Le Plongeon, Alice

Article

August 20, 2022

Alice Le Plongeon (born Alice Le Plongeon, née Dixon, December 12, 1851, London - June 8, 1910, Brooklyn, New York) was an American photographer, writer and amateur archaeologist of British origin. Born into a London artistic family, her father and brother were both artistic photographers and painters. At the age of 19, she married the photographer and traveler Auguste Le Plongeon, accompanied him on long journeys through Mexico and British Honduras, which lasted in 1873-1884. She assisted in the excavations and photo fixation of the archaeological sites of Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Mayapan, the islands of the east coast of Yucatan. She actively promoted the occult and pseudoscientific theories of her husband, and developed them herself in her own writings. In 1890, she spoke to the head of the Theosophical Society, Helena Blavatsky, with a lecture on discoveries in the Mayan country, but did not find a common language with her. In the 1980s, the anthropologist Laurence Gustave Desmond, who in 2009 published a separate biography of Alice and published her field diaries for the years 1873-1876, as well as several versions of the catalog of photographs taken by the Le Plongeon spouses, took care of the photographic archive of the Le Plongeons.

Early life and marriage (1851-1873)

London

Alice was the second child of Henry Dickson (1820-1893) and Sophia Cooke (1827-1916); in total, nine children were born in their marriage. She was born on December 21, 1851 in Regent's Park, at number 83 Stanhope Street. Henry at that time worked as an engraver in a printing house, which later led him to the craft of a photographer. He later became a well-known landscape photographer and photographed historic buildings in London that were in danger of destruction, his studio became a profitable venture from the 1860s. Alice's maternal grandfather was the owner of a hotel and a butcher's shop in Byfleet in Surrey, and his uncle, his father's brother, Jacob Dixon (1806-1889), served in a homeopathic hospital on Great Ormond Street, took care of his niece in every possible way and instilled in her an interest in spiritualism. The rest of the relatives mostly adhered to Unitarianism, but in general, religion did not take up much space in the family. The younger brother Thomas James inherited his father's atelier, and previously received an art education.