Balbus was assisting his mother-in-law to convince the dragon

Balbus was assisting his mother-in-law to convince the dragon.


“Balbus was assisting his mother-in-law to convince the dragon” by A. B. Frost.

This illustration comes from Eligible Apartments, the second of Lewis Carroll’s ‘knots’ (mathematical problems which apparently much keener brains than mine consider fun to unravel). These knots (or short stories) form a larger piece entitled A Tangled Tale  which was published serially between April 1880 and March 1885.  Readers would write in with their suggested answers and in later issues Carroll gave the solution to each knot and discussed readers’ answers. Carroll described these works thus:

The writer’s intention was to embody in each Knot (like medicine so dexterously, but ineffectually, concealed in the jam of our early childhood) one or more mathematical questions — in Arithmetic, Algebra, or Geometry, as the case might be — for the amusement, and possible edification, of the fair readers of that magazine.

The artist: Arthur Burdett Frost (January 17, 1851 – June 22, 1928), was an early American illustrator, graphic artist, comics writer and well known painter. Frost is considered one of the great illustrators in the “Golden Age of American Illustration”, illustrating over 90 books and producing hundreds of paintings. Frost married another artist, illustrator Emily Louise Phillips, in 1883 and from 1906 until May 1914, Frost and his family lived in France, attracted by the Impressionist movement. Source: Wikipedia.

If you want to read knot II, from which this illustration comes, you can do so here:


Published by Jill London

Hi, I’m Jill, a writer and teacher living in the UK, usually behind a desk but sometimes on a sofa with a book or a film. I began writing at around age three, legibly by five, although I didn’t write any stories until I was older. Aged eleven, I began writing children’s fiction, mostly middle-grade fantasy and I’m still doing it to this day. I have had stories published online and in My Weekly magazine. The best bit about writing is when ideas pop into your head (from the writing fairy presumably?) and everything starts clipping together like a jigsaw puzzle. The worst bit? When you start to get the feeling there's a piece missing from the box...

4 thoughts on “Balbus was assisting his mother-in-law to convince the dragon

      1. Her stories are not sugary sweet–there’s a zest to them and her illustrations are gorgeous, but it’s her actual life that I’m mesmerized by! She saw herself as born in the wrong century and went about creating for herself an exact replica of 1840’s house and dressed the part–all the time–and had amazing gardens. I like her because she was so eccentric!


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