Her arms across her breast she laid;
She was more fair than words can say:
Bare-footed came the beggar maid
Before the king Cophetua.
In robe and crown the king stept down,
To meet and greet her on her way;
“It is no wonder,” said the lords,
“She is more beautiful than day”.

As shines the moon in clouded skies,
She in her poor attire was seen:
One praised her ancles, one her eyes,
One her dark hair and lovesome mien:
So sweet a face, such angel grace,
In all that land had never been:
Cophetua sware a royal oath:
“This beggar maid shall be my queen!”

The Beggar Maid
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (written 1833, published 1842)

On the 4th of May 1852, a one hundred and sixty-four years ago today, Alice Liddell was born. Whilst recently working on a little film for Alice Day (25th April) I revisited the photographs Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) took of Alice. Amongst these was, of course, Dodgson’s most famous photograph: the one he took in 1858, inspired by Tennyson’s poem.

The countless essays and hundreds of thousands of words that have been devoted to this photograph attest to its power. It has delighted, infuriated, intrigued, troubled and moved both Kind and un-Kind alike. Even after we’ve absorbed every square millimeter of its surface, noticed and noted every one of its elements and details, its power is not exhausted but remains, grows even, a quality that only the greatest photographs possess.

The traditional photographer has a limited repertoire of tools available to him for effecting the kind of revelation embodied in a photograph such as this one. The most significant ones (arguably) are the choice of lens, which determines how perspective is rendered (wide-angle, normal, telephoto); where he places the camera in relation to his subject; what shape he cuts out from the visual reality in front of the camera (usually some form of rectangle); and the moment and the duration of exposure.

Dodgson’s Camera – the Double-Folding Ottewill

The photographer can also control the size of the lens’s aperture – which affects the duration of the exposure and the depth of the plane of focus; and there are many choices to be made concerning the light-sensitive surface that will record the image: its size, its exposure and development.

Finally one must not forget that with some kinds of subject (portraiture, still life) the photographer can interact with his subject and arrange what is in front of the lens.

The photograph


Dodgson’s main reason for placing Alice next to a wall was to give her something to lean against, thus helping her to keep still during the long exposure required by the collodion plates he used (half a minute to a minute in good light). Likewise the rug at her feet is there for Alice’s comfort.

The camera has been placed at head height. It is likely that Dodgson performed many of tasks necessary for the taking of this photograph on his knees – including composing and framing the photograph in the ground glass screen at the back of the camera, a dark cloth over his head to make the dim, desaturated, inverted image visible.

alice-liddell-bef-aft1 i

Next, with a magnifying glass, he would have adjusted the point of maximum focus for her eyes.


Elements of this photograph hint at different time scales: the wall’s permanence, age and roughness contrast with Alice’s youth and the purity and evenness of her skin. Alice herself, though evidently mortal, to a certain extent transcends time because she provokes in us emotions that are experienced in our present.

Only the nasturtiums at her feet feel temporal and temporary in this image. A photograph taken earlier on in this session shows them in a better state, though in the process of being trodden down. Notice also that Dodgson has shifted the camera’s position (which would have sat upon a tripod) between these two exposures.


In the Beggar Maid photograph we see the nasturtiums being further trodden down, this time by Alice’s bare left foot. They are as much memento mori as, say, the broken lute string in Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors‘. And, like that broken string, their role is more convincing for their being inconspicuous.

Those nasturtiums that have survived Alice’s feet turn towards us as if seeking our attention. However, next to Alice, they remain insignificant, ‘unrevived’ by our lack of interest in their fate. The fate of these plants, in an inconspicuous corner of this photograph, reminds us that compassion is not a necessary adjunct of beauty.

Her right Foot

Alice’s right foot is too close to the bottom edge of the picture.

One of the laws of visual composition is that any bright or otherwise important part of an image that is close to an edge will draw the viewer’s eye towards that edge and out of the frame of the picture. Controlling how the eye travels over the image is the essence of the art of composition (whether in photography, painting, sculpture or film) and the spell of the image is broken whenever the viewer’s eye leaves its boundaries.

Her foot’s proximity to the edge imparts to the whole image a certain instability and discomfort. This is exacerbated by the way her foot is stretching towards the edge – almost as if she were trying to stand upon it on tip-toes.

Dodgson would probably have been aware of this when he was composing the image on the ground glass – but something led him to make this particular choice. I suspect that he wanted the carpet at her foot to be as inconspicuous as possible.

However, having pointed out this flaw, I am very much in agreement with John Ruskin (who was also a friend and admirer of Alice Liddell) when he writes:

“[N]o good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art. . . . no great man ever stops working till he has reached his point of failure: that is to say, his mind is always far in advance of his powers of execution.”
from ‘The Stones of Venice’ (1853)

I believe that, whilst we like our friends for their virtues and strengths, we love them for their flaws and weaknesses; these are what ignite our care and compassion and what make a person interesting. Our weaknesses, not our strengths, create our need for one another.

Likewise with Art: the photographs of Eugene Atget and the early works of Cartier-Bresson are often messy, rough and technically flawed, but I wouldn’t swap the least of these photographs for a thousand of the perfect, but unadventurous, ones so often found in the amateur photographic press – photographs where every leaf has a dew-drop on it, every sky is stunning and every basket contains a kitten.

A closer look

Photographers who have been working on an image too intensely for too long can end up with ‘visual indigestion’ – they become over-familiar with the image and may no longer be able to see it with the ‘fresh’ eyes necessary for making intelligent choices and judgements.

Turning the image upside down or looking at it in a mirror can refresh their vision. This makes the image less legible, more abstract. Some things or relationships become noticeable which familiarity had previously rendered invisible.

Let’s see what’s revealed when we turn the image upside down.

DP209284 x

The first thing that strikes me is that the power of Alice’s gaze is neutralised.

The proximity of her foot to the edge means that she seems to be hanging, swinging even, by her toes from the top (or should that be ‘bottom’?) edge like a wonderland trapeze artist.

Next I notice how dominant is the white cloth of her beggar costume and how next to it her skin looks sensual and warm. The cloth seems to have both something of the texture of plaster and something of the hanging folds of flesh left after a liposuction – it has an aggressive, biological, almost ‘diseased’ look.

