I'm copying this from the ACAP site. You can see the illustrations and hotlinks at http://tinyurl.com/3rm5le7
Lewis Carroll and the albatross: The Mad Gardener's Song
28 August 2011 05:56
Lewis Carroll, Victorian author of the well-known children's stories Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, also wrote a less well-known book entitled Sylvie and Bruno, published in 1899. A poem, The Mad Gardener's Song, appears in the book with an albatross verse:
He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was a Penny-Postage Stamp.
'You'd best be getting home,' he said:
'The nights are very damp!'
Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His brother, the Reverend Edwin Heron Dodgson, was the resident priest on Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic from 1880 to 1884 and again from 1886 to 1889. Assuredly Edwin would have spoken to his brother Charles about his two sojourns on Tristan, who may well have learnt about albatrosses from him.
Click here to view a page of a letter from Carroll to his illustrator, suggesting along with an amusing sketch quite how an albatross could turn into a postage stamp.
Postage stamps issued in 1981 by Tristan da Cunha
to mark the centenary of Edwin Dodgson's arrival on the islands
[Tristan Albatross and chick. Photograph by Ross Wanless/Andrea Angel]
The Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena was likely extinct on the main island of Tristan by the end of the 19th century. However, two other species still breed on the island: the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Thalassarche chlororhynchos and the Sooty Phoebetria fusca Albatrosses. If Lewis Carroll did learn about albatrosses from his brother one could wonder which of the three species (if any) he intended to be illustrated in Sylvie and Bruno.
Click here to read the whole poem: it's quite fun!
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 August 2011
Address: 27 Salamanca Square,
Hobart, 7000, Tasmania, Australia
Tel: +61 3 6233 3123
Copyright©2009 ACAP. All Rights Reserved
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Here are two interesting paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on Tristan's Dodgson:
"Dodgson was to lose his optimism. In 1884 he notes 'Only three of the children show the smallest improvement in intelligence. I attribute this to the unnatural state of isolation in which they are living. It is simply impossible for you to realize the mindlessness of the children and young people and also of the grown-up people...' He despaired of the situation, and remarked, 'There is not the slightest reason for this island to be inhabited at all. It has been my daily prayer that God would open up some way for us all to leave the island.' Thus he advocated the evacuation of the island, and on this he seriously disagreed with Peter Green, the principal spokesman for the island."
"Fifteen working men,a large portion of the adult male population of Tristan, had perished in a boat accident in 1885. When Dodgson learned of this he actively sought to aid the surviving inhabitants and the Colonial Office paid for his return to Tristan da Cunha on board HMS Thalia. He arrived on the island on 4 August 1886. 'I think it is my plain duty to throw in my lot with them and minister to their souls,' he wrote. He remained at Tristan, for a time without any stipend, until December 1889 when again he had to return to England because of poor health. At that time he remarked, 'I have not the slightest intention of going back to Tristan da Cunha. The intellect of the Tristanites is now so dwarfed by reason of their utter isolation that I do not think that I or anyone else could be of use to them. The only thing is to get them all away so that no more children may be brought up there.' Tristan then remained without a priest until 1906."