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Happy Birthday, Lewis Carroll

A birthday celebration that's popular in my geek-positive workplace, January 27th is the birthday of English author and mathematician Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), creator of the enigmatic grin-prone Cheshire Cat.

Edgerton Leigh’s Glossary of the Dialect of Cheshire (1877) observes, “To grin like a Cheshire cat is a very old saying, and like many old sayings, the origin is doubtful. An … amplified version is to grin like a Cheshire cat eating cheese. This may be supposed to produce a smile of satisfaction rather than a grin of disgust. Another hardly satisfactory explanation has been given [originally by Charles Lamb]…that Cheshire is a county palatine [royal seat], and when cats think of this they are so tickled at the notion that they cannot help grinning…. Some years since, Cheshire cheeses were sold in Bath moulded into the shape of a cat, bristles being inserted to represent whiskers. This may possibly have given rise to the saying.”

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