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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75:1063 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2003.027599
  • Historical note

Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty: an early report of prosopagnosia?

  1. A J Larner
  1. Cognitive Function Clinic, Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Lower Lane, Fazakerley, Liverpool, L9 7LJ, UK; a.larner@thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk

      Prosopagnosia is a rare form of visual agnosia characterised by impaired recognition of familiar faces (or equivalent stimuli). The term was coined by Bodamer in 1947, although the phenomenon had been described towards the end of the 19th century by Quaglino (1867), Hughlings Jackson (1872, 1876), and Charcot (1883).1,2 Brief accounts thought to be suggestive of prosopagnosia have been identified in writings from classical antiquity by Thucydides and Seneca.3 While there are dangers in this type of retrospective case identification, nonetheless I venture to suggest another early description of prosopagnosia.

      The account is taken from Through the looking-glass and what Alice found there (1872) by Lewis Carroll (pseudonym of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). …