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Lewis Carroll’s
Croquet Companion

AN INTRODUCTION BY
REGINALD BAKELEY

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What introduction needs be made for Lewis Carroll, or even Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the affectionate alter ego of the man behind the nonsensical classics “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass?” Any intelligent person with half an interest in croquet or literature knows that Dodgson was a founding member of the Overland Mallet Club and a rabid puzzle and game enthusiast, writing serious essays on mathematics, politics, and sport.

This final category includes a few variations on the garden game of croquet. “Croquet Castles for Five Players” was invented in May of 1863, and was refined as a game for four players three years later for the enjoyment of Alice Liddell and her sisters Lorina and Edith during Dodgson’s appointment to Christ Church, Oxford. The girls were the daughters of the Christ Church Dean Henry George Liddell, who decreed that their play be as quiet as possible. How these young players managed to keep their voices and spirits below the level of a mild hurricane during such a riotous game is anyone’s guess, but perhaps we may attribute their (assumed) quiet demeanor to the manners and breeding of a time and place far removed from our own. Oxford players have never been the type to overmuch show their enthusiasm whilst in the thick of a good game. Both versions of Dodgson’s “Castle” game are printed here, for the scrutiny of scholars and avid players alike.

We begin this pamphlet with another, entirely cerebral version of the game, also written by Dodgson. “Arithmetical Croquet” was the result of Dodgson’s desire to have a game of croquet he could play whilst on his regular walks with his young friends. An early draft of this game was called “Numerical Croquet” and was written for his child-friend Gwendolyn Cecil. The version we print here is a revised take on the game dated April 22, 1889.

A Note on the Illustrations
The illustration on the cover of this pamphlet is by Arthur Rackham, who whilst not an OMC man is certainly held in high regard by the Club for his artistic contributions to literature. The course diagrams inside this pamphlet are the product of a lesser man, and so any concerns that arise from them should be directed to himself, yours truly,

Reginald Bakeley
President, Overland Mallet Club, Wales
ABERGAVENNY, 2 December, 2001

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