Dodgson condensation, a method of evaluating determinants, led them to the Alternating Sign Matrix conjecture, now a theorem. The discovery in the 1990s of additional ciphers that Carroll had constructed, in addition to his “Memoria Technica”, showed that he had employed sophisticated mathematical ideas to their creation

Dodgson invented many things including the Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case in 1889. This was a cloth-backed folder with twelve slots, two marked for inserting the then most commonly used penny stamp, and one each for the other current denominations to one shilling. The folder was then put into a slip case decorated with a picture of Alice on the front and the Cheshire Cat on the back. All could be conveniently carried in a pocket or purse. When issued it also included a copy of Carroll’s pamphletted lecture, Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing. Another invention is a writing tablet called the nyctograph for use at night that allowed for note-taking in the dark; thus eliminating the trouble of getting out of bed and striking a light when one wakes with an idea. The device consisted of a gridded card with sixteen squares and system of symbols representing an alphabet of Dodgson’s design, using letter shapes similar to the Graffiti writing system on a Palm device.

 

Among the games he devised outside of logic there are a number of word games, including an early version of Scrabble, “doublet” a form of brain-teaser which involves changing one word into another by altering one letter at a time, each successive change always resulting in a genuine word. For instance, CAT is transformed into DOG by the following steps: CAT, COT, DOT, DOG. Other items he invented include a rule for finding the day of the week for any date; a means for justifying right margins on a typewriter; a steering device for a velociam (a type of tricycle); new systems of parliamentary representation; more nearly fair elimination rules for tennis tournaments; a new sort of postal money order; rules for reckoning postage; rules for a win in betting; rules for dividing a number by various divisors; a cardboard scale for the college common room he worked in later in life, which, held next to a glass, ensured the right amount of liqueur for the price paid; a double-sided adhesive strip for things like the fastening of envelopes or mounting things in books; a device for helping a bedridden invalid to read from a book placed sideways; and at least two ciphers for cryptography.

Dodgson continued to teach at Christ Church until 1881, and remained in residence there until his death. The two volumes of his last novel, Sylvie and Bruno, were published in 1889 and 1893. He also travelled to Russia in 1867 as an ecclesiastical together with the Reverend Henry Liddon. He recounts the travel in his “Russian Journal”, published in 1935. On his way to Russia and back he also saw different cities in Belgium, Germany, the partitioned Poland, and France. He died at his sisters’ home, “The Chestnuts” in Guildford, of pneumonia following influenza, two weeks before turning 66. He is buried in Guildford at the Mount Cemetery.