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Re: [lewiscarroll] Collingwood's book

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  • Keith Wright
    Joe, on the question of the Collingwood family fortune. Dodgson certainly thought they were likely to be in dire straights as he sent £50 to Mary on the 5th
    Message 1 of 36 , Mar 1, 2006
      on the question of the Collingwood family fortune.  Dodgson certainly thought they were likely to be in dire straights as he sent £50 to Mary on the 5th January 1898 and also wrote to Stuart on the same day about keeping the funeral costs down. He ended his letter 'You and your mother will have to live with the strictest economy: you have no money to throw away.'
      As the wife of a rector she would of course have to vacate the vicarage at Southwick near Sunderland in a reasonable time so the new incumbent could move in - which would involve expense beyond that of the funeral. Stuart no doubt had to attend to this move before he could start the book.
      It would be interesting to know when Stuart Collingwood came up with the idea of a biography and when he actually started the research.  As you say 'Life and Letters' was published in December of the year Dodgson died on 14th January, it is 448 pages long and contains about 80 illustrations, some of which are copies of letters but others he would possibly have had to obtain himself.  There are errors in it but nothing untoward so he obviously must have spent about nine months on the book and in my opinion did quite a good job in the circumstances.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Joe Soap
      Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 5:16 PM
      Subject: [lewiscarroll] Collingwood's book

      Yes, it must have been very difficult for Collingwood to write his book.  To make matters worse, his mother (and he, himself) were newly bereaved.  As well as losing her husband and a brother of whom she was fond, Mary Collingwood had had the additional stress of being forced to up-sticks from Sunderland and move in with her sisters in Guildford; and she may have been financially stretched.

      The book was written surprisingly quickly, less than a year to plan, research, write and publish.  I suspect that, before he could read the diaries, he would have had to wait for his uncle(s) to read them first.  Wilfred would surely have wanted to check to see what scandals his brother had recorded before the rest of the family read about them.  I know that Collingwood quotes from all the diaries - but does that mean that he actually read them all? 
      We don't know which of the siblings recalled the cart passing the window as the most exciting thing that ever happened in Daresbury but perhaps it is not so absurd when you think that six of his siblings were under ten when they had left the place fifty five years before - childhood memories often seem trivial from an adult perspective!  Only Francis and Elizabeth (who were fifteen and thirteen when they left Daresbury) could have had any cohesive memories of their life there.

      Keith Wright <keith@...> wrote:
      Collingwood likewise.  He ha d even worse 'conditions' to write his book 'The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll.'  He was stationed in the Chestnuts at Guildford under the gaze of six of Dodgson's sisters, one of whom was his mother.  Collingwood at least knew Dodgson personally but even so he wasn't born until 1870 so he only knew Dodgson as adult for less than ten years.  All the data previous to that time had to come from the sisters, hence things such as the ridiculous story of a passing cart being a major event in Daresbury.  Daresbury in the 1830's was the sphagetti junction of the canal system - no way was it a backwater.  It was a also a stopping place on the Warrington - Chester Road and had shops and tradesmen by the dozen.  It had two rail lines through it by the time the Dodgsons left for Croft in 1843.  Collingwood just did not know all this so he was misled by a ridiculous anecdote.

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    • Keith Wright
      Jenny, I didn t think you were peeved about my posting because I knew you had no reason to be so, I thought you were peeved by what whoever told you about it
      Message 36 of 36 , Mar 3, 2006

        I didn't think you were peeved about my posting because I knew you had no
        reason to be so, I thought you were peeved by what whoever told you about it
        had said because I know what scurrilous rascals they are who cause these
        upsets. Pity they have nothing better to do.

        You've covered a lot of ground in your reply.

        The value of a parish in those days varied and it would be necessary to look
        at the stipend for Southwick. Sunderland is of course close to some rich
        benefactors related to Liddell but I have not done the research needed to
        establish Collingwood's income.