When I return the photograph to its correct orientation there remains a sense that her costume engulfs her like some alien entity in a horror film. Maybe the costume look so malevolent to me because I desire the body that it conceal…

If we look at the image in a mirror what immediately becomes more noticeable is that she now seems to be leaning away from us. This diminishes the intimacy of her pose.

DP209284 flipped

People living in cultures which use a script that reads from left to right also read photographs, paintings, sculptures, moving images etc from left to right (which may explain why people instinctively go clockwise round exhibitions). This also means that the viewer conceptually situates himself at the left hand edge of the image.

In a portrait the viewer’s attention is always first drawn to the eyes. In the case of profiles where the sitter is looking to the right our gaze has to cross the back of their head to reach the eye. Profiles which look to the right tend to give the feeling that the model has their back turned to us, is sulking, avoiding the viewer, or looking out into emptiness.

looking to the left
looking to the right


When someone leans towards the right side of an image it feels as if they are leaning away from us.

Conversely, when they are leaning towards the left side of the image, as Alice does in the Beggar Maid photograph, it feels as if they are leaning into us and so their pose feels more intimate and sensual.

Dressing up

Dodgson made many photographs of his child-friends dressed-up in a variety of costumes. It is clear that in these photographs the intention was never to create a convincing deception: in the photograph below no one was ever going to be fooled into thinking that Xie Kitchin was a real ‘chinese’ little girl. The dressing up is a clearly a performance.


Likewise with the Beggar Maid photograph. Alice is clearly not a real beggar: she is spectacularly clean, as is her beggar’s shift, her hair is glossy and tidy, her feet, undamaged as a baby’s, are so tender that they require a carpet to stand on, and her face bears no trace of the privations and humiliations of poverty.

After her face the most significant part of this photograph is Alice’s right arm.

The arm’s gesture is not sincere. She holds her right arm against her body: beggars stretch out their hands towards you in a gesture which makes it easier for you to give them money and which symbolically brings their need into your life. The outstretched hand also has a defensive element to it – it signals ‘keep your distance’.


Alice may have had to hold her arm there simply in order to keep it still for the long exposure. But the fact that her hand is held against her body rather than held out to the viewer sends out its own signals: to give her the money she ostensibly seems to be asking for we would have to come closer to her than we would do for the boy in the above photograph. This makes her gesture feel like an invitation to approach her body.

Her hand is relaxed. Tease a child by holding a sweet just out of its reach and you will see how, through its energy and tension, a hand can express desire. There is no sense that what this beggar wants is our money. The begging feels like a pretext. But a pretext for what? What is it that she really wants? Maybe the clue is in her expression…

But before we look more closely at her face let us briefly note how her legs are parted, how her left arm points towards her crotch, which is also the point where the folds of her shift congregate and are at their most complicated, and how these folds repeat the shape of her cupped hand…

Alice’s expression


Another old photographer’s trick, useful when printing a portrait in the darkroom, is to consider each half of the sitter’s face separately.

If we cover up the right-hand half we get the following:

face lh

This is the dominant side of her face: it is the one closest to the viewer, it is the best illuminated, and it takes up more of the photograph’s surface than the other side. There is something masculine here, it could almost be a boy’s face; there is a certain hardness, brutality even (remember those down-trodden nasturtiums?); and am I deluding myself in seeing a little ‘resentment’ too?

Now let’s cover up the left-hand side of her face:

face rh

This side is much more feminine and child-like. The eye, maybe because it is more shaded, is held wide open and reveals more of the iris than her other eye, giving it a look of excitement and curiosity. The lips look sensuous and welcoming.

This duality between the two sides of her face maybe explain why Alice’s gaze in this photograph seems to shimmer tantalisingly between invitation and refusal, never quite seeming to resolve.

How did Dodgson feel about this photograph?

To what extent did Dodgson intend this photograph’s effect?

Dodgson ‘destroyed’ any exposures he wasn’t happy with by chemically removing the collodion emulsion from its glass support. He would then reuse the glass (which was expensive) for another exposure.

The fact that he kept this negative and printed it shows that it pleased him (two prints are known to exist).

Would Dodgson have had the conceptual vocabulary necessary for recognising that something special had happened in this photograph? Possibly not: the idea that our secret thoughts and desires could be revealed through signs, symbols and slips came into intellectual currency later with Freud.

Photographers sometimes achieve more than they deserve. Whilst no symphony or novel has ever been created by accident – many good photographs have. Photographers know that they are engaged in a kind of dance with, and against, the chaos of Time and Reality, a dance in which luck and serendipity play a major role.

A photograph will always show a lot more than a photographer was aware of at the time of exposure – usually this detracts from the intended effect (e.g. a pile of dog shit visible in an out-door fashion shoot) but sometimes the photographer ends up with more than they could have imagined or wished for.

Indeed it sometimes happens that a photograph communicates something that is beyond the photographer’s powers of appreciation.

Sometimes the photographer has a moment of intuition when, maybe being in a preternaturally alert and sensitive state, he perceives something which his mind is not quite up to formulating.

If he manages to capture this intuition on film he may – when inspecting the contact sheet in the comfort of his darkroom, several days later maybe – no longer recall that moment of intuition well enough to recognise its traces in the photograph.

The photograph may languish in his archives for years, decades (or, as is unfortunately likely, for ever) until his understanding has caught up to the moment of insight captured in the photograph, and on revisiting that photograph it blossoms into its full meaning before his eyes and he wonders how he could have ever overlooked such a special photograph.

Could it be that Dodgson never really understood this photograph? Did his rational, evaluating mind never ‘catch up’ to the moment of intuition that it seems to capture?

Or is it ourselves, living in a culture with very different ideas about childhood to those Dodgson would have held, who are misreading this photograph? Is it only recently, with paedo-hysteria, that it has become such a fraught and powerful image?


Art raises more questions than it answers.

So, with this in mind, I thought I might finish by listing those questions whose intractability (combined with the guillotine-like constraints of word-count) has obliged me to leave them un-addressed…

– What happened to create that gaze? It seems to occur in another of his photographs of Alice Liddell, though here it is not quite as intense.


– Did she change into her beggar costume in front of Dodgson? What was she wearing (if anything) beneath it? Did he adjust her costume? Did this create an erotic spark between them that made it onto the negative?

