Writer Lewis Carroll (1832–1898) was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson on this day in Surrey, England, the son of an Anglican clergyman. To overcome stuttering, he told stories aloud to children.
"Life, what is it but a dream?" he said.
He taught advanced mathematics at Oxford University and was quite successful. To balance his "serious" career and to protect his privacy, he invented his pen name and wrote poetry and stories. His Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) began as an oral story he told to friends on a boating trip. The book became an instant success.
"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop," he wrote and published the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass in 1871.
In following the white rabbit or going through the mirror, Alice found a strange world of curious adventures, a celebration of imagination and fantasy. Written at a time when politeness was the theme, Carroll's characters broke convention and inspired children to be clever and inventive. With passionate innovation, Carroll struck an emotional chord with all ages and with subsequent generations.
He said, "If you limit your actions in life to things that nobody can possibly find fault with, you will not do much."
Many decades later, Alice is still very much alive in new books, music, and a 2010 (much anticipated) Tim Burton film.
"Today isn't any other day, you know," Carroll said.
The fun is solving the puzzle.