Carroll the cleric

First published in Letters

Sir – I applaud Laura Palmer’s championship of the Stammering Foundation (last week’s Letters).

I admire her attempt to rap me over the knuckles for calling Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, ‘the Reverend’ and am impressed the letters page of the Witney Gazette should be read as far away as Texas, if only online.

However, as I am sure Laura knows, while it is likely his stammer caused him not to become a priest, some scholars argue it was because of doctrinal reservations about the established church, others that it was because he was an ardent playgoer at at time when most Victorian clergy frowned upon the theatre.

All we know for certain is that Dean Liddell, father of the immortal Alice, told the shy mathematics don he could not remain at Christ Church in Oxford if he did not proceed with holy orders, but never enforced his edict.

He remained an ordained deacon and people addressed him as the Reverend, as they do deacons to this day.

In fact, a quick trawl of the Internet shows that the Rev CL Dodgson gave the address at a children’s harvest festival service in St Mary Magdalen Church, St Leonard’s-on-Sea, on October 3, 1897, and it was duly published under that name in the November issue of the parish magazine.

Don Chapman, Newland Street, Eynsham

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