– Would Alice have been aware of the Tennyson poem that this photograph illustrates? Would she have noticed the compliment that Dodgson was paying her beauty by using this poem?

– How familiar was Dodgson with the behaviour of beggar girls and/or the existence of child prostitutes? Dodgson was notoriously averse to working class little girls (note that ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon controversy occurred in 1885, long after this photograph was taken).

– What is the critical history of this photograph? How has this photograph been received and perceived since it was made?

38 thoughts on “On Alice’s Birthday – The ‘Beggar Maid’ Photograph

      1. I forgot to thank you for that, Melorder Fallaburr. It’s a fascinating exercise, and focuses in on those details where the subtlety of a photograph lies. As you say, there can be no doubt that these are two different photographs – plus the position of Lorina’s right hand is different in the two photographs. The person disputing your assertion must have cloth eyes. I think your presentation wins you games, set and match.


  1. Interesting analysis. Considering the keen focus on Alice’s right foot, I have to wonder if you’re aware that it’s a cropped version of Dodgson’s photo you’re using. That does seem to be the most popular on the internet, but look at the version that hasn’t been cropped: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/87/c3/17/87c317a46cf5237b143c19a5f94abb1b.jpg or here: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/87/c3/17/87c317a46cf5237b143c19a5f94abb1b.jpg

    In the uncropped version, Alice’s foot has a bit of wiggle room beneath it. It’s not much, but to my eye, it makes a world of difference. In fact, that’s what sent me on my initial search, months ago, when I was reading Simon Winchester’s The Alice Behind Wonderland. Loved the book, but was very disappointed in the lack of photos. If I recall correctly, even the photo at the heart of the book is only shown on the dust jacket.

    So, I wanted a better look at Dodgson’s photograph of Alice as the Beggar Maid. The version on the dust cover is also slightly cropped, but my image search turned up mostly copies of the more severely cropped version you’ve used here, The one where a few of her toes just barely escape amputation.

    I didn’t like the cramped feel this gave the composition. So, I kept searching, and was rewarded with not just a higher res image of the dust cover photo, but one that reveals a lot more wiggle room beneath Alice’s right foot. It’s not much, but the extra bit of rug between the foot and the border of the photo, to my eye, makes a world of difference.


    1. thanks for that Sarah. Yes, I agree – that extra room in the image you link to makes the base of the photograph more comfortable – when composing or cropping a photograph the tiniest variations can make a great deal of difference to the overall effect. I’d love to see one of the original prints – or the negative (does it still exist?).

      BTW – I recently bought a second hand book called “The Real Alice’ by Anne Clark. It’s a biography of Alice Liddell, with a lot of photos. I haven’t got round to reading it yet, but I’ve browsed the photos. The reproductions aren’t very good quality, but one photo really stopped me in my tracks – what appears to be another photograph from the ‘beggar maid’ session with Alice wearing the beggars rags – with the background much darker and Alice holding a different pose. The dark background is puzzling – was it taken in a different location? was the background ‘blacked out’ – I’m not sure how possible it would be to ‘burn in’ a background when working with plates and using daylight printing paper. The photo raises so many questions.



      1. Here is my secret attempt at merging almost all online versions of the famousest beggar maid photograph: http://img1.imagilive.com/0217/merge.jpg The shades of grey were simply unmatchable between the different variations. (Also, I will kick Matt Mullenweg in the arse if the image gets embedded here.)

        The second (or rather first) beggar maid photograph is also seems to be super-dark in other reproductions too (second image):

        Maybe you should consult with Mr. Wakeling (even though I don’t know if he likes, um, “specially labeled” people).


        1. thanks for that Melorder, your composite is a fascinating exercise – how many separate images does it contain?

          the link to the first beggar maid photo gives a much better quality version of the one in my book. Thank for that! The page has many interesting photos of Alice – she has one of those faces that seems to belong to a different person in each image. I’m also intrigued to see that there is a ‘catalogue raisonné’ of his photographs – though I dare say that it will be beyond my meager budget.

          (re your unpublished comment – I’ve got into a bad habit – I need to address the issue in question)


  2. Hi, I recently found a photograph of a carved door, with a very interesting description:
    “This door was carved by Alice Liddell, of Alice in Wonderland fame, when she was a grown-up.”
    To be honest, I wasn’t aware that she did anything artistic by herself.

    On the other hand, Sarah Acland’s early experiments with colour photography are super interesting (but you probably already familiar with it):


    1. Thanks Melorder. Alice must have been a very accomplished artist and craftswoman to have carved that panel – but Victorian children routinely seemed to achieve levels of technical excellence that few adults manage today. I’ve found a reference to the door in an article in the New York times – it says that “Tradition holds that Alice” carved it – so there is a little room for doubt; but I’d like to think she did.

      Sarah Acland’s photographs are new to me. I like the first photo of her as a little girl (which CLD took). The ” “Sanger Shepherd process” for colour photography must have been very complicated and fiddly to make work – but the results are beautiful.


    1. thanks you for that, Melorder Fallaburr.

      She’s only on the video for 14 seconds but it really is an extraordinarily poignant experience to see Alice, the same Alice as in the photo, living, breathing, smiling, blinking. It’s strange but seeing that makes me feel as if she’s taken a step into the reality of the present day.


  3. I love this. I can see what you mean when you say there should be departments of Paedo Studies at universities.

    The copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (I always liked the latter better) that I had and cherished as a child included an introduction that mentioned the last photo you include, the one of the three sisters. Hopeless nerd as I was even then, I read the introduction carefully several times. The writer says something like: you can see why Carroll was so drawn to Alice: look how relaxed and at ease she is in this picture, as compared to her sisters. It also mentioned that Carroll took along a pocketful of safety-pins when he went to the seaside so he could give them to little girls to pin up their frocks with. I quite liked that idea.


  4. … But which is the real orientation of the photos?
    You call this the flipped:

    but compared to the others, that actually seems to be the right one:

    BTW, do you know that if the footage Mrs. Hargreaves being interviewed in New York, shown in The Secret World of Lewis Carroll, is viewable somewhere in its entirety? Or was that all and there’s no more?


