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Alice's Adventure in Wonderland Published - History

Alice's Adventure in Wonderland Published - History

Lewis Carol published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865. He went on to write Through the Looking Glass and other works.

Alice (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)

Alice is a fictional character and protagonist of Lewis Carroll's children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871). A child in the mid-Victorian era, Alice unintentionally goes on an underground adventure after accidentally falling down a rabbit hole into Wonderland in the sequel, she steps through a mirror into an alternative world.

The character originated in stories told by Carroll to entertain the Liddell sisters while rowing on the Isis with his friend Robinson Duckworth, and on subsequent rowing trips. Although she shares her given name with Alice Liddell, scholars disagree about the extent to which she was based upon Liddell. Characterized by Carroll as "loving and gentle", "courteous to all", "trustful", and "wildly curious", [1] Alice has been variously seen as clever, well-mannered, and sceptical of authority, although some commentators find more negative aspects of her personality. Her appearance changed from Alice's Adventures Under Ground, the first draft of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, to political cartoonist John Tenniel's illustrations of her in the two Alice books.

Alice has been identified as a cultural icon. She has been described as a departure from the usual nineteenth-century child protagonist, and the success of the two Alice books inspired numerous sequels, parodies, and imitations, with protagonists similar to Alice in temperament. She has been interpreted through various critical approaches, and has appeared and been re-imagined in numerous adaptations, including Walt Disney's film (1951). Her continuing appeal has been ascribed to her ability to be continuously re-imagined.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll. Barry Moser (illustrator). Selwyn H. Goodacre (editor). Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Gift of William A. Gosling.

Lewis Carroll. Barry Moser (illustrator). Selwyn H. Goodacre (editor). Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Gift of William A. Gosling.

Lewis Carroll. Barry Moser (illustrator). Selwyn H. Goodacre (editor). Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Gift of William A. Gosling.

Barry Moser’s visual interpretation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1982, illustrates the tale of Alice with woodcuts that subtly reflect the influence of 1980s punk. Woodcuts use only one color of ink and therefore contrast light and dark to a greater extent than other art media. Moser uses this medium to display for readers Alice’s topsy-turvy world as a bizarre and even sinister place. We see the story through the eyes of Alice, represented here as a dark-haired girl modeled on Moser’s own daughter instead of the traditionally pure-looking, blonde-haired, bright-smiled Alice.

Punk is characterized by a consistent rejection of the mainstream. And while punk is often associated with a distinct musical style, fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood crossed mediums and helped shape a uniquely punk fashion movement by pushing against traditionally feminine aesthetics with dark colors and oversized pieces.

Just as Westwood rejects conventional images of femininity, so too does Moser reject the now customary portrayal of Alice, suggesting that Moser also adheres to punk ideals. Additionally, the overall darkness of the woodcut print, the Mad Hatter’s clothing, and his slightly sadistic expression mirror the dramatic and deviant style of punk culture. Punk defied social norms and Alice’s edgier depiction in this edition echoes this subculture. Employing woodcuts, Moser generates an alternative imagining of Carroll’s story that, like punk, discards lighthearted conceptions to make room for a more eerie interpretation.

Sadie Cohen and Jacqueline Kenny

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (2004). Jane Carruth (adapter). Rene Cloke (illustrator)

Lewis Carroll. Jane Carruth (adapter). Rene Cloke (illustrator). Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. New York: Gramercy Books, 2004. SCRC Children's Literature Collection.

Lewis Carroll. Jane Carruth (adapter). Rene Cloke (illustrator). Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. New York: Gramercy Books, 2004. SCRC Children's Literature Collection.

In Jane Carruth’s version of Alice in Wonderland, illustrator Rene Cloke provides Lewis Carroll’s story with mundane illustrations that notably contrast with the nonsensical narrative. Carroll is widely recognized for creating a mad, distorted world that seems to promote the opposite of socialization. The transmission of this subversive world into children’s books may encourage young readers to question social norms and become “curiouser and curiouser.” However, Carruth’s version incorporates naturalistic drawings that pull readers away from the mad world. In the more familiar illustrations by John Tenniel, Alice’s unusual relative size is boldly emphasized. By contrast, Cloke’s Wonderland is adjusted to normalize Alice this prevents her from ever appearing out of place. When she changes size through drinking and eating, there is little in the art to suggest that her size is out of the ordinary, and the colors used for Alice suggest no contrast from the muted colors of the foreign land.

