In The Shadow Of The Dreamchild

Probably the most controversial book ever issued about Carroll is Karoline Leach's "In The Shadow of the Dreamchild," which came out in 1999. Leach's book was the first serious study to question the commonly held views that that Carroll was either a sexless saint or a paedophile misfit who was fixated on little girls. Instead, she postulated the idea that Carroll had an adult personal life, which included an affair with Alice's mother, Mrs. Liddell.

Her book caused outrage amongst many scholars. There was no way anyone could lump Leach together with the many cranks who write peculiar books about Carroll. She was extraordinarily well informed, not only about Carroll but about his circle. She followed up little-known references, read many difficult and obscure texts, and made a persuasive case for most of what she said.

The stumbling block for many people - including me - was the idea of an affair with Mrs. L. Not the least of the reasons is that Mrs. Liddell would have needed a death wish to embark upon an affair with anyone, since an adultress generally lost her husband, her home, her children and her position in society.

Still, anyone who writes anything now about Carroll - including me -is indebted to Leach. Anyone interested in Carroll the man needs to read her book, even if they don't agree with it. After a long period out of print, it is coming out as a paperback next month. It is listed for pre-order in bookstores or on Amazon. Not before time.