London: Macmillan and Co. 1879. 8vo. 39 pp. FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE. Original red publisher's cloth paneled in blind, gilt title on upper cover, slight soiling. An excellent presentation copy inscribed in purple ink, "Mrs. Neate from the Author." Preserved in a modern burgundy cloth box with red morocco sides, gilt lettered. Item #11022
First edition, first issue of this most popular word puzzle, invented by Carroll, that became a parlor craze in its time. "The rules of the puzzle are simple enough. Two words are proposed, of the same length; and the Puzzle consists in linking these together by interposing other words, each of which shall differ from the next word in one letter only." Beginning as a series of single problems which appeared in Vanity Fair on March 29, 1879, these games were collected by Macmillan and published here for the first time in book form. There are thirteen puzzles dated between March 29 and June 21, 1879. The name "doublets" was adopted after a passage in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Dodgson (1832-98), lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church College from 1855 to 1881, purportedly invented the game for Julia and Ethel Margaret Arnold, two little girls who "found nothing to do." Sophia Neate (1832-1908) of Heatherside, Woking, took on the care of Sally Sinclair and her siblings, whom Dodgson liked very much, when their parents died. Neate was supported financially by Dodgson and the actor Lionel Brough. On first meeting Mrs. Neate on June 26, 1879, Dodgson wrote in his diary that he ‘found her so interesting that I stayed 4 hours!" He occasionally visited her and noted the progress of the Sinclair children as they grew (see Cohen, The letters of Lewis Carroll, 1979, p. 334n).