Neutralizing such a nonsensical tale seems to contradict Carroll’s original intent. This could express a more conventional value of proper socialization. Carruth and Cloke appear to want young readers to learn the story of Alice without truly experiencing the weirdness of it this minimizes the aspects of the text that encourage children to be curious about the world around them, and instead shapes children to behave in a manner that is more acceptable to society. The long text blocks and chapter book format imply that this book is targeting a more advanced reading audience, and the loss of imagination in the illustrations suggests a maturing audience beginning to conform to social norms.

Sarah Warschun and Hannah Markby

Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland (2008). Jon Scieszka (adapter). Mary Blair (illustrator)

Jon Scieszka (adapter). Mary Blair (illustrator). Lewis Carroll (author of original Alice ). Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland. New York: Disney Press, 2008. SCRC Children’s Literature Collection. Gift of William A. Gosling.

Jon Scieszka’s 2008 edition of Alice in Wonderland draws its inspiration and images heavily from the 1951 Walt Disney animated movie by the same name. The pictures illustrating the text come straight from the Disney archives of notable animator Mary Blair. The Disney production was based on a combination of Lewis Carroll’s books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In this edition, many lines are direct quotes from both Lewis Carroll’s and Disney’s versions. The pages displayed here exemplify this, showcasing Blair’s whimsical mid-century artistic style, a style that emphasizes the concept of nonsense.

Scieszka’s retelling substantially alters and abridges the film and the original books. Both Carroll’s and Disney’s versions allude to Isaac Watts’ poem "Against Idleness and Mischief." In each version, however, the poem is changed from “how doth the little busy bee” to “how doth the little crocodile,” replacing the original text with incorrect verses. This allusion was removed from Scieszka’s version, a clear example of the changing times, since children no longer memorize Watts’ poems during their early education as they once did.

Demonstrated in the pages chosen for display, Scieszka’s Alice mirrors the theme of nonsense present throughout Carroll’s original text and the adaptations that followed. This continuity across versions of the narrative shows that even with all of the changes applied to the original text, this idea remains important, as it represents the child’s wandering and growing imagination.

Heather Gaynor and Emma Koski

Alice in Wonderland: The Mad Hatter's Tea Party (2016). Joe Rhatigan and Charles Nurnberg (authors). Eric Puybaret (illustrator)

Joe Rhatigan and Charles Nurnberg (authors). Eric Puybaret (illustrator). Lewis Carroll (author of the original Alice). Alice in Wonderland: The Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Lake Corest, CA: MoonDance, 2016. SCRC Children's Literature Collection.

This 2016 version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is inspired by the original text’s Mad Tea Party chapter, which features the March Hare and the Mad Hatter. In this edition, aspects of both characters have been modernized for the child reader. In the original, the Mad Hatter misuses words and turns the “normal” into the extraordinary. He is fantastical, and his tea party displays his personal eccentricities and Wonderland’s magic. The March Hare in Carroll’s text is both bizarre and exciting. He flirts with the line between the human and the animal: even though he is a rabbit, he speaks, wears a shirt, tells time, and sits upright. He thus eludes easy categorization.

These original characters have been adapted for present day accessibility. Puybaret simplifies the Mad Hatter’s inclination toward wordplay through the conspicuous word “YUM” and the Hatter’s “strange giggles” about the concept of nothingness. The language of the original Tea Party is abstract, complex, and filled with puns, but this version offers the same ideas with brevity and childlike visuals.

Likewise, in the original work, a talking hare at a tea party is enough to attract a child’s attention. However, a talking hare at a tea party wearing blue Converse, an indication of contemporary human culture, captures the mind of a curious child in 2018, while remaining true to the creature’s original double-persona. This modernization of characters allows Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to live on, even as the world continues to change.


On 4 July 1862, Dodgson, along with Robinson Duckworth, took the daughters of their friend Henry Liddell - Lorina, Alice, and Edith - on a five-mile boat trip from Folly Bridge near Oxford to the village of Godstow. (The girls were 13, 10 and 8 at the time, respectively.)