    1. >”… But which is the real orientation of the photos?
      You call this the flipped:”

      I don’t think I actually describe the image in question as ‘flipped’ in the essay. As you point out, the correct orientation of that image is with Alice facing to (our) right. But I appreciate that the natural assumption would be that I’d place the correct image first and the flipped on next – and in not doing so I have given the wrong impression. Apologies.

      But your question does raise an interesting point (well, interesting to me anyway…):

      A contemporary photographer is pretty much free in being able to choose which way round he prints an image – if working on a digital image he can just click ‘flip image horizontally’, if working with an acetate-based negative and/or an enlarger the thinness of the acetate means he can print the image with the negative upside down.

      However the Victorian photographer could not do this. The Victorian photographer was constrained to print the negative ‘the right way round’.

      The negative consisted of a glass which supported the emulsion which held the negative image. This glass support would have been about 1.5mm thick. Nearly all photographic prints in Victorian times were made by the ‘contact process’ where the negative was laid down in contact with the photographic paper and exposed to sunlight and left until an image had formed on the paper. The negative would have to be lain down so that the emulsion was in contact with the paper. If it was done otherwise, with the glass against the paper and the emulsion on top, that 1.5mm of glass between the photographic paper and the emulsion (which, remember, holds the negative image) would result in a significantly blurred image – the light, after it had passed through the emulsion, behaving ‘chaotically’ before it reaches the paper and giving a blurred image.

      So this means that Dodgson didn’t really have a choice as to whether he ‘flipped’ his images or not.

      This would apply to an amateur photographer like Dodgson – but a professional might have had some kind of enlarger. Using an enlarger would have allowed ‘flipping’ of images – I think that much of the work of Rejlander (a photographer whom Dodgson knew and was photographed by) often looks like it must have been printed using some kind of enlarger.


      You’ll notice also on the image ( https://consentinghumans.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/flipped.jpg )the reversed number ‘355’ in the top right hand corner. This was part of Dodgson’s filing system. This number would have been scratched the right way round into the emulsion – but because the negative was printed with the emulsion side against the photographic paper it comes out ‘flipped’.

      So the question is, and I think that this is the question you’re asking, why did Dodgson choose to have Alice facing to the right, when the feel is that of distance and alienation?

      Well, often he would have had no choice – I think the photo in question was taken in the same place as the Beggar Maid photo – though the background is too blurred to be absolutely certain – but if it is that means that there is a tall wall on the left the image which, if Alice had been sat facing the other way, would have placed her face in the shade – a no-no for Victorian photographers who were always struggling with the constraints of light and insensitive emulsions.

      It’s also not ‘wrong’ to have a person facing to the right. There are no rules in art or photography, only ‘laws’ – ‘laws’ state that ‘if you do x the result will be y’ – they do not say that ‘y’ is a good thing to happen or a bad one. But ‘laws’ are too often turned into ‘rules’ by photo-clubs, schools, amateur photography magazines, who too often assume that that an image should be happy, pleasing, reassuring, balanced and easy-on-the-eye.

      I also think in the 18th century and early 19th century painters seemed to have their sitters facing either to the right roughly as often to the left


      – which makes me wonder whether mass literacy (and therefore the reflex of reading from left to right) has made us more sensitive to the orientation of images.

      >”BTW, do you know that if the footage Mrs. Hargreaves being interviewed in New York, shown in The Secret World of Lewis Carroll, is viewable somewhere in its entirety? Or was that all and there’s no more?”

      Sorry, I can’t help you there – but if you do find such footage I’d be grateful if you let me know about it – it would be fascinating to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Quote mine host, “Thanks for alerting me to Edward Sellon, Sexentric – I’ll see if there’s an e-book version of ‘The New Epicurean’ – it’s not the kind of book that I’d be comfortable having visible on my bookshelves…”

    Polite asks:

    1) WAY back Swingin 60s/SeXy 70s Learned Lefty proud paraphile SeXentric had Vlad’s classique “Lolita”, Hamilton’s “Dreams Of Young Girls”, Seddon’s “New Epicurean” & many other pro-ped pronouncements rabid Right UP there shelfside wi’ Chi-town Uni’s 24 Vol “EncycloPAEDia Brittanica”. So why would mine heavy host hide such worthy works from dumb antis all the more needing just a lil enlightenment ?

    2) Wot happened to SeXentric’s pro-Ovenden post pleeze?

    Quote SuperPed Presley, “Thang U verrr murrrch.”


  6. Continue the theme, ‘Alice In Our Rear Vu Looking Glass’?

    Is owt now known on the welfare of one of Alice’s Greatest Fans, GreatLoliPainterPed & Alice author Graham Ovenden, Barley Splat/’Seed Splash’ et al?

    Foully Brit Fascist Market stitched-up into HMP Prison State UK. Yet another True Brit VICTIM of post-SeXy 70s UK anti social MadHagMag/MediaMonstaMurdoch’s Mammonite AngloVILE Holocaust (sans Gas Ovens – thus far?)

    All for rabid Right/wrong uns’ Careers/Ratings/Profit, and all deviously masked by Mass Deception – as so called ‘Public & Child Protection’. An all Fascist Phoney Anglophone ‘psycho-lonial’ World KidSeX Panic yet still largely failed beyond the small minority/BIG GOB MEDIA Fascist Phoney Anglophone!
    Quote, Der lil Fascist Fuhrer’s BIG Media MONSTA GOB lil Goebbels’ dictum/DICKED ’em? “Said LOUD and often – ANYTHING will be believed!”

    SeXy 70s SeXentric knew well an Ovenden Pen&PedPal. A YankPed, Globe trotting sales exec o’ BIG Corp-spivs makin’ milk cartons ya’ll cain’t ever open wiv out squirtin’ it like a BIG mans’ milk premature Loli-tease all down Ur pants. ‘Trousers’ if yall’s still BLACK HOLED UP in Backward Bullshit Blighty – Buzzards Over Brown Cliffs of Dover Wake Up Smell The…ya’ll know the rest.

    Anyhow, one time real cool YankPed Boeing Boeing’d in to Lunnen Thief-row (MILLIONS lost thru bent-H.M. Customs & Security!) and one o’ SeXentric’s many Ped&Adultophile pals ‘phoned to say (parrotphrased), “Call YankPed at his posh Park Lane West One BIG hotel.”

