The ONLY biography that is even remotely believable is Morton Cohen's..
Go on Amazon to the reviews of Ms. Leach's book and see my rebuttal to her ill conceived and dangerous book.
For the record:
What an Embarrassment!!!, June 1, 2008
This review is from: In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: A New Understanding of Lewis Carroll (Hardcover)
I cannot believe that many take this book seriously when it is based on such scanty. flimsy "evidence" which calls for HUGE assumptions by the author. You also don't write a historical theses by picking and choosing what facts to include or ignore. I will now, in a very short comment, blow her thesis out of the water....Nothing in the diary page that Ms. Leach quotes from proves anything, and is greatly taken out of context. She totally ignores more obvious evidence to the contrary, other letters, diary entries, and the words of Carroll himself! While it is nice that she jumps off the Carroll as pedophile band-wagon, it is not enough to, under the guise of scholarship, make so much from so little...
While many people in Oxford thought Carroll's attentions to be for the governess, this was understandable because to think of a grown Oxford don in love with the Dean's daughter was more far fetched.
However, Mrs. Liddell and Carroll himself didn't think so....
Carroll in his later diaries mentioned a long talk with Mrs. Liddell after Alice's marriage, where he admits to his "foolish" ways (toward Alice) in the past, and his subsequent estrangement from the Deanery. During that talk, Mrs. Liddell forgives him. (note: that with Alice's marriage, she didn't view Carroll as the "threat" he once was)
Ina, Alice's sister in letters to Alice before her death , mentions that she always thought Dodgson was in love with her sister, and when Alice denies this, Ina points out the many times she had been sitting inappropriately on Dodgson's lap and alludes to other incidents.
Then, there is the letter to Carroll's uncle, where he is upset at the news that his brother wants to marry 14 year old Alice Jane Donkin.
Carroll alludes to the similar problems he himself had gone through with "AL"..now..who could THAT be??
And why DID Alice's mother burn all of Carroll's letter to her daughter?
Because of his love for the governess?
I think not.
As to Alice...YES, he was in love with her (NOT THE GOVERNESS, NOT ALICE'S MOTHER, NOT LORINA) and did want to marry her.
There is undeniable proof.
First..he mentioned in a letter to his uncle Skeffington, concerning the romantic attachment of his brother to another Alice...Alice Donkin who was just 14. (They eventually DID marry when she turned 18)
In the letter,he mentions that he didn't want his brother to share the same pain that he went through under similar conditions with "A.L" (now who could THAT be?)
Again, other letters and diary accounts, we learn that later in life, after Alice was married, both he and Alice's mother had a long talk about those times..and they reconciled their differences...
He referred to his "attachment" to Alice as his "foolishness" and now that Alice was a married woman, Alice's mother no longer felt Dodgson a threat to her ambitions for her daughter's future.
THIS is why she had burned his letters to Alice when she was a child, and what caused the rift..
Also, why did Carroll continue to dedicate all editions of Alice, and present her (Alice) with EVERY copy of every major edition until the day he died, yet years after Alice had grown up, while sending a token gift, was invited, but did not attend Alice's wedding?
Surely, even as a once close family friend to say the least, it would have been the proper thing to do. But...he could not bring himself to attend. Maybe...because the finality marriage was too much for a man who had devoted 1/2 his life to his singular dreamchild??
In true Victorian fashion, he had meekly, and informally confessed to Alice's mother, his growing feelings for Alice, and the possibility of marriage to Alice in the future if they both felt the same way towards each other.
Alice's mother of course refused..not that she didn't like Dodgson, or thought him a pervert, but most likely because she thought Dodgson not ambitious enough for her daughter.
Even after he became famous for writing the Alice books, he still did not have the taste for the aristocracy that Alice's mother sought (remember, Alice was distantly related to Queen Victoria,and subsequent royalty including the Queen Mother of Elizabeth II.) As well as having hopes of Alice marring Prince Leopold, Victoria's son)
The real insight here is that she would have just laughed off his proposals if he alone had those feelings...but because her daughter Alice also probably had expressed a likewise unique fondness for "Mr. Dodgson"..she considered it a true threat, and subsequently banning Dodgson from seeing Alice, and burning his letters to her which surely must have had a romantic aspect. (Or why burn them?)
Nearing the end of their lives, the two surviving Liddell sisters, Alice and Lorina had a correspondence concerning a biographer's attempt to find out about the "romantic" nature of Alice's relationship with Dodgson. While not knowing how to answer the biographer, she made a non committed reply, but went on in her letters to remind Alice of the closeness, and physicality between herself I(Alice) and Dodgson.
The main issue with the "cut-diary" papers, concerning the famous 1863 break with the Liddell family "discovered by Leach, is not what they say, but her flimsy interpretation of them.
... this page states that Mrs. Liddell told Dodgson there was gossip circulating about him and the Liddell family's governess, as well as about his relationship with "Ina", presumably Alice's older sister, Lorina Liddell. The "break" with the Liddell family that occurred soon after was presumably in response to this gossip. An alternate interpretation has been made regarding Carroll's rumored involvement with "Ina": Lorina was also the name of Alice Liddell's mother
So..Leach believes that Dodgson was possibly in love with either of the three, Mother, older sister, or governess...but the truth, which she cannot see is staring her right in the face.
It is pretty obvious what really happened...
When being confronted by Alice's mother concerning these rumors.....and possibly being told that he should not frequent the deanery so often (until the rumors died down) Dodson who during the almost rapture-like account of taking Alice ALONE un-chaperoned, to see the fireworks in celebration of the royal marriage, if he did not directly propose to Alice herself that night, may have felt that his hand was being forced, and broke down and told Alice's mother his true feelings for young Alice.
This makes perfect sense because Alice herself said in an interview when visiting New York to receive an honorary degree fro Columbia, that her mother had destroyed all the letters Dodson had written her.
So...why would a little girl be saving all those letters, and what would make her mother throw them into the fire (not just merely tossing them away) unless the unsettling business WAS ALL about Alice???
Certainly, she wouldn't have thought to remove all traces of what most likely was thinly veiled love letters to a little girl, if she thought all the fuss was about the governess, herself (a happily married woman by the way) or her eldest daughter.
I sure would like Ms. Leach to comment on THAT!!
To those still skeptical, I should only ask them to revisit the poems Dodgson wrote framing the two Alice books...the true answers are there.
I hope this answers your questions!!