During the trip, Dodgson told the girls a story about a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked him to write it down for her. Dodgson began writing the manuscript of the story the following, elaborating the plot to the story of Alice. In November that year he began working on the manuscript in earnest. He researched natural history for the animals presented in the book, and then had the book examined by other children. He added his own illustrations, but approached John Tenniel to illustrate the book for publication, telling him that the story had been well liked by children.

On 26 November 1864, Dodgson gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, dedicating it as "A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer's Day." (Some speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson when he printed a more elaborate copy by hand.) However, before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication, expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words.

Chapter 1: Down The Rabbit Hole

Alice holding a Drink Me bottle.

Alice and her sister are lazing a river bank in the English countryside. As the bored Alice decides what to do, she spots a White Rabbit in a waistcoat with a pocket watch run by. Curious, having never seen a talking rabbit in clothing before, Alice chases it down a rabbit hole which, after a very long and slow fall, leads to a hallway of doors.

After finding all the doors are locked, Alice discovers a golden key on a glass table that won't fit any door, except a tiny door that she cannot get through, but lead into a beautiful garden. She then finds a vial of potion. After a little consideration, she drinks from it, and it makes her suddenly shrink.

Although she is now small enough for the tiny door, Alice had forgetting the key on top of the table, and she cannot climb the table as the glass is far too slippery. While wondering what to do, she finds a little cake. She eats it, and it makes her grow.

Chapter 2: Pool of Tears

Now gigantic, Alice becomes stuck in the hallway and starts to sob inconsolably. She pleads for the White Rabbit's assistance, but he runs away, so frightened at her giant size that he drops his gloves and fan. As Alice goes on a rant to herself about her strange day, she fans herself with the Rabbit's fan, which helps her shrink again.

She lands in a huge pool of water, and realizes she has cried a pool of tears. In the pool, she comes across a mouse, who is easily offended by talking about her cat, Dinah. The pool soon becomes filled with various creates - a duck, a Dodo, an Eaglet, and several others - and they all swim to the shore.

Chapter 3: A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale

Although out of the pool, Alice and the creatures are still soaking wet, so Mouse tells a long, dry tale of William the Conqueror to try to dry them. It does not work, so Dodo suggests a Caucus Race: a race where everyone starts and finishes the race whenever they please. Once they are dry, the Mouse tells Alice a long story about his upbringing, but Alice is too occupied with his tail getting into knots. Alice feels a little homesick and talks about Dinah again, but when its revealed Dinah is a cat, the creatures run away.

Chapter 4: The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill

Bill being shot out of the chimney.

The White Rabbit comes upon the scene and mistakes Alice for his house-maid Mary Anne. He has her fetch a new pair of gloves and a fan for him, but while in his house, Alice sees another bottle and takes her chances to drink it.

Alice begins to grow again and becomes trapped in the room, with an arm out of the window and a foot in the chimney. Rabbit tries to open the door, but of course Alice has blocked the door. When he tries the window, he is frightened by the sight of the large arm and falls into a cucumber box.

He and many of his workers try to think of something to do, and eventually send Bill the Lizard down the chimney. Unimpressed, Alice kicks Bill and sends him shooting out of the chimney again. Rabbit and the workers then start throwing pebbles into the house, which turn into soft sponge cake. Alice eats one and shrinks again, and runs away from the mess.

Alice then comes across an enormous puppy and briefly plays fetch with it, before she comes across a large mushroom where the Caterpillar is.

Chapter 5: Advice from a Caterpillar

Alice finding the Caterpillar.

The Caterpillar asks Alice who she is, but Alice is not quite sure herself due to all the changes she has been through already. She eventually gets frustrated with Caterpillar's questions and goes to walk away, but Caterpillar tells her to keep her temper and recite the poem You Are Old Father William.

She gets it completely wrong and the Caterpillar, after an awkward silence, asks her what size she would like to be. He is offended when Alice decides 3 inches is a wretched height, because he is exactly three inches height, but tells her the mushroom will help her before he leaves. Alice eats the right side of the mushroom that makes her shrink, but her head strikes down to her feet. The left side makes her neck grow, and a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. However, with careful eating, Alice manages to make herself 9 inches high when she finds a small house.

Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper

Alice in the Duchess' house.

Outside of the house, two footmen exchange an invitation for the Duchess to play Croquet with the Queen of Hearts. Alice storms into the house after a pointless conversation with the Frog-Footman.