    Receptionist, “Just putting U thru..”

    YankPed, “Hi! Yes this is he. Who’s calling please?”

    Stern SeXentric, “This is Scotland Yard!”

    YankPed, “How ya doin’ SCOTLAND ole buddy?! And how’s Mrs Yard & all them lil Yard kids?”

    Soon invited (wi’ a ‘Pretty Baby’/Brooke Shields-clone Loli & Mum) to munch ohn BIG deal brunch in a posh Park Lane hotel. The meal and visit was all social not seXual (SeXentric NEVER hawked Lolis to ANYONE – unless CONSENTING Loli proactively whispered, “I LIKE him!” Tho some Lolis hawked SeXentric to other Lolis!!)

    While Loli & Mum hit the Lil Gels’ room, YankPed quietly told SeXentric of his special invite to Barley Splat where Graham opened his desk drawer and gave him some personal Loli-sketches as they chatted in his studio. Until cheekily interrupted by an impish 8 y.o. mousey-haired skinny pretty lil Loli in soft denim dungarees soooo damned tite that the two HOT Peds couldn’t hardly breathe!!! Then as the Loli, er, lolled, grinned, and ‘GROOMED’ all over bushy bearded Graham he said, (parrotphrased) “Excuse us, but unfinished tickling business calls – I’ll be back in a flash!” And with that he scooped up Loli who seemed to deliberately assume a high back-arched pudenda-pouting pose (now camel-toe for trendies) to YankPed while facing forward on Graham’s shoulder and they disappeared for some minutes of unseen riotous giggling, grunting, and delightful squealing in a bedroom as the Loli had her wicked way with over-groomed Graham Ovenden.

    Another SeXentric Late Great bi-PedPal/AC-DC an Anglo arty bearded classical pianist, photographer, audio-engineer, and church organist/juv choristers et al (ya’ll know the lil/BIG stereotype) whom hawkeyes-SeXentric talent spotted and cheekily chatted up while both Loli-snapping at a sunny seaside carnival, also met Ovenden at a book signing. Where Graham personally monickered his “Aspects Of Lolita’ and maybe “The Illustrators Of Alice”. Ex-HM Prison State Bi-PedPal died c.2010 age c.70 after 15 happy years in democratic Dutch exile finally FREE from Anglo Fascist Oppression.

    Once on late-19Hateys TV-‘After Dark’ (some darkest-hours for unstreetwize kind SuperPed H-TOC) our take-no-crap Graham LAZERED the assembled sad sucka ineffectual intellectuals with, (parrotphrased), “Thru our dire mainstream media (my brackets, not least BritBrainCrap & C4$kin) the great British public knows less about paedophilia – than a camel’s fart!”

    Among SeXentric’s few BIG failures thus far. Is that he missed same-age Graham Ovenden Loli-snapping on SeXentric’s home ground east London in Swingin 62. While speedy lil SeXentric, 19, soared like Spurs’ cocky Welsh wizard lil Cliff Jones or Man U’s lithe Scots salmon Denis Law, to power nod yet another glorious goal against the BIGGEST dumb centre backs – ‘centre halves’ in them far off Happy Nappy Daze!




  7. Sho nuff MILLIONS including Adultophiles (havin’ bin here) now gonna buy Late Great SuperPed Seddon?!

    As fer Plath’s suicide (her son also died from the ‘Black Dog’) wrong blamed on Hughes by craZed Anglo femiNazi desecraters always seeking scapegoats for their own self-styled victim status and forced failures – as ever in larger fascist phoney Anglophonia. Correction please if ‘appropriate’ (PC/Pure Cowards’ keyword) but so far no one’s trashed sensitive Chas for elevating adultophile Alice to alltime icon of “FemiPower”. Always burningly intelligent, standing up, talking back, taking no crap off no kinda creep! Not least BIG Queen Vic’s naZty alter ego the heartless Queen Of Hearts & Co, “You’re just a pack of cards!”

    Now THAT’S a-tellin ’em Chas & Al…

    RealMeanwhile, Recalling a personally remote sylvan idyll/country cottage and large grounds trashed in Y2K by naZty UK Fascist bent Brit cops/AngloVILE Gestapo in this era’s endless afterquake of rabid Right/wrong uns, anti social Mammonite Mad Dog Murdoch/Mad Hag Mag’s Anglo Holocaust (sans gas ovens – thus far?) Two decades back in Nawty ’97 SeXentric rented his remote (from London) idyll thru a local agent, unwittingly and nicely coincidentally to a Loli-blessed family. A beautiful bright brunette lil 7 y.o. Loli not unlike Alice with a lovely Mum, both sadly mentally-emotionally aBused by the so called ‘Man’ of the house, a BIG bald blusterer (later found to be an ex-con conman/likely CONman-Tory not long out of HMP Norwich) who trailed them from temporary home to temporary home by NEVER paying rent for months and having to flee or be evicted! Not to digress, but as Loli-magnets (SeXentric AND the cottage) what most aMused the Loli (who hastily left behind a heartbreaking card which she had penned to her dad, “Daddy, Thank U for finding us such a lovely cottage”) was the centre-holed circular swing-seat safely held by a BIG THICK rope hanging from the huge tree after which the Cott was/is named. SeXentric on first meeting BIG Bad Baldy with a firm handshake, he blurted, “I’m a BIG guy aren’t I? We’re gonna get along fine.” To which this lil Duck quacked back, “We will if the rent gets paid!” BIG baldy then unwittingly delivered his knockout line, “My little girl LOVES your rope swing – I can’t get her off it!”

    Mo’ soon-er or later….


  8. Some afterthoughts bro.

    1) Is the site of ‘The Beggar Maid’ pic known, so that it may be made into a ‘Blue Plaque’ shrine?

    2) Was Chas’ subconscious or conscious motive for re-dressing (personally ‘Mmmm…’) Alice as a beggar in-rags, perhaps so that he and other healthily lusty viewers might imagine what the poor pretty damsel might do for a good meal or much money? (Rephrase ye olde* Tory cad’s adage, “Find ’em, feed ’em, feel ’em, fuck ’em, forget ’em? NEVER forget ’em!”)

    Modestly awaiting im-moderation?

