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    Lost Sherlock Holmes film found and to be shown in Normal

    The Normal Theatre will be showing the recently rediscovered 1916 silent film class Sherlock Holmes. The showings are at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, and Wednesday, Nov. 18. William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes in 1916The film has been called the lost holy grail of silent films. The film was found in the film collection at the Cinémathèque Française and was restored. It has only been shown within the last year. 

    Gillette, who stars as Sherlock Holmes, had played the famous British detective on stage for numerous performances. In fact, he rewrote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's script into a popular theatrical performance. It was Gillette who came up with the hat and the cape. He also changed Holmes' pipe to a rounded pipe so he could talk and smoke while on stage.





    WGLT interviews me about Alice in Wonderland's 150th anniversary

    Thanks to Judy Valente for putting together a smart, charming piece about the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Judy has done so many interesting and intriguing radio pieces for WGLT. Whenever she has interviewed me, it has been a good experience and she always makes me sound much better.

    Here's a link to the interview.'s Charlie Schlenker took this photo of me and aa selection of Alice books. 


    Alice in Wonderland exhibit opening at ISU's Milner Library

    Twelve different illustrators' interpretations of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland will be exhibited in the special collections section of Illinois State University's Milner Library. Included in the exhibit will be Alice related items such as posters and fashion.

    Thanks to the Maureen Brunsdale, special collections librarian, and Reiley Bonislawski, Milner library intern and an English major at ISU, who made this exhibit possible.

    We have received quite a bit of media attention.

    • WMBD-TV reported on putting up the show on Thursday, Nov. 5.

    The Vidette's reporter Brent Bader did several interviews to write his article on the show "Milner Library Celebrates Alice in Wonderland's 150th anniversary." (Nov. 3, 2015)

    • WJBC interviewed me and Reiley Bonislawski last month for a preview about the exhibit.

    The Pantagraph had a mention of the show in its roundup article about arts events this weekend.


    Management pointers by Lewis Carroll

    "Long and painful experience has taught me one great principle in managing business for people, viz, if youQuad at Christ Church, Oxford University want to inspire confidence, give plenty of statistics. It does not matter that they should be accurate, or even intelligble, so long as there are enough of them." Lewis Carroll wrote in Three Years in a Curatorship by One Who Has Tried It (1886).

    Among other things that Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) accomplished at Christ Church Oxford was to supervise the Common Room where faculty would gather for afernoon tea, or a glass or claret. He was responsible for ordering the supplies including a stock of wine with more than 20,000 bottles. Being detailed and fastidious, he also looked to improve the ventilation, lighting and furniture in the Commons Room. He describes this as improving "Airs, Glares, and Chairs." He wanted the room to be cheerful and efficient.A Commons Room today for senior students at Christ Church

    The pamphlet, Three Years in a Curatorship by One Who Has Tried It, records his attempts to keep the Oxford dons well supplied and contented. With Carroll in command, the Commons room was cheerful and efficient. In no way did it resemble The Mad Tea Party in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.


    Abraham Lincoln & Lewis Carroll: A Curious Connection

    Abraham Lincoln photographed by Alexander HesslerIn honor of President’s Day, it’s a good time to observe the curious relationshipLewis Carroll photographed by Reijlander between Abraham Lincoln and Lewis Carroll.  Although the two men never met, I would like to mention some interesting connections between these two famous figures.

    The popular English dramatist, Tom Taylor, was the person who introduced Lewis Carroll to the chief cartoonist of Punch magazine, John Tenniel. Taylor contributed humorous pieces to Punch, which was an significant topical magazine popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Famous for its cartoons, Punch was the nineteenth-century equivalent of The New Yorker. As an avid theatergoer, Carroll knew Taylor from attending the opening of many of his plays. Once Carroll even wrote Taylor correcting him on some of math in his play The Ticket-of-Leave Man. Taylor warned Carroll that Alice’s Adventures Under-Ground, the title for the manuscript that Carroll both wrote and illustrated for Alice Liddell, sounded too much like a book about mining.

    Tenniel's political carton depicting Lincoln in treeCarroll admired Tenniel’s drawings and asked him to illustrate hisTenniel's illustration of Cheshire Cat for Wonderland forthcoming Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Tenniel accepted the challenge; but being a busy, professional artist he recycled some of the images that he had already created for Punch magazine into his illustrations for Wonderland. The most famous example is Alice looking at the Cheshire Cat sitting in a tree. This is a reworking of Tenniel’s 1862 Punch cartoon “ ‘UP A TREE.’ Col. Bull and the Yankee ‘Coon” that features Abraham Lincoln as a raccoon. In the illustration that appears in Wonderland, Lincoln as the raccoon is transformed into the Cheshire Cat.

    In the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois, there is a long hall, called The WhisperingWhispering Gallery in the Lincoln Presidential Museum Gallery, filled with a display of political cartoons criticizing Lincoln prior to his second inauguration. Some of those cartoons were featured there are by John Tenniel who frequently satirized Lincoln in Punch. (Punch actually coined the term ‘cartoon.’)

                Taylor wrote the play Our American Cousin (1858). That comic melodrama was being performed at Ford Theater when President Lincoln and his wife Mary were in the audience April 14, 1865. John Wilkes Booth, a lead actor in the theater’s production of Taylor’s play, assassinated Lincoln during that performance.

                Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in the same year. In 1865, Carroll also wrote American Telegrams, which was an academic satire against Dean Henry George Liddell, the father of Alice Liddell. In it, Carroll parodied telegrams produced during the U.S. Civil WarTom Taylor photographed by Lewis Carroll.

    Carroll photographed Tom Taylor in London wearing an U.S. Civil War uniform.  While Lincoln was the most photographed man of his age, Carroll is considered one of the best amateur photographers, particularly of children, during the same time period. Lincoln was in front of the camera while Carroll was behind the camera.

    Although the two men lived far apart from each other, the lives of Lincoln and Carroll intertwined in interesting ways.


    Cohen, Morton N. Lewis Carroll: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.

    Hancher, Michael. The Tenniel Illustrations to the “Alice” Books. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1985. (Ohio State Univ. Press has the entire book available online.)

    Jones, Jo Elwyn and J. Francis Gladstone. The Alice Companion: A Guide to Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books. New York: New York University Press, 1998.