The books > Does John Tenniel's "beamish boy" look like Alice

Discuss Lewis Carroll's books "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" here!

Postby 3rdpoliceman » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:15 pm

Perhaps it is the White Knight.
Though I like the Father William theory better.

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Postby beamish_boi » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:28 am

Now, this topic is very interesting to me because of my username and why I chose it. I chose this username not only because of its connection to the Jabberwock poem and AAiW, but also with the intent to (mis)spell "boy" as "boi" - which is the best way I would describe my own gender identity, as my own personal definition of "boi" - which may or may not be shared with the GLBTQ community at large - is an androgynous woman who doesn't completely identify as female but is reluctant to be referred to as 'male'.

I hadn't yet seen the Tenniel illustration when first creating my account here, but the suggestion that the true "beamish boy" may be portrayed by Alice/some other young woman wearing male garments is something that really resonates with me.

I like the suggestion I saw near the beginning of the thread that it could be a female dressed as a male in the tradition of Victorian theater of the time, and I would like to add that a possible reference to that doesn't seem too out-of-place when you consider that other Tenniel illustrations have possible commentaries on aspects of Victorian society at the time, such as Pat the ape either being a reference to evolution or possibly the English view of the Irish, and the man wearing a paper hat and the Mad Hatter being drawn to resemble a famous politician.


Postby 3rdpoliceman » Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:42 pm

Adrogyny is AWESOME!
Rather an interesting theory. I never knew Pat was an ape, but that actually makes a lot of sense (especially since Carroll opposed Home Rule).
The hair does look like Alice's, but then again you always see pictures of Jesus and King Arthur's Knight with the same kind of hair...mine might even be a bit like that, only not as long (though still quite long).

Perhaps it's a proportion thing though. The beamish boy looks Alice-sized in comparison to the Jabberwock, but is probably much taller than her.

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Postby Beautiful Soup » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:15 am

Hello ancient thread :)

I made a discovery today...Or rather, I joined some dots which I hadn't before....
@Beautiful Soup: yes, obviously there were stories of women killing dragons in history before Alice was written. Never with a sword, though, certainly not dressed as boys, and it wasn't thought of at the (Victorian) time, which is what I said.
...In response to my raising St Margaret of Antioch as a female dragon slayer, Simbabbad asserts that women killing dragons wasn't thought of in the Victorian era

Well today I was having a look online at the treacle well in Bisley - thought of as the inspiration for the Dormouse's treacle well - and who should it turn out to be dedicated to but none other than St Margaret of Antioch!

Not only that but the vicar of the well's church from 1859-1891 was a friend of Lewis Carroll's who organised the restoration of the well and donated a pulpit which features a stone relief of Margaret and the dragon!

So the idea that this tale of a woman slaying a dragon had fallen from the minds of the Victorians couldn't be more wrong - to the point where one of Lewis Carroll's actual friends is recorded as commemorating the story

Fernando S.

Re: Does John Tenniel's "beamish boy" look like Alice

Postby Fernando S. » Sun May 14, 2017 2:23 am

If I remember correctly Carroll posed at least one young woman in chain-mail and holding a sword (a knight?), for one of his photographs. So if this wasn't Victorian, he appears to make it so. This picture would likely point to the very ambiguity in question, probably pointing to the possible relationship between the "boy/son and Alice - as Child(e) vanquishers in L-G.

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Re: Does John Tenniel's "beamish boy" look like Alice

Postby Cheshire Dodo » Sun May 14, 2017 3:30 pm

Having just read entire post for the first time, it appears that some confusion exists about whether "Jabberwocky" is meant to be an "Alice" story / poem?

For Alice to be the Jabberwock’s slayer it would have to be an actual hostile / evil creature.

This seems to be at odds with the events / characters in the books, as no one gets their head cut off; despite how many times the Queen of Hearts orders it, and the battle in Chapter VII of “Through the Looking Glass” where the soldiers just to fall over each other than fight. AIW:-)

Personally, I think if the Jabberwock was a real Wonderland / Looking Glass Land being, it would be like the one in the 1983 animated series: ... Characters

which is hardly makes it an evil creature, deserving of being killed DIS:-/ I’ve only seen the first part of it so far though. The series is on You-Tube here: ... N0OzBUzClQ

However, the question is not:

“Does Alice slay the Jabberwock?”


“Does John Tenniel's "beamish boy" look like Alice?”

From what we can see of the character, then the answer is Yes. DIS:-)

Fernando S.

Re: Does John Tenniel's "beamish boy" look like Alice

Postby Fernando S. » Fri May 19, 2017 1:51 am

The maiden in chain mail, holding a sword, in Carroll's photograph was a Miss Laurie. Carroll posed and took this photo in 1875. He also took some of a small boy on horseback (wooden horse), also holding a sword and striking a strange Dragon (someone wearing a leopard hide or something of the sort) and I think he called it "St. George and the Dragon.

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