    *Another fine Victorian SuperPed, Edward Sellon, springs to mind, with his 1865, “The New Epicurean – The Delights of Sex, Facetiously and Philosophically Considered, in Graphic Letters Addressed to Young Ladies of Quality” In which he graphically describes acquiring local preteen little pretties brought by coach-and-4 to his remote sprawling country mansion with Capability Brown-esque landscaped vast green estate, where the always willing, slender young sperm-extractors bathe naked, giggling and squealing in the lily pond before he feeds ’em up, and then fills ’em up by having his full way with the ‘fucktious’ beauties in his luxurious 4-postered bedroom.

    Once more tuff work – but SOMEONE had to do it? (Oh, gawd I’ve cum agin…Mop me up with Ur scanty pretty panties please Alice.)



    1. >”1) Is the site of ‘The Beggar Maid’ pic known, so that it may be made into a ‘Blue Plaque’ shrine?”

      The photo was made in the Garden of the Deanery of Christ Church College, Oxford – where Alice and her family (her father was the Dean) lived. A blue plaque would be nice – but I wonder if it would attract the destructive attentions of haters – much as the tomb of Ted Hughes and Silvia Plath did (and maybe still do).


      here’s a map which includes the Deanery and its garden (in the top left quarter) – it’s fascinating to speculate just where the photo was taken. I’d love to see a contemporary photo of that actual corner! I wonder if nasturtiums still grow there…

      >”2) Was Chas’ subconscious or conscious motive for re-dressing (personally ‘Mmmm…’) Alice as a beggar in-rags, perhaps so that he and other healthily lusty viewers might imagine what the poor pretty damsel might do for a good meal or much money? (Rephrase ye olde* Tory cad’s adage, “Find ’em, feed ’em, feel ’em, fuck ’em, forget ’em? NEVER forget ’em!”)

      That’s the big question – my experience is that a a huge amount of your subconscious fears, desires and preoccupations leak out into what you photograph – especially when that photograph works powerfully. I suspect that the emotions we feel when looking at it were somewhere present in Dodgson.

      Thanks for alerting me to Edward Sellon, Sexentric – I’ll see if there’s an e-book version of ‘The New Epicurean’ – it’s not the kind of book that I’d be comfortable having visible on my bookshelves…

      (yes, there is a kindle version – and I see that on Amazon it gets a one star review supported with the words ‘PEDOPHILIA PORNOGRAPHY’ – a five star recommendation as far as I’m concerned!)


  9. Wow jonno!

    NOT ‘Awaiting Moderation’?

    RealMeanwhile, err-ection, detection correction, and apologies to fine 1873 U.S Grant-ian composers Higley & Kelly, “…and skies are not cloudy ALL DAY.”

    BIG Bonus, Spring 1873 U.S.(USeless,) Facts:

    April 1 – The Coinage Act of 1873 comes into force, ending bimetallism in the U.S. and placing the nation firmly on the gold standard.
    April 15–17 – Indian Wars: The Second Battle of the Stronghold is fought.
    May – Henry Rose exhibits barbed wire at an Illinois county fair, which is taken up by Joseph Glidden and Jacob Haish, who invent a machine to mass-produce it.
    May 20 – Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received United States patent#139121 for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the famous Levi’s brand of jeans, using fabric from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire.
    May 23 – The Preakness Stakes horse race first runs in Baltimore, Maryland.
    June 4 – Indian Wars: The Modoc War ends with the capture of Captain Jack.


  10. A fine and lovingly detailed analy-sis bro. Tho some factors, personal perspectives, angles, etc, may be overstated or overlooked by assumptions of which no one (nicely nuanced nonce or no) can now be sure.

    This ex-London EastEnder (Rockin ‘50s ongoing paraphile, serious birding-BTO/RSPB, tri-bi/cycling, YMCA footie medals, ama-tour/semi-pro photographer/processor, full time/part-time/self-employed mainframe BIG Blue oppo, Rock n Roll pro-researcher, real lawng backtale) in SeXy ’70s Westminster Ref Lib, Buck Palace Rd, SWI. Eezy found a volume of Dodgson’s “NUDE Child Photos”, Long since ANTI SOCIAL 19Hateys neo-Victorian/Anglo mock-Puritan deep archived CENSORED in a so called ‘Free Democracy’ – WTF?!

    While today’s blind beliefs that so called ‘Adult’ infantilized lowbrow Murdochized dumbed down neo-Victorian vile views on scantily clad aMused kids now in so called ‘Child Abuse Pix’, would faize Dodgson’s vile Victorians seX-craZed on persecuting Gay victims Wilde & Co – are false!

    Mine host rightly notes that when Fine Victorian SuperPed Rev Kilvert was found publicly in GROSS flagrante wiv a nude Loli, all he got from a shocked passer-by, still en passant, was, “Bounder, cad!!”

    Not, “Call a fuckin’ Lynch Mob!”

    Hypocrite Brits HANGED Gays until 1830! And, until our current Lords Snooty & Pals CamerCon&Co’s very recent NINETEEN Hateys, elite Brit boyz from age 8 were FORMALLY aBused-not-aMused far from home by homoerotic trix to please their elders at Harrow, Eton, et al. Paraphrase SeXy 70s Sneering Lord Snooty, “Our historic, firm fagging is GOOD character-forming NOT aBuse old chum. No harm done just SeXy firm-bum-fun. Now where’s that peachy Cameron – BOY?!!!!!!”

    While, as late as the late-SeXy 70s, many Free Range Brit field-work Peds ffffound, ffffed, fffelt & fffreely ffffphotographed Free Range kids in many ways & poses including knicker-flash handstands & sit-downs, “Now lean back knees up, get your shoes in the pic.” Sans or with parental nods, and in full unconcerned public gaze, publicly favouring frenziedly flogging and persecuting adult GAYS, not kid-lovin Peds. The ‘P’word not even dumb down mainstream-ed until 19HateyOne when the mail-icious matriarch fascist Daily Heil un-learnedly printed ‘Prendophrine’ – fer fux sake!