Inside, she finds the Duchess, her cook, and her pet Cheshire Cat. In the Duchess' lap, there is a wailing baby who sneezes occasionally. Alice tries to make intellectual conversation with the Duchess, but due to the large amount of pepper in the air, the woman is very short tempered and has a violent speech.

When the Duchess goes to get ready for the croquet party, she hands the baby to Alice. Alice takes her chance to save the baby from the chaotic household, but outside of the house, the baby turns into a pig and she lets it wander off into the woods.

Alice then speaks with the Cheshire Cat, who reveals that she can go to either the home of the Mad Hatter or the March Hare. Alice explains she is uncomfortable around mad people, but the Cat reveals that everyone is mad in Wonderland, and so is she. After the Cat disappears, leaving only his fading grin, Alice chooses to visit the Hare, believing that since it wasn't March he won't be so mad.

Chapter 7: A Mad Tea-Party

The March Hare, Dormouse, Mad Hatter and Alice in a tea party.

When Alice reaches the Hare's house, she finds a tea party is going ahead with the Hare, Hatter and the Dormouse, who dozes off constantly. Alice sits with the party and listens to the nonsensical chatter of Hatter's crime for literally killing time by reciting Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat, and hearing Dormouse's story about three little sisters who lived in the bottom of a treacle well.

Alice eventually becomes so offended and agitated by the party that she leaves without them even noticing (much to her disappointment), and finds a door in a tree which leads her back into the Hallway of Doors again. Learning from her past mistake, Alice is careful to have the key with her as she shrinks again, and she finally gets into the tiny door, leading to the Queen of Hearts' garden.

Chapter 8: The Queen's Croquet-Garden

Alice finds three Card Guards painting white Roses with red paint. As she helps paint the roses, the Queen of Hearts comes to look at her garden and is insulted to find the white roses.

She orders the 3 cards to be executed. She demands to know Alice's relation to the cards, but Alice stands up to the Queen, which is quite shocking to the Queen herself. They decide to play croquet, and the White Rabbit reveals the Duchess is in prison for boxing the Queen's ears. During the crazy party, the head of the Cat makes his appearance and insults the King of Hearts, who orders his head to be cut off. However, the Executioner states he can not behead something without a body. Asked for her advice, Alice suggests they seek the Duchess' opinion. The Cat soon disappears again.

Chapter 9: The Mock Turtle's Story

The Duchess trying to befriend Alice.

After a conversation with the Duchess (a very lousy one, according to Alice,) the Queen of Hearts demands the Duchess leave the grounds immediately or face execution. The Queen then insists Alice visits the Mock Turtle to get him to tell her his story. She has the Gryphon take the girl to see him. After a long period of sobbing over his past and school-life, the Mock Turtle decides to recite the song, the Lobster's Quadrille.

Chapter 10: The Lobster Quadrille

Mock Turtle and Gryphon act out the dance of the Lobster's Quadrille while singing it. Alice joins in happily and afterwards tells the two characters her day in Wonderland. When she gets to the Caterpillar part, the Gryphon proclaims her to recite T'is the Voice of the Sluggard. Alice fails to recite the poem correctly, and Mock Turtle begins to sing a song about himself, Beautiful Soup. Suddenly, the Gryphon whisks Alice away to the trial of the Knave of Hearts.

Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts?

The King and Queen have accused the Knave of Hearts for stealing the tarts, which are clearly sitting upon the table untouched. Alice steals one of the juror's pens (Bill's) because it squeaks too much. The trial goes ahead and the Mad Hatter is called as the first witness. He is timid and terrified of the Queen, who has a faint memory of him as the singer that murdered time. The Hatter escapes the courtroom before the Queen can call for his head.

Meanwhile, Alice is growing again. The second witness is brought to the court stand, the Duchess' Cook, who makes the whole room sneeze from the pepper. Getting no evidence from her, the King has the Queen cross-examine the next witness: Alice.

Chapter 12: Alice's Evidence

The Cards attacking Alice.

Alice stands but she has grown to her natural size in the last few minutes and knocks the jury over and the trial won't proceed until she puts them in their right place. Alice does so and when interviewed on the case, she says she has absolutely no idea about anything about the crime. The King demands Alice leave since she is considered more than a mile high, as declared by rule 42.

