Lewis Carroll's Eastbourne holiday snap up for auction

The Argus: The Eastbourne photograph The Eastbourne photograph

A holiday photograph taken by one of the country’s most renowned literary figures is to go under the hammer.

Lewis Carroll, best known for Alice In Wonderland, took the picture on Eastbourne beach in 1882, where he often went on holiday.

Although experts are unsure of the subject, it is thought to be family friend Eleanor Winifred Howes.

It is expected to fetch hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds when it goes under the hammer at Bonhams on March 19.

An expert from the London auctioneers said the photograph was probably taken with the help of commercial photographer William Kent of Eastbourne.

He said: “It is quite possible that Lewis Carroll supervised the taking of the photograph himself, using Kent’s studio, camera and equipment.

“He frequented Kent’s studio quite a few times in 1882. His 1882 diary recorded sessions on July 25, August 1 and 19, and September 3, 8, 16 and 25.”

It is thought the photo in question relates to the shoot on September 8. In his diary he said: “Took Alice to Mr Kent’s at 2, and had two photos done: then Winnie Howes ditto in bathing-dress.”

Carroll, real name Charles Dodgson, made Eastbourne his second home, with regular visits. Such was the frequency the town erected a blue plaque at 7 Lushington Road, where he often stayed.

The author, originally from Surrey, was believed to have favoured Eastbourne for the light and sea breeze. In particular he liked the location to practice his photography.

The photograph, which will be sold mounted on the original piece of card, shows the seven or eight-year-old Miss Howes in a Victorian bathing |costume, holding a traditional bucket and spade, with the sea water washing around her feet.

On the back of the photograph is a signed endorsement from Mr Caroll and the message: “For Miss Symonds, from CL Dodgson, a memento of the beach at Eastbourne in the summer of 1883.”

Among the other items being sold at the March 19 auction is a letter from Mr Carroll bemoaning the drawbacks of fame following the release of Alice In Wonderland.

In the handwritten letter dated 1891 he said: “All that sort of publicity leads to strangers hearing of my real name in connection with the books, and to my being pointed out to, and stared at by strangers and treated as a ‘lion’.”

Go to www.bonhams.com.

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