DODGSON, Charles Lutwidge ('Lewis Carroll'). Autograph letter signed ('Charles L. Dodgson') to Princess Alice ('My dear Alice') [daughter of Leopold, Duke of Albany], 7 Lushington Road, Eastbourne, 10 August 1893, embossed image of a spider on first page, coloured in green, approximately 35mm diameter, four pages, 8vo, on a bifolium.
THE PRINCESS AND THE SPIDER. Much of the early part of the letter is taken up with a jeu d'ésprit involving the trompe l'oeil spider embossed onto the page: 'how can one attend to one's writing, you know, when a great hairy green thing is crawling all over the letter? I shouldn't mind it so much, if the thing would only keep still [here the words become entangled with and obscured by the spider]: what I dislike most is that it will crawl about all the time!'. Dodgson refers to a book he has sent ('Of course you'll be a little cross about it, just at first: and you'll say to yourself, "Oh dear, oh dear! I wish Mr Dodgson wouldn't be so tiresome! Here's another horrid book ...'), enquires as to Alice's pets, concedes that she isn't obliged to read the book, but recommends the pictures, and refers to a note for Alice's mother [Helen, Duchess of Albany] and a political-sounding game for her brother [Prince Charles Edward, Duke of Albany]: 'The two wire men are England and Ireland: and the puzzle is to make them join and un-join their hands', concluding coquettishly 'Give him my love, and take two or three crumbs of it for yourself'.
Princess Alice (1883-1981) was the daughter of Queen Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold, who matriculated from Christ Church in the 1870s, where he met Dodgson and was photographed by him. The Liddells also befriended him, inviting him to the Deanery regularly, and Alice Liddell became close to the Prince, and was often to be seen with him. Mrs Liddell harboured ambitions that they would marry; however, the Queen wanted her sons to marry royalty, and the relationship between Leopold and Alice was firmly extinguished. Leopold married Princess Helen Frederica Augusta, daughter of H.S.H. George Victor, Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont by whom he had two children, before his death in 1884. Dodgson met his widow and children at Hatfield some five years later, where he became friends with both the children and the Duchess of Albany.