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Rare Carroll letter goes up for auction
A LETTER written by Oxford author Lewis Carroll that contains an unpublished poem is set to go under the hammer at a unique auction of poetry.
Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, wrote the 238-word letter at Christ Church, Oxford, to a friend on April 21, 1880.
Nearly 133 years to the day later it is being auctioned off at Bonhams in London by manuscript collector Roy Davids, who lives in Great Haseley, near Thame.
In the letter, which is written in Carroll’s distinctive purple ink and is expected to go for £5,000, the 48-year-old author urges a friend, referred to only as Lewis, to come to Oxford and visit him.
In it he says: “Oxford will be looking at its best for this next six weeks.....”
He also debates whether painting is a “higher line of Art” than photography.
It is a particularly rare letter because it includes an unpublished six-line verse on the topic of photography, which at the time was a relatively new art form but one which Carroll became expert in.
Mr Davids, 70, said: “There are few poems by Lewis Carroll which ever come up for auction. This was the only one I think I have seen for a long time.
“When you are 70 you have got to start thinking about what you are going to do with your collection. I am not going to bury it with me so at some point they have got to go.”
Carroll, in real life Christ Church maths don Charles Dodgson, was a prolific letter-writer – during the last 37 years of his life he sent and received a total of 98,721.
This letter is among 263 manuscripts and portraits of poets which have been put up for sale by Mr Davids, who compiled his collection over 40 years.
Included in the auction, which takes place on Wednesday, April 10, is the signed manuscript of Our Modern Watchwords, the only known poem written by Sir Winston Churchill.