Dodgson's friendships with young girls, together with his perceived lack of interest in romantic attachments to adult women, and psychological readings of his work—especially his photographs of nude or semi-nude girls —have all led to speculation that he was a paedophile. This possibility has underpinned numerous modern interpretations of his life and work, particularly Dennis Potter's play Alice and his screenplay for the motion picture, Dreamchild, and even more importantly Robert Wilson's Alice, and a number of recent biographies, including Michael Bakewell's Lewis Carroll: A Biography (1996), Donald Thomas's Lewis Carroll: A Portrait with Background (1995) and Morton N. Cohen's Lewis Carroll: A Biography (1995). All of these works more or less unequivocally assume that Dodgson was a paedophile, albeit a repressed and celibate one.
Cohen claims Dodgson's "sexual energies sought unconventional outlets", and further writes:
We cannot know to what extent sexual urges lay behind Charles's preference for drawing and photographing children in the nude. He contended the preference was entirely aesthetic. But given his emotional attachment to children as well as his aesthetic appreciation of their forms, his assertion that his interest was strictly artistic is naïve. He probably felt more than he dared acknowledge, even to himself.
Cohen notes that Dodgson "apparently convinced many of his friends that his attachment to the nude female child form was free of any eroticism", but adds that "later generations look beneath the surface"
Cohen and other biographers argue that Dodgson may have wanted to marry the 11-year old Alice Liddell and that this was the cause of the unexplained "break" with the family in June 1863. But there has never been significant evidence to support the idea, and the 1996 discovery of the "cut pages in diary document" might imply that the 1863 "break" had less to do with Alice, but was perhaps connected with rumours involving her older sister Lorina, or possibly their governess.
Some writers, e.g., Derek Hudson and Roger Lancelyn Green, stop short of identifying Dodgson as a paedophile but concur that he had a passion for small female children and next to no interest in the adult world.
At least four complete volumes and around seven pages of text are missing from Dodgson's 13 diaries. The loss of the volumes remains unexplained; the pages have been deliberately removed by an unknown hand. Most scholars assume the diary material was removed by family members in the interests of preserving the family name, but this has not been proven. All of the missing material, with the exception of a single page, is believed to date from the period between 1853 (when Dodgson was 22) and 1863 (when he was 32).However, diary entries between 1853 and 1863 still exist.
Many theories have been put forward to explain the missing material. A popular explanation for one particular missing page (27 June 1863) is that it might have been torn out to conceal the belief that Dodgson had proposed marriage on that day to the 11-year old Alice Liddell. However, there has never been any evidence to suggest this was so, and a paper that came to light in the Dodgson family archive in 1996 alleges some evidence to the contrary.
This paper, known as the "cut pages in diary document", was compiled by various members of Carroll's family after his death. Part of it may have been written at the time the pages were destroyed, though this is unclear. The document offers a brief summary of two diary pages that are now missing, including the one for 27 June 1863. The summary for 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. What is deemed most crucial and surprising is that the document seems to imply Dodgson's break with the family was not connected with Alice at all. However, until a primary source is discovered, the events of 27 June 1863 remain inconclusive.
Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend is a 1996 book by Richard Wallace in which Wallace proposed a theory that British author Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles L. Dodgson (1832-1898) and his colleague Thomas Vere Bayne were responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders.
This theory was based primarily on a number of anagrams derived from passages in two of Carroll's works, The Nursery Alice, an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for younger readers, and from the first volume of Sylvie and Bruno. Carroll first published both works in 1889 and was probably still working on them during the period of the Ripper murders. Wallace claimed that the books contained hidden but detailed descriptions of the murders. This theory gained enough attention to make Carroll a late but notable addition to the list of suspects, although one that is generally not taken very seriously.
Carroll's recent biographers and Ripperologists have argued that this theory has some very serious flaws. One of the most vocal critics was Karoline Leach, who in a lecture about Wallace's theory gave three main arguments against it:
The same method of anagrams can be applied to any number of works written in the Latin alphabet and using the English language without proving any intention by the original author. Leach demonstrated her point by applying it to passages of A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.
Carroll and Bayne had clear alibis for at least three of the murders:
On April 3, 1888, when Emma Elizabeth Smith was attacked in London, Carroll was in Oxford and was temporarily unable to walk due to health problems. (Although most authorities do not believe the Ripper was responsible for Smith's injuries.)
From August 31 through September 30, 1888, when Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were killed, Carroll was vacationing in Eastbourne, East Sussex along with Isa Bowman, a child actress and personal friend of his. Meanwhile, Thomas Vere Bayne had severe back pain during the summer of 1888 and was barely able to move.
On November 9, 1888, when Mary Jane Kelly was killed, both Carroll and Bayne were reportedly in Oxford.
Carroll had some interest in the Jack the Ripper case, though given the intense publicity given to the murders, his interest was hardly unusual. An August 26, 1891 passage of his diary reports that he spoke that day with Dr. Dabbs, an acquaintance of his, about "his very ingenious theory about 'Jack the Ripper'". Although the theory he refers to is unknown, the passage does not indicate that Carroll was personally involved in the case. Similarly, anagram aficionados Francis Heaney and Guy Jacobson pointed out that similarly incriminating anagrams could be derived from Wallace's own book. When Harper's Magazine excerpted Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend, Heaney and Jacobson wrote in response that its first three sentences:
This is my story of Jack the Ripper, the man behind Britain's worst unsolved murders. It is a story that points to the unlikeliest of suspects: a man who wrote children's stories. That man is Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, author of such beloved books as Alice in Wonderland.
are an anagram of:
The truth is this: I, Richard Wallace, stabbed and killed a muted Nicole Brown in cold blood, severing her throat with my trusty shiv's strokes. I set up Orenthal James Simpson, who is utterly innocent of this murder. P.S. I also wrote Shakespeare's sonnets, and a lot of Francis Bacon's works too.
Carroll has been voted by the staff and readers of Casebook: Jack the Ripper as the least likely suspect (out of 22 names featured) to have actually been Jack the Ripper.