She met Carroll in 1886 when she played a small part in the stage version of Alice in Wonderland with Phoebe Carlo in the title role: she replaced Carlo as Alice in the 1888 revival. She visited and stayed with him between the ages of fifteen and nineteen: Carroll described a visit in July 1888 in Isa's Visit to Oxford, which she reprinted in her memoir. Carroll introduced her to Ellen Terry, who gave her elocution lessons. Carroll dedicated his last novel Sylvie and Bruno to her in 1889: her name appears in a double acrostic poem in the introduction.
She married the journalist George Reginald Bacchus in 1899. In 1899-1900 Bacchus published a fictionalised version of her life in Society, a magazine he was editing. The publisher Leonard Smithers then commissioned a pornographic version which was published as The Confessions of Nemesis Hunt (issued in three volumes 1902, 1903, 1906).
Isa Bowman was the daughter of Charles Andrew Bowman (b. 1851), a music teacher, and Helen Herd, née Holmes. Her sisters, Empsie, Nellie (Mrs Spens) and Maggie (Mrs Tom Morton) Bowman were all actresses, and also friends of Carroll. According to Maggie's father-in-law, William Morton, the sisters were all actresses from a very early age. He said that Maggie had an amusing diary in rhyme written by Carroll about her visit to Oxford as a young child.
In popular culture
- Gyles Brandreth's play Wonderland about the relationship between Isa Bowman and Dodgson was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010.
- Moses, pp.244-247
- Collingwood (1898) p.280
- Foulkes (2005) p.135
- Carroll, Lewis (1954). The diaries of Lewis Carroll. Opie Collection of Children's Literature. Vol. 2. Cassell. p. 557.
- Hollingsworth, Cristopher (2009). Alice beyond wonderland: essays for the twenty-first century. University of Iowa Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-58729-819-6.
- Bakewell, Michael (1996). Lewis Carroll: a biography. Heinemann. p. 287. ISBN 0-434-04579-9.
- Cohen, Morton Norton (1982). Lewis Carroll and Alice, 1832-1982. Pierpont Morgan Library. p. 96.
- Foulkes (2005) p.103
- Carpenter, Angelica Shirley (2003). Lewis Carroll: through the looking glass. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 103. ISBN 0-8225-0073-6.
- Collingwood (1898) p.403
- Moses, p.272
- Gardner, Martin (1996). The universe in a handkerchief: Lewis Carroll's mathematical recreations, games, puzzles, and word plays. Birkhäuser. p. 5. ISBN 0-387-25641-5.
- Morton Norton Cohen, Roger Lancelyn Green, (1979) vol.2, p.710
- James G. Nelson, Peter Mendes, (2000) p.291
- James G. Nelson, Peter Mendes, (2000) p.348
- Frank A. Hoffmann, Analytical survey of Anglo-American traditional erotica, Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1973, ISBN 0-87972-055-7, p.34
- Tracy C. Davis, "The Actress in Victorian Pornography", Theatre Journal, Vol. 41, No. 3, Performance in Context (Oct., 1989), pp. 294-315 
- Davis, Tracy C. (1991). Actresses as working women: their social identity in Victorian culture. Gender and performance. Routledge. pp. 145, 180, 183. ISBN 0-415-05652-7.
- Kristine Ottesen Garrigan, Victorian scandals: representations of gender and class, Ohio University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-8214-1019-9, pp.113,131
- Foulkes (2005) p.67
- Cohen, Morton Norton (1989). Lewis Carroll: interviews and recollections. Macmillan. pp. 101–102. ISBN 0-333-41721-6.
- Cohen & Lancelyn Green (1979) vol.1 p.710
- ‘Marriage of Maggie Bowman’, The Era, 14 June 1902 p. 11
- Morton, William (1934). I Remember. (A Feat of Memory.). Market-place. Hull: Goddard. Walker and Brown. Ltd., pp. 127-128
- Isa Bowman at IMDb
- "Fringe Interview - Michael Maloney". Retrieved 8 August 2010.
- Collingwood, Stuart Dodgson (1898). The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll. T. Fisher Unwin.
- Foulkes, Richard (2005). Lewis Carroll and the Victorian stage: theatricals in a quiet life. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-0466-7.
- Bowman, Isa (1899). The Story of Lewis Carroll: Told for Young People by the Real Alice in Wonderland. J H Dent & Co.
- Moses, Belle (2009). Lewis Carroll in Wonderland and at Home: The Story of His Life. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 978-1-103-29348-3.
- Nelson, James G.; Mendes, Peter (2000). Publisher to the decadents: Leonard Smithers in the careers of Beardsley, Wilde, Dowson. Penn State series in the history of the book. Penn State Press. ISBN 0-271-01974-3.
- Cohen, Morton Norton; Lancelyn Green, Roger (1979). The letters of Lewis Carroll. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-520090-X.
- Cohen, Morton Norton; Lancelyn Green, Roger (1979). The Letters of Lewis Carroll: 1886-1898. Vol. 2. Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-24283-1.