I was listening to “Start the Week” on BBC Radio 4, presented by Andrew Marr, and dealing mainly with the anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I was not surprised that Mr Marr should pronounce Carroll’s ‘real’ surname as /ËˆdÉ’dÊ’sÉ™n/, when all the evidence points to his pronouncing it /ËˆdÉ’dsÉ™n/ – as did the late, great dialectologist John Dodgson. Most people pronounce it that way without thinking, as it is what the spelling implies. I was disappointed that the author of the latest biography of Dodgson/Carroll , Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, should follow suit. HasÂ he not spoken to members of the family? He also mispronounced the name of the place in Cheshire where Dodgson was born – Daresbury. Although this looks like /ËˆdÉ›ËzbÉ™ri/, it is actually pronounced /ËˆdÉ‘ËzbÉ™ri/. I see from his biography that Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is an Oxford academic. Perhaps he conforms to the stereotype of Oxford dons, no doubt inaccurate in most cases (but it is the exception that proves the rule) of not needing to consider anything that happens outside that city.
John Dodgson was the author of the multiple volume Place Names of Cheshire published by the English Place Name Society. He suffered all his life from those who told him how to pronounce his own name. His remains must be performing all sorts of acrobatics.