Papers of John Wallis Dodgson

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of 17 volumes of diaries, 1939-1950, with manuscript indexes; personal papers, letters and photographs of J W Dodgson and others.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Wallis Dodgson was born in Reading in 1869, the son of John Dodgson, a cigar manufacturer from Liverpool. While studying for an external London B.Sc. Dodgson worked as a Demonstrator in the Chemistry and Physics department of the newly established University Extension College at Reading from 1892 to1895. At the same time, from 1893 to1896, he lectured in Chemistry at the Catholic school, St Mary's College in nearby Woolhampton. In 1903 Dodgson was given a Reading University degree by association and in 1904 he was appointed as lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry.

Dodgson's lucid lectures and patient teaching endeared him to his students and he took a great interest in their welfare. He was particularly concerned with non-resident students and became Warden of St. David's Hall when it was set up for their benefit in 1920, remaining until his retirement in 1934. He shared his knowledge of the architecture and archaeology of Berkshire and of places abroad he had visited and photographed on holiday, often through showing lantern-slides that he had made himself. Throughout his university career and to the end of his life he was an enthusiastic member of the Old Students Association, writing long and interesting letters to those working abroad and, with his wife Phyllis, welcoming those returning to Reading to his home.

Dodgson retired in 1934 and lived quietly in Woodley, taking an interest in his community, devoting himself to his large and varied correspondence and supporting local bodies such as Reading Amateur Regatta and Reading Music Club. When the Second World War broke out Dodgson began to keep a diary, recording local and national events and his own feelings about them, which he continued for the rest of his life. At the beginning of the war he served as a Voluntary Food Organiser but when younger lecturers began to join the armed forces Dodgson was asked to return to the university which he did from 1941to1945. After his second retirement he continued to visit Senior Common Room regularly and lunched there on the Monday before his death which took place after a fall on November 5th 1950 when he was 81 years old.

Access Information

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs P. Dodgson, 1973-1974


This description was written by Gil Skidmore

Other Finding Aids

Subject indexes to the diaries were constructed by Dodgson and are part of the collection.

Personal Names

Geographical Names