We can never know what caused the rift, though it has been the subject of much speculation and many writer’s have joined the rumor mill, keeping the story alive, using each other’s work to support their theories; so quick to jump to conclusions, that one begins to think that even if nothing perverse happened, they almost wish it had. A sort of vicarious thrill. Because several years of Dodgson’s diaries were destroyed, some assume that there must have been something to hide, some transgression or sin. Many write with authority (though in truth there is really no evidence to support these theories) that Dodgson overstepped his bounds with Alice when she was about eleven.
Florence Becker Lennon, in her 1945 book Victoria Through the Looking Glass, proclaimed that “Carroll was actually in love with [Alice Liddell] and proposed honorable marriage.” (24, dreaming) Another chronicler, Alexander Taylor, wrote that Dodgson was “in love with his heroine,” and that “as she grew up” she became “the real disappointment in his life.” (25, dreaming) Even Morton Cohen, considered Carroll’s most authoritative biographer, offers, in Nickel’s words, only “gossip, elliptical correspondence, and the existence of other ‘May-December’ marriages” - something not uncommon in the Victorian period – as further evidence of Dodgson’s infatuation. (25, dreaming)
When we cut through the guess-work, the real facts, found in the surviving diaries, it is clear that Dodgson did not always think very well of Alice: Thus, it is equally plausible that the missing pages said angry or unflattering things about her, which the Dodgson family destroyed not only to protect his character, but to spare the Liddells’ (and her married name, Hargreaves') feelings as well. Whatever the case, it is important to note that while Alice was the inspiration for the books, contrary to popular belief she was by no means his favorite photographic model.
That distinction, by Dodgson’s own admission, belonged to Alexandra (“Xie”) Kitchin, whom he photographed for a period of eleven years and sitting for him for at least fifty times that we know of, a longer relationship and more intense study than he had made of any other child. The photographs of Xie are among the most captivating Dodgson ever produced, not only because of Xie’s natural and haunting beauty, but also because she is often used to convey Dodgson’s fascination with altered states of consciousness. Xie appears in photographs in various stages of consciousness. She is reclining in her nightdress, dozing sleepily on the couch, other times, a wide-eyed insomniac.
Several photographs of Xie are titled “Sleepless” and “A Summer Night.” Whatever the post, Xie demonstrates a remarkable ease in front of the camera and with the photographer. Her gaze is direct, questioning, even, dare we say, provocative. Of the many portraits Dodgson took in his lifetime, practically the only close-ups are of Xie, her face and neck flooding the frame. If he wanted to get close to anyone, it was the dreamy and hypnotic Xie Kitchin. '