    Tho, pre-19Hateys SeXplicit kid pix & flix were clearly clandestine clicked with keen kids’ CONSENT SeXy Popstar/Page-3 style et al, and how – WOW!! (BIG Thanx to BIG Hypocrite rabid Right/wrong un Rupe). But, as ever c. 90% of Ped kid pix & flix were NOT Field Work/Free Range but WAY down home Domestic. While a few rare real keen Peds (some, SeXentric’s PedPals natch) were equally at home, er – ‘At Home’ OR ‘Free Range’!

    Cue Rockin ‘50s fleapit-kid flix BIG Fave Country Cowboy Gene Autry, “Home, Home Ohn The Range…where seldom iz heard a discouraging word, and skies are not cloudy or grey…”

    BIG Bonus, 1873 O-riginal lyrical licks:

    Close, fer now, wi’ ‘nother true tale of the PRO SOCIAL (cept fo’ VICTIM Gays) pre-19Hateys UK.
    This one (of a rare public spat) from master psychologist/self-employed van-man, tyre-fitter SeXpert Scouse Photographer/Processor/CinePhotographer/MiniCassette SoundMan HyperPed, the Late Great T. W. (b. Liddypool 1916, d. Brighton c.2008). Stood up, talked back, took no crap of no kinda creep. Who, among his many Ped pearls coined the gem ‘Kind’ used by his many lovin Lolis describing good Peds (is there another type?) a full 4-decades before kind SuperPed H-TOC.

    Pre-WW2 HyperPed T.W. Rockin 50s/Swingin 60s/SeXy 70s much loved family man Dad to 2 x blonde Lolis, while self-processing b/w 6×6, 35mm, KodaChrome-processed Box 14 Hemel Hempstead color Std8/Super8/Super8Sound, Ferrania Wimbledon processed 16mm cine color, self-processed Kodak CN17 color stills, collected Ped Memorabilia et al. His and others’ whole half-century Ped BIG Arc (biggest ever non-Web Ped haul in Brit History) since Y2K in proactive phone-tap BIG bent Brit PedCops’ BIG Arc! Re-quote SeXy 70s TV straight Brit SuperCop/SuperPed D.I. Regan:

    “Whoever invented the gymslip should get a bloody medal!”

    The Late Great True Brit T. W. HyperPed photographer/processor/cine-photographer/sound-man VERY sound man soldier ex-‘Desert Rat’ Military Medal in elite Ped/Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of El Alamein’s 8th Army. Monty’s 10ft proud Ped statue now stands for Freedom from Fascist Oppression opposite Downing St by The Cenotaph. Due fer Saddam-type ritual bent Brit Totalitarian Tabloid TV Fascist trashing when they read this?!!!!

    So here it is, all round, all-year round Field-Work/Free-Range/Domestic HyperPed T.W. Swingin 60s clicking b/w waist-level 6×6 Rollei in an east London suburban park a Free-Range tree-climbin’ miniskirt leggy lone Loli.

    Unknowingly close viewed by a background naZty predatory neo-Victorian vulture, East End BIG battle-axe, (parottphrased):

    “I’ve bin watchin’ U photographing dat little gel, iz she Ur’s?!”

    “No missus, but I’m makin’ sure she doesn’t fall..”

    “Yes, but U’ve bin photographing looking up at her and asking her to climb higher in that tree?”

    “Yes, she’s safe with me while she gets her confidence. The best thing for kids – self-confidence.”

    “But Ur ONLY photographing her, looking RIGHT UP at her…”

    “Oh! Now I know wot Ur saying!! U’ve go a DIRTY FILTHY mind!!! I feel sorry for U. U need HELP! Now clear off before I report U to the police – U naZty nosey frustrated old witch!”

    And with that the abrasive old bat left in a daze, followed by master psychologist HyperPed T.W. with smiling adultophile ‘Stranger Loli’ heading home safe in time for tea. Among millions more Free Range Rockin 50s/Swingin 60s/SeXy 70s UK kids nationwide then as now 90% familiarly aMused-not-aBused mostly with those they know well. Not with a minority 10% ‘No Danger Strangers’.




  11. Hello, this is Explorer – the guy who have been posting on Tom O’Carroll’s blog for some time. Now I’m here as well… 🙂

    A remarkable analysis, Leonard. Do you have some background in humanities – art studies, cultural studies and other scholarly stuff? If you don’t, then – you again prove that a dedicated enthusiast can do better than a formal “expert”. Really.

    This photo of Alice Liddel sometimes makes me wonder: what were the risks involved in making it? A social risks, to be precise, and ones for Charles Dodgson, exactly. The problem is, while Alice’s clothing and overall appearance looks quite innocent nowadays, during Victorian times it looks indecent to the extreme. If the legal concept of “child pornography” had been in existence in 19th century, Dodgson would have faced a big trouble in a case the knowledge about his photo-sessions with Alice became public.

    And there is a fact about which I’m quite certain: nowadays, if some photographer tries to make a few photos of a girl of Alice’s age, in a garments an in a positions similar to the ones of Dodgeson’s works, he will very likely face a “kiddy porn” accusation. In a world there a painting of a fully clothed child in a neutral, entirely non-erotic postion and situation may be easily lableled a “child porn” by imaginative prosecutors, Dodgson-style artistic photography is a severe risk…


    1. Hello Explorer – welcome to my blog! I’ve very much appreciated and admired your contributions to HereticTOC.

      >”A remarkable analysis, Leonard. Do you have some background in humanities – art studies, cultural studies and other scholarly stuff? If you don’t, then – you again prove that a dedicated enthusiast can do better than a formal “expert”. Really.”

      Thanks, Explorer – I’ve done a fair bit of studying, teaching and creating – and I think those things I’ve done have worked best when I’ve applied a slow, patient, meticulous, attention to detail to the more spontaneous fruits of my imagination, invention and intuition. I think being a life-long ‘culture-vulture’ has helped.

      But really my biggest motivator is my own ignorance – and a kind of exhilaration: the positive understanding of paedophilia feels like such a young discipline: everything is up for thought and for questioning, and ‘amateurs’ can sometimes feel like they’re breaking new intellectual ground.

      Jean Paul Sartre, writing about the occupation of France, said ” “Never were we freer than under the German occupation. We had lost all our rights, and first of all our right to speak. They insulted us to our faces. … They deported us en masse. … And because of all this we were free.”

