Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life by Robin Wilson - review by David Singmaster

David Singmaster

Here’s Looking at Euclid

Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 237pp £16.99

Although Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There have become classics, few readers know much of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898), who mock-latinised his name to Lewis Carroll and was a Student (equivalent to a Fellow) at Christ Church, Oxford, and Mathematical Lecturer there from 1855 to 1881.

Robin Wilson is well qualified to present Carroll's life and mathematics. A fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and the current Gresham Professor of Geometry in London, he has written several books on the history of mathematics and Sudoku. The present book covers much of Carroll's multifaceted life and mathematical work, with tinges of Carrollian whimsy – for example, the book is divided into eight ‘fits’, with the material on geometry beginning with 'Here's looking at Euclid'. The work is basically biographical, but the second half interweaves the life with Carroll's mathematics.

Dodgson (pronounced 'Dodson' by the family) was the third of eleven children and eldest son of a poor clergyman. He entered Christ Church in 1851, where he remained until his death. He was top of the Firsts in mathematics in 1854. His Victorian childhood and schooling, and the cloistered, celibate

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