From 1869, Lewis Carroll’s Illustrated Birthday Letter to 7-Year-Old Friend Georgina Watson
The American Reader posted this beautifully illustrated rebus letter, in which the author explains to a seven-year-old why he had to miss her birthday party. With the rebus images translated into words, here’s what he came up with:
The cat met me, and took me for a mouse, and hunted me up and down till I could hardly stand. However somehow I got into the house, and there a mouse met me, and took me for a cat, and pelted me with fire-irons, crockery, and bottles. Of course I ran into the street again, and a horse met me and took me for a cart, and dragged me all the way to the Guildhall, but the worst of all was when a cart met me and took me for a horse. I was harnessed to it, and had to draw it miles and miles, all the way to Merrow. So you see I couldn’t get to the room where you were.
Carroll often wrote cool letters, like this spiral one, or the “fairy letters” he’d write in script so small you needed a magnifying glass to read it. He kept a meticulous record of all his letters, which “recorded an astonishing 98,721 letters sent,” many of the most interesting ones to very young ladies. The meaning of Carroll’s fondness for female children is the subject of an ongoing academic debate.