ALS signed “C. L. Dodgson,” four pages on two adjoining sheets, 3.5 x 5.5, May 12, 1891. From Christ’s Church, Oxford, Dodgson writes to Mr. Bowles, editor of The Lady and later Vanity Fair. In full: “On April 14, I sent to the Editor of ‘Vanity Fair’ an account of a new word-puzzle I lately completed (rather better than ‘Doublets’ I think), and telling him he was welcome to work it as ‘Doublets’ was done, by setting 2 or 3 every week, and offering prizes. He has sent no reply and I think he has had time enough now to make up his mind. If he is not going to use it, you are welcome to try it in the ‘Lady,’ and I will send you instructions. But we first must make out what ‘V.F.’ intends to do. Would you mind ascertaining this? I don’t want to bring upon myself some such ‘snub’ as ‘Mr. Lewis Carroll is informed that the Editor cannot undertake to write about rejected contributions.” After his signature, Carroll adds a postscript which reads, “I’m glad Lady Malet likes the stamp-case. She tells me that, if I had come, I should ‘only’ have had the task of ‘amusing 3 very good little girls.’ Only! I tried that very thing, on a visit, years ago, for I think 3 whole days. They were very nice, and quite insatiable in the ways of puzzles and stories, and I came back here pretty nearly worn out!” In fine condition, with a central horizontal fold and a pencil notation to top left corner of first page.
At the time of this letter, Dodgson was living at Christ Church in Oxford, where he had lectured in mathematics until 1881. A prolific inventor, he mentions two of his creations: the first, the popular word game “Doublets,” first appeared in The Lady magazine and became a popular parlour game. Later known as the “Word Ladder,” his brain teaser remains popular today. Dodgson’s mention of the “stamp-case” refers to his “Wonderland Postage-Case” which he invented to promote letter writing in 1889. The stamp-holding case was housed in a cloth folder decorated with an image of Alice on one side and the Cheshire Cat on the other. The piece was originally sold with a pamphlet of his lecture, “Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing.”
Dodgson also mentions Lady Ermyntrude Sackville Russell, the wife of Sir Edward Malet, a British diplomat, and their three daughters. Famous for his way with children, Dodgson had a number of child friends who influenced his work, including Alice Liddell, who was thought to have inspired his character Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He also frequently included the names of girls of his acquaintance in acrostic poems in his books. A rare and desirable letter with excellent content. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.