        If you remove the £100 pound loan in 1882 it still means he paid 19% of his
        income to Collingwood. I very much doubt that Mary would operate her own
        bank account though. She took the first chance of escape from the family
        when father died in 1868 but old habits die hard and she was 33 years old
        and Collingwood was 37 - so he had probably been dealing with banking for
        well over 10 years so on balance I'd say it very likely that Collingwood
        himself operated their bank account. The amounts paid could simply be high
        if the other sisters told CLD to pay their share to Mary as she had
        youngsters to bring up and they didn't. The Dodgsons are noted for their
        kindness even nowadays so there will be some rational explanation which
        won't be tied up in a conspiracy!

        The loan could simply be Christmas presents for the boys, or some need in
        the parish. It was paid back very quickly. I think CLD regarded
        Skeffington as a lost cause as he got married on September 14th 1880 at
        Bridlington without telling his family. The marriage did however work out
        and CLD came to like his new sister in law who probably saved Skeffington
        from any further hassle. The three surviving daughters were born in 1884,
        1888 and 1890 - but it is possible that CLD thought he should not interfere
        the affairs of a brother who was after all 44 years old before he got

        As you say the diary is not a good indicator of his life in that it rarely
        indicates his thoughts and at times seems to be written for an audience so
        is sanitised. it is useful for where he went and who he met though and from
        that point of view it succeeds especially with the extra info provided by
        the footnotes which comes from census records etc. things such as giving the
        age of the people he met. That info takes ages to sort out and credit where
        it is due.

        What we have is two records, diary and bank account which even together do
        not form a comprehensive picture. The diaries may have been written to give
        a slant especially when he came to the realisation that he was famous, but
        the bank account must represent the truth albeit only partly but not caused
        by deception but by omission.

        I am re-reading Becker Lennon also and although the vast majority of her
        book is speculation and it is full of errors there are glimpses there of
        what people said about CLD and extracting these can be useful. She makes
        some elementary errors such as appointing Liddon as Dean of St. Paul's when
        he wasn't, and building a case on it, but she also met Lorina and Alice plus
        others who knew CLD personally, something a modern biographer cannot do and
        from that point of view her book is valuable. She makes a big thing of
        Liddon and to some extent Pusey but when both died CLD did not attend their
        funerals. He noted Pusey's death in his diary for September 1882 but that
        was all, folk came from all over the country to the funeral in Oxford,
        Liddon came back from Switzerland when he heard that Pusey was dying but CLD
        did not come from Eastbourne! Pusey's funeral was one of the biggest in
        Oxford for many a year so either he wasn't invited or he chose not to come.
        Wonder why? When Liddon died in 1890 there is just a mention on Sept 10th
        1890 'I see by the papers that my dear old friend Dr. Liddon died yesterday'
        No mention of attending the funeral.


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "jenny2write" <woolf@...>
        To: <lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, March 03, 2006 6:20 PM
        Subject: [lewiscarroll] Re: Collingwood finances (was "Collingwood's book")

        What you say is very interesting, Keith. I hope you did not get the
        impression I was peeved with anything you had said about my book: I
        think it is quite hard to get information out of it but it is well
        worth doing for anyone like yourself with a serious and informed
        interest in Carroll. I am only too aware that we need people to
        conduct more research. there are so many mysteries which will
        probably be partly solvable by anyone who has for instance looked
        into his other financial dealings or aspects of his family life.

        Regarding the money to "Collingwood" you mention in 1882, there are a
        number of issues. It is not clear to me whether the money was paid to
        Mary or to her husband. It could have been either. The Married WOmens
        Property Act was passed in 1882 which would have given her the right
        to have her own money but I don't know what month it was passed in.

        The sums he paid to Collingwood, even allowing for a £100 loan, were
        probably too much to be her personal income from the trust fund which
        archdeacon Dodgson set up for his daughters, although one would have
        to check that out. There were 7 daughters, all unmarried when he set
        up the trust, and my impression is that the he just did not have
        enough cash to provide a lump sum that would produce that much per
        daughter. Multiply by fifty to get approximate modern sums in pounds.

