Menella Bute Smedley

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Menella Bute Smedley (1820-1877) was a novelist and poet. A relative of Lewis Carroll,[1] she wrote some minor novels and books of poems, including the anonymous, The Story of Queen Isabel, and Other Verses, 1863.

She translated the old German ballad The Shepherd of the Giant Mountains into English blank verse in 1846. Roger Lancelyn Green in the Times Literary Supplement on 1 March 1957, and later in The Lewis Carroll Handbook (1962), suggested that Carroll’s "Jabberwocky" may have been inspired by this work.[2][3] Peter Lucas suggested in particular that verses 2-6 of Jabberwocky were a loose parody.[4]

She was the daughter of the Revd Edward Smedley and lived for many years with her cousin Frank Smedley, acting as his housekeeper and secretary. She died at her home at Regent's Park, London on 25 May 1877 and was buried at West Norwood Cemetery.


  1. ^ Clark, Ann (1979). Lewis Carroll: A Biography. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. p. 65. ISBN 0-460-04302-1. 
  2. ^ Martin Gardner, The Annotated Alice. New York: Norton, 2000. p. 154, n. 42.
  3. ^ Ronald Reichertz (2000). The Making of the Alice Books: Lewis Carroll's Uses of Earlier Children's Literature. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 99. ISBN 0-7735-2081-3. 
  4. ^ Peter J. Lucas (1997). "From Jabberwocky back to Old English". In Raymond Hickey; Stanisław Puppel. Language history and linguistic modelling: a Festschrift for Jacek Fisiak on his 60th birthday. Trends in linguistics: Studies and monographs 101. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 503–520. ISBN 3-11-014504-9. 
  • John Sutherland (1990). The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford University Press. p. 589. ISBN 0-8047-1842-3.