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The Life & Times Of Lewis Carroll And Guildford In The Great War By Circle Eight Film Group

Published on: 16 Jun, 2015
Updated on: 21 Aug, 2015

Guildford’s award-winning film makers, Circle Eight Film Group, will be showing two films in one evening at the Electric Theatre on Wednesday, June 24, at 8pm.

They are showing their feature-length documentary The Life & Times of Lewis Carroll and Guildford in the Great War.

This will mark the 150th Anniversary of the publication Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s masterpiece Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Circle Eight’s documentary tells the story of the author’s life in Yorkshire, Oxford and Guildford and how one of the most famous children’s books in the world came to be written.

Lewis Carroll as a young man

Lewis Carroll as a young man.

Lewis Carroll – or to give him his proper name – the Revd Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – came to Guildford in 1868, three years after the publication of his famous masterpiece. He was an Oxford mathematics don and came here looking for a home for his seven unmarried sisters and their three brothers, following the death of their father at Croft in Yorkshire.

The Rev. Charles Dodgson - Lewis Carroll - who wrote Allice through the Looking Glass in Guildford

The Revd Charles Dodgson – Lewis Carroll – who wrote Allice through the Looking Glass in Guildford

It was here that Carroll wrote much of his Alice sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass, which was published in 1871.

While walking on the downs near Guildford in 1874 he was inspired to write his famous nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark. This was his personal logistical challenge because he wrote the whole work backwards, starting with the last line and composing his way forwards through all of the 141 verses.

In January 1898, Lewis Carroll died at his family’s home, The Chestnuts, in Guildford and was buried in the town’s Mount Cemetery.

Alice Liddell, aged 7, photographed by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) in 1860. She inspired the main character in Alice in Wonderland

Alice Liddell, aged 7, photographed by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) in 1860. She inspired the main character in the Alice books.

Only 65 when he died, Lewis Carroll was already one of the most famous authors in the world.

Alice in one of John Tenniel's illustrations for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice in one of John Tenniel’s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The flourishing and respected Lewis Carroll Society recently noted that Circle Eight’s Lewis Carroll documentary is the first in-depth film on the author’s life to be produced in the UK.

Also showing will be Guildford in the Great War, Circle Eight’s much acclaimed feature film that has been produced to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War.

GGWThe Circle Eight team have done a great job in making this film about an important part of Guildford’s modern history.

The film recalls how many aspects of Guildford’s everyday life changed, as the town was placed on a war footing between 1914 and 1918.  The film also recalls the 492 men from Guildford, named on the town’s war memorial, who enlisted for active service in the war to end all wars and never returned to their home town.

The film is based on a book with the same title that was published in 1934 by William Oakley, the editor of the Surrey Advertiser from 1910 until his retirement in 1933.  He decided to write a comprehensive account of everyday life in Guildford during the First World War, using cuttings from his newspaper between 1914 and 1919.

Urged on by the Earl of Onslow and other local dignitaries, William Oakley put on record the many events that occurred in the town that he had been unable to report during the war because of the official censorship that was imposed at the time.

Like many other Guildford families, William Oakley suffered great personal loss during the Great War when his eldest son Second Lieutenant Reginald Oakley was killed in the first hour of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

He had worked as a reporter on the Surrey Advertiser and had enlisted with the Queen’s Regiment the day after war was declared in August 1914.

The many wartime events and happenings remembered in the film are the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand, the care of the sick and wounded at Clandon Park and other Guildford Military Hospitals, the town’s rationing and food shortages, the influx of Belgian refugees in 1915 when their country was invaded, Guildford’s wartime industries and the Zeppelin raid on the town in 1915.

Tickets can be booked through the theatre’s box office by calling 01483 444789 or online at

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