Journal Entries THE STACKS

Dear Diary


First Sip:

“The time has come,”
the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:

Of shoes – and ships –
and sealing wax –
Of cabbages and kings –

Of why the sea is boiling hot –
And whether pigs have wings.”

Lewis Carroll

Slice of Cake:

Charles Dodgson was a mathematician and an Anglican deacon;
He taught at Christ Church, Oxford;
And he was a photographer.

But most famously, Dodgson was a writer.

Lewis Carroll in 1857
an albumen print photo by Lewis Carroll 1

Up above the world you fly,
Like a
tea tray in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!

— from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll 2

Under the pen name Lewis Carroll,
he wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865
(which includes the song Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat).

And he wrote Through the Looking Glass in 1871,
(which includes the poem Jabberwocky).

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
the frumious Bandersnatch!

— from Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll was also a prolific diarist.
He kept a diary throughout his life.
Starting at age 10.

His early diaries are lost. But nine later volumes still exist.
These cover over 40 years—starting when Lewis Carroll was 23 years old,
and continuing until a few weeks before he died.

I was particularly interested in his 12th (and penultimate) notebook—
the journal he kept when he was in his 50s and 60s.

As the Lewis Carroll Society tells it, this was a time of
intense creative activity for him:

He invented many puzzles and games—
including an early version of Scrabble. (!)

Michelle Canepa

During this time, Lewis Carroll had a big idea:
He wanted to make Alice into a musical for the stage.

Although an early attempt failed—
he approached Gilbert & Sullivan to produce his musical,
but Arthur Sullivan turned him down—
Carroll ultimately succeeded with what he called
his “musical dream play.”

Alice in Wonderland, the Musical opened
on London’s West End in 1886.
It got rave reviews and became a popular and frequent production—
as well as a Christmas tradition—for the next 40 years.

Happy 187th Birthday
** Lewis Carroll **

– born on January 27, 1832
in Cheshire, England

Linger Awhile:

It is all right to wallow in one’s journal;
it is a way of getting rid of self-pity
and self-indulgence and self-centeredness.

What we work out in our journals
we don’t take out on family and friends.

– Madeleine L’Engle
in her introduction to
A Grief Observed by C.S.Lewis

I’ve been thinking this week about diaries
and why we keep them.

Like Lewis Carroll, I have kept journals throughout my life.

Like Lewis Carroll, I usually prefer plain notebooks. And…

Like Lewis Carroll, I started early.

My first three diaries are from: Grade School, High School, and my gap year before starting college.

Here are just a few entries from each—misspellings and all!

I was given a diary for my 9th birthday and starting writing in it that day.
I kept it up—more off than on—for the next 3 years.
(There are maybe two dozen entries total.)

I wrote about happy days, angry days, and days that
at least “started out regular.”

(Oregon meant visiting my baby nephew.)

The very last entry is on New Year’s Eve.

I started my high school diary when I was 15.
My main goal seemed to be self-improvement.
(Mainly through organizing.)

Tuesdays were my day to make dinner for my family.
(I assume that’s what the “desert” was for.)

I never did learn macramé.

By the next Fall, I’d abandoned the to-do lists!
With a new school year starting, I was in a free-flow mode.

Now it was my feelings I was thinking of.
And they were a lot harder to organize!

I wrote of angst, of being grateful for my friends—
and quite a bit about boys—plus the thrill of getting
a part in the school play.

This diary ends at the end of high school—
with me moving away from my hometown.

A few months later, though,
I came back to this book for one last entry.

For the year between high school and college,
I moved to San Francisco, then to Oregon.

I started a new journal in a blank book with a plaid cover.
Writing in it helped me think about the changes that
came with becoming an adult.

I was working toward my dream;
and my dream was college.

And that dream, for me, came true.

“Half Cup More”

Reading one of Lewis Carrol’s later diaries,
I was very charmed by an invention that he came up with.
He called it a Nyctograph and it allows a person to write in the dark.

Here’s how Carroll explains his Nyctograph to The Lady magazine…

Lewis Carroll’s Nyctograph 4

Any one who has tried, as I have often done,
the process of getting out of bed at 2 a.m. in a winter night,
lighting a candle, and recording some happy thought
which would probably be otherwise forgotten, will agree with me:
It entails much discomfort.

All I have now to do,

if I wake and think of something I wish to record,
is to draw from under the pillow…
my Nyctograph,

Write a few lines, or even a few pages,
without even putting the hands outside the bed-clothes,
replace the book, and go to sleep again.

— Lewis Carroll in a letter
to The Lady magazine,


Take-Away Box

Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice.

And she told her sister, as well as she could remember them,
all these strange Adventures of hers

Her sister kissed her, and said, “It was
a curious dream, dear, certainly,
but now run in to your tea, it’s getting late.”

So Alice got up and ran off,
thinking while she ran, as well she might,
what a wonderful dream it had been.

But her sister sat still just as she left her,
leaning her head on her hand, watching the setting sun,

and thinking of little Alice

She pictured to herself how
this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time,
be herself a grown woman; and
how she would
gather about her other little children,
and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale.

– from the last pages of
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll

Thank you for reading!
Kelly J Hardesty

Thoughts? Questions?
Scroll down to the endand you can leave me a note!
Always so lovely to hear from you.

You Can Read More…

Up above the world you fly,
Like a
tea tray in the sky.

— from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s Nyctograph consisted of
two rows of eight boxes cut out of thick cardstock.
Then he developed and memorized a complicated code

compiled of dashes and dots to mimic the alphabet,
using the boxes as a guide.
– Uncle John


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© Kelly J Hardesty 2024

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