        I myself think that some of this money came from the fund, but not
        most of it. It could also have been income from Rev Collingwood's
        own investments, but I think not because if Collingwood had that much
        money he wouldn't haev needed loans, CLD wouldn't have needed to help
        Mary with the boys' education, and one would wonder why CLD was
        deaing with any huge investments for his brother in law.

        If it was gifts, then ... why?? THis is where the investigation of
        the Collingwoods might become interesting. Did Rev Collingwood have a
        particularly poor living? And if so, why didn't CLD help Skeffington,
        who was living on £40 a year I believe, at Vowchurch. (haven't
        checked that figure recently, so correct me if I'm wrong. But it was
        something very low indeed). He also didn't help the other sisters
        anything like as much as Mary. Someone once said that the Rev.
        Collingwood was often ill. Could "ill", I wonder, be a euphemism
        for "alcoholic" or "suffering from mental problems". I am not saying
        it was, poor man, he may have been totally blameless, but if not then
        perhaps the income he did have was gone through very quickly. Anyone
        who checks out the Collingwoods might find out more to prove or
        disprove this. On the other hand, perhaps education was incredibly
        expensive and CLD just paid for the whole lot, but I don't know how
        much the boys' school fees were. I wish I could have investigated
        every possible item to the fullest extent, but this is why I am glad
        the book has gone into so many universities, because I hope that at
        various times some people will start investigating this kind of

        Your other points:

        However, in 1882 he drew out to SELF an amount of
        > £277 which is equivalent to 24% of his expenditure. This amount is
        > un-accounted for in the diaries except on the odd occasion for
        example when
        > he tried to save money by travelling 2nd class and still paid the
        > amount for his ticket! No analysis can neglect 24% of it's
        statistics and
        > the most important 24% at that.

        If you look at the year as a whole it's not so puzzling. He drew an
        average just over £10 a month cash (equivalent of £500 now) during
        Feb, March, April, May, November and December. He drew £15 a month
        (approx £750 now) in June and October. His average monthly
        expenditure during July, August, Sept and early October, when he was
        on vacation, was £28.15s, roughly equivalent now to £1450 per month.

        But in term time most of his day-to-day living expenses were paid for
        separately and did not come out of his 'CASH' withdrawals. Whereas
        when he went away, he was paying rent, fares, entertainment, meals
        out, etc. and they all came out of this "cash". Luckily old him for
        having 3 or 4 months hols a year, but anyway I think most of us would
        not think this is entirely unreasonable looked at like this.

        What I find much more puzzling is another period during which he drew
        out more than his diaries seem to be able to account for - the latter
        end of the missing diary period and on into 1863. This runs over
        several years and cannot be averaged out in a sensible sort of way,
        at least not to me, and it doesn't tie up with anything in the
        remaining diaries that he was doing or buying.

        Anyway Keith, one thing I have concluded from this is that his diary
        is NOT particularly reliable in giving a picture of his life. Just
        because the diary is there, we tend to assume it is offering a true
        picture. The fact is that sometimes quite big things were clearly
        going on in his life as shown by the account - for instance a truly
        crippling overdraft which the bank had to write to him about - which
        the diary simply omits. It also shows that when CLD was pleading
        poverty, as he occasionally did, he was not necessarily that badly
        off, and certainly nothing like as badly off as when he was paying a
        fortune in overdraft fees!

        I do entirely understand your point of view that you cannot identify
        what was paid to him directly in cash and even the things marked
        as "cash" may have been something like payments from Macmillans for
        book revenues. I am the first one to say that this account does not
        and can not give a complete picture of his financial affairs,
        particularly in the early years of the account. But it does add
        another dimension to his life, points out possible avenues which have
        not previously been explored and explains some things which were not
        previously understood. Above all it gives facts.We just cannot argue
        about the reality of these figures, which have never been manipulated
        or changed in any way. To me they are exciting because they show that
        he had a life outside all that we think we know from reading the
        letters which reflect his social image or the edited,slanted and even
        censored personal information which has been allowed to come down to
        us. That is an amazing bonus. Cheers, Jenny

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