      I think I understand what he may have meant: by refusing to accept the orthodoxy, by refusing to buy into one’s oppression, by exercising our capacity to think thoughts and feel feelings which have been forbidden by the and the law, and by using those thoughts and feelings to critique the status quo and the powers that are oppressing us, we are acting as free agents, living what little ‘freedom’ we are allowed as fully as possible.

      This is something that someone who is in step with the hegemony never can do and will never feel. To resist is to be free.

      >”This photo of Alice Liddel sometimes makes me wonder: what were the risks involved in making it? A social risks, to be precise, and ones for Charles Dodgson, exactly. The problem is, while Alice’s clothing and overall appearance looks quite innocent nowadays, during Victorian times it looks indecent to the extreme. If the legal concept of “child pornography” had been in existence in 19th century, Dodgson would have faced a big trouble in a case the knowledge about his photo-sessions with Alice became public.”

      This is an interesting question. I’m pretty sure though that Alice’s clothing will have looked a lot more innocent to Victorians than it does to us today.

      In a sense our own times represent a kind of nadir in the paranoid sexualisation of children – a photograph of naked child is nowadays seen as more obscene than any photograph of cruelty, crime and suffering (how is it that it is illegal to look at a photograph of a naked child but not of ‘gore’ or the productions of Daesh?). Think how images of children deemed as ‘sexual’ are the only images that are illegal to see, even if they are cartoons.

      Dodgson did quite a lot of nude photography of little girls and was quite unashamed about it, though he treated the whole subject with his customary caution and delicacy.

      He seemed to have few qualms about asking those parents if he could photograph their daughters nude if he thought the parents might be willing to give permission (I like to imagine that he’d have discussed it with the child first). When he did make such a request he would cloak his request in a narrative of innocence – and it seems that a lot of parents consented.

      However most of his nude photographs were destroyed either by himself or by his executors (I can’t remember which) – those prints that have survived (I think there are only four which can be definitely attributed to Dodgson) have been spoilt by having been coloured in – which has reduced their immediacy and power as nudes and removed a lot of the fine detail which gives to a photograph the sense that one is glimpsing reality through a frame – maybe this is why they were coloured in – to soften their power.

      But what wouldn’t I give to have been a fly on the wall during that Beggar Maid photo shoot!


  12. Lovely analysis. But what you missed in talking about the leg going to the edge of the photograph is the egg shaped structural (implied) line, from the other knee, down the leg, following the toes and the leaf, then around the extended leg’s toes, then back up, following the nasturtium leaves to the ledge in the wall. In doing this, the structure encapsulates what seems as though it should lead out of the image, and holds out attention toward the middle—indeed, the toes touching the very edge emphasise this shape nicely. (Also, the triangle created by he step and wall open back, onto the figure, and upward, to the groin, where the folds of the drapery echo and sharpen the egg shape.) The cupped hand repeats this structure (with variation, of course), as do the two arms, the neckline and the jaw and chin lines. (Creating a pyramid.) Structurally, therefore, the leg is contained within the image, and the eye is withdrawn upward. Whether or not Dodgson consciously created this structure is up for debate, but in my experience, considerations such as this almost always play a strong unconscious role in the creation of a strong photograph, and the more effective they are, the more consciously they were chosen.


    1. Thanks BJM
      I see what you mean about that egg-shaped structural line.

      That the foot near the edge also seems to have the effect of Alice seeming to step out of the photograph into our own space.

      I’m starting to think that the figure of Alice is so strong and dominant, both visually and affectively, that, regardless of what the composition is doing, our eyes keep getting drawn back into the photograph.

      I’ve just noticed: her ‘begging hand’ is bang in the centre of the image. Could that have been a consideration when Dodgson was choosing how to print the negative? Depending on how much spare space there was above her head on the negative he may have been obliged to crop right up to her toes in order to keep the hand in the centre.

      Unfortunately I don’t think the negative has survived – it would be fascinating to see it – I bet there’d be loads of ‘clues’ and interesting things happening near the edges.


      1. >>I’m starting to think that the figure of Alice is so strong and dominant, both visually and affectively, that, regardless of what the composition is doing, our eyes keep getting drawn back into the photograph. <<

        Well, yes, and I think there are two reasons for this:
        [1] The composition is unusually good (for Dodgson, which suggests it was unconscious, a fluke).
        [2] She was flirting like crazy with him, before and during, and this comes through the image, as it does in several others. Then there are those photographs where she wasn't….


  13. I believe that, whilst we like our friends for their virtues and strengths, we love them for their flaws and weaknesses; these are what ignite our care and compassion and what make a person interesting.
    I think that we like qualities such as precision and exactness, which look like perfection, while we love what inspires us, makes us dream and imagine something new; but inspiration, imagination and dreams are never perfect.
    I once told a contact in a social network “the intellectual atmosphere was better 40 years ago, I miss the great film directors, writers and musicians of that time, today we have technically perfect meaningless junk.” And he replied “that’s an excellent definition…”technically perfect meaningless junk”..No soul, no spirit, no beauty no love…”


    1. >”technically perfect meaningless junk”.

      I think that a combination of post-modernism and the digitisation of photography has pretty much resulted in a profound sterility in much of contemporary photography.

      Both have moved the medium away from what defined it – its dependence on a Reality that is outside of the mind and control of the artist/photographer.

      Garry Winogrand once said something to the effect that (I can’t find the quote) Reality was infinitely more interesting than anything that he could have to say about it

      The mess and imperfection of Reality needs to be present in a photograph.


  14. That’s quite a detailed analysis of a very alluring image.
    I have another thought on the foot touching the bottom of the image.
    If it were not, the figure of Alice would seem more disembodied and distant.
    As it is, I get the impression of a flower growing out of the bottom of the image.
    A beautiful flower!


    1. Hi Jonathan.
      I agree, it is a very alluring image. Personally, I know of no image made of a child which is as intriguing, haunting and beautiful. Your image of the Alice growing out of the bottom of the image is an interesting one, and I kind of see what you mean.

      The thing about ‘flaws’ in art is that they can sometimes act like grit in the oyster and bring an enriching complexity to an image. Progress in photography has largely involved working more adventurously with the laws of photograph – the early photography was very much based on painterly composition – but some of the most interesting victorian photography was done by Julia Margaret Cameron who, in her best work, played quite fast and loose with the compositional rules of her day.


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