Alice’s Father
The Life of Henry Liddell,
Dean of Christ Church, Oxford
John Witheridge

The father of Alice Liddell, the eponymous heroine of Alice in Wonderland, was a formidable Victorian and an important and influential figure in the annals of Oxford University. A brilliant Greek scholar, talented artist, teacher and administrator, Henry George Liddell devoted over fifty years of his long life to Christ Church, Oxford’s largest and grandest college. After nine years in London as Head Master of Westminster School, Liddell returned to Christ Church as Dean, head of both the cathedral and the college which at Christ Church are uniquely combined. During the next thirty-six years, Liddell initiated and encouraged extensive reforms, improvements and new buildings. His tenure as Dean is one of the most important and eventful periods in Christ Church’s history.

Alongside his work at Christ Church, Liddell also undertook, with Robert Scott, the herculean task of compiling the celebrated Greek-English Lexicon known to generations of classicists as
Liddell & Scott. He was also to exercise a significant role in the governance of the University itself, the Bodleian Library, the University Museum and Galleries, and the University Press.

Among those whom Liddell appointed at Christ Church was the mathematical lecturer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known today as the author Lewis Carrroll. It was in the deanery garden that Dodgson first befriended and photographed the Liddell’s daughters, and it was at Christ Church that his celebrated Alice stories were written. Though the books were a source of pride to her parents, their relationship with Dodgson was often critical and strained. This biography explores the Liddell’s family life, and what it was like to live in the heart of the college favoured by princes and peers.

John Witheridge has been Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Senior Chaplain at Eton, Headmaster of Charterhouse, and a Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II. This is his fourth biography. His life of Dean Stanley of Westminster was acclaimed by the Times Literary Supplement as ‘a joyous book…an inspiration.’ He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

978 085244 865 6

186 pages plus 16 pages B & W photograph plates


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