Curiouser and curiouser! Study shows lawyers’ love for Carroll

Alice in Wonderland

A recent study of US Supreme Court Justices has discovered which literary authors they cite most often in their judgments.

The academic paper by Ami and Scott Dodson revealed that two writers tied for top position, both being referenced 16 times. Unsurprisingly, given his vast contribution to the stock of English phrases, William Shakespeare was one. Somewhat more surprising at first glance is that the other is Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll.

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A famed writer of nonsense might seem an unusual person to top a list of citations by judges, but it will come as no shock to anyone familiar with Lord Atkin’s famous dissenting judgment in Liversidge v Anderson, in which he quotes Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking-Glass.

The next most referenced author was George Orwell, with eight citations. He was followed by Charles Dickens (six citations), who famously worked as a legal clerk in Lincoln’s Inn and wrote the seminal legal thriller, Bleak House.

Aldous Huxley was referenced on four occasions and Aesop’s fables three times.