Isa Bowman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isa Bowman as the part of Alice in 1888

Isa Bowman (1874–1958) was an actress, a close friend of Lewis Carroll and author of a memoir about his life, The Story of Lewis Carroll, Told for Young People by the Real Alice in Wonderland.

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.[1][2] 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,[3][4][5][6] which she reprinted in her memoir.[7] Carroll introduced her to Ellen Terry,[8] who gave her elocution lessons.[9] Carroll dedicated his last novel Sylvie and Bruno to her in 1889: her name appears in a double acrostic poem in the introduction.[10][11][12]

She married the journalist George Reginald Bacchus in 1899.[13] In 1899-1900 Bacchus published a fictionalised version of her life in Society, a magazine he was editing.[14] 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).[14][15][16][17][18][19]

Isa Bowman was the daughter of Charles Andrew Bowman (b. 1851), a music teacher,[20] and Helen Herd, née Holmes.[21] Her sisters, Empsie, Nellie (Mrs Spens) and Maggie (Mrs Tom Morton) Bowman were all actresses,[22][23] and also friends of Carroll.[7] 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.[24]

Isa played a small part in the 1949 British film Vote for Huggett, together with her sisters Empsie and Nellie.[25]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Moses, pp.244-247
  2. ^ Collingwood (1898) p.280
  3. ^ Foulkes (2005) p.135
  4. ^ Carroll, Lewis (1954). The diaries of Lewis Carroll. Opie Collection of Children's Literature. Vol. 2. Cassell. p. 557.
  5. ^ Hollingsworth, Cristopher (2009). Alice beyond wonderland: essays for the twenty-first century. University of Iowa Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-58729-819-6.
  6. ^ Bakewell, Michael (1996). Lewis Carroll: a biography. Heinemann. p. 287. ISBN 0-434-04579-9.
  7. ^ a b Cohen, Morton Norton (1982). Lewis Carroll and Alice, 1832-1982. Pierpont Morgan Library. p. 96.
  8. ^ Foulkes (2005) p.103
  9. ^ Carpenter, Angelica Shirley (2003). Lewis Carroll: through the looking glass. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 103. ISBN 0-8225-0073-6.
  10. ^ Collingwood (1898) p.403
  11. ^ Moses, p.272
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Morton Norton Cohen, Roger Lancelyn Green, (1979) vol.2, p.710
  14. ^ a b James G. Nelson, Peter Mendes, (2000) p.291
  15. ^ James G. Nelson, Peter Mendes, (2000) p.348
  16. ^ Frank A. Hoffmann, Analytical survey of Anglo-American traditional erotica, Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1973, ISBN 0-87972-055-7, p.34
  17. ^ Tracy C. Davis, "The Actress in Victorian Pornography", Theatre Journal, Vol. 41, No. 3, Performance in Context (Oct., 1989), pp. 294-315 [1]
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Kristine Ottesen Garrigan, Victorian scandals: representations of gender and class, Ohio University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-8214-1019-9, pp.113,131
  20. ^ Foulkes (2005) p.67
  21. ^ Cohen, Morton Norton (1989). Lewis Carroll: interviews and recollections. Macmillan. pp. 101–102. ISBN 0-333-41721-6.
  22. ^ Cohen & Lancelyn Green (1979) vol.1 p.710
  23. ^ ‘Marriage of Maggie Bowman’, The Era, 14 June 1902 p. 11
  24. ^ Morton, William (1934). I Remember. (A Feat of Memory.). Market-place. Hull: Goddard. Walker and Brown. Ltd., pp. 127-128
  25. ^ Isa Bowman at IMDb
  26. ^ "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.

External links[edit]