The White Rabbit declares new evidence has been found - a series of verses. But upon reading the verses, they have nothing to do with the case what so ever. The King makes an awkward joke about the poem to describe the Knave and demands the verdict but the Queen demands the sentence. Alice defies the Queen's logic and stands up to the Queen once more. In her fit of rage, she announces Alice's death, but Alice does not care about what the Queen says and the whole card pack attacks her, and she fends them off until they turn into dry leaves. Alice wakes up and tells her sister her curious adventures and she also dreams of Wonderland.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

London: Macmillan & Co., 1866. Second (first published) edition. The book that forever changed the face of children&rsquos literature. In the original publisher's red, gilt-stamped cloth, gilt edges, light blue end papers, Burn & Co. binder's ticket on lower pastedown. A Very Good copy, recased, preserving the original spine. Minor spotting and soiling to the cloth. Contemporary owner's signature on the front end paper. Early issue with the inverted "S" on the last line of the contents page. Housed in a custom clamshell case.

Cleverly crafted by Oxford don Charles Dodgson under the pen name Lewis Carroll, Alice&rsquos Adventures in Wonderland remains one of the most influential pieces of children&rsquos literature ever written. The book has been published in more than 112 languages and defined the popular “nonsense” genre of writing in the nineteenth century. Given initially to the real-life Alice, Alice Lyttle, the original manuscript which was hand written and illustrated by Dodgson now remains with the British Library. Though Dodgson published the story in 1865 with accompanying illustrations by John Tenniel, the first 2,000 copies were not distributed because Tenniel was dissatisfied with the print quality. Macmillan quickly reprinted the book using this 1866 title page, with copies available as early as November 1865, making this the first "published" edition available for purchase at bookstores. The 2,000 unbound sheets that were rejected by Tenniel were sent to the US publisher, Appleton & Co., who bought the rights and used them as the first US edition approximately six months later in 1866. Very Good (Item #2689)

Origins of Through the Looking Glass

The opening scene

The opening scene in “Through the Looking-Glass” in which Alice ponders about the behaviour of her kittens, reflects a paragraph from an article in Blackwood’s Magazine, published in November 1846 (Tillotson, 1950):

‘It was the kitten that began it, and not the cat. It isn’t any use saying it was the cat, because I was there, and I saw it and know it and if I don’t know it, how should anybody else be able to tell you about it, if you please? So I say again it was the kitten that began it, and the way it all happened was this.

‘There was a little bit, a small tiny string of blue worsted-no! I am wrong, for when I think again the string was pink-which was hanging down from a little ball that lay on the lap of a tall dark girl with lustrous eyes, who was looking into the fire as intently as if she expected to see a salamander in
the middle of it. [Meanwhile Huggs the old cat is watching through half-shut eyes] the movements of a smart little kitten [playing with a roll of paper, which pricks it]. And then the kitten put on a look of importance,
as if its feelings had been injured in the nicest points, and then walked up demurely to Huggs, and began to pat her whiskers, as if it wanted, which it probably did, to tell her all about it.’

[There follows a long game with the worsted, the tall girl’s annoyance, and the intervention, in defence of the cat and against the kitten, of ‘a little child’ sitting on the other side of the fire.]

The Red Queen

When Carroll described his Red Queen in the article ‘Alice on the Stage‘, he described her as “formal and strict, yet not unkindly pedantric to the tenth degree, the concentrated essences of all governesses”. Also, in earlier editions of the book, the Red Queen was being described as “She’s one of the thorny kind”. In later editions this was changed to “She’s one of the kind that has nine spikes, you know”, which referred to the spikes on a queen’s crown. Carroll may have decided to remove an in-joke: the Red Queen being the governess of the Liddell sisters, Miss Prickett. She was nicknamed “Pricks”.

The Rose and a Violet

The Rose and a Violet that Alice meets in the Garden of Live Flowers may refer two her two younger sisters, named Rhoda and Violet (Hunt, 69).

“It’s my opinion that you never think at all,” the Rose said, in a rather severe tone.
“I never saw anybody that looked stupider,” a Violet said, so suddenly, that Alice quite jumped for it hadn’t spoken before.

Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday

`You couldn’t have it if you did want it,’ the Queen said. `The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday — but never jam to-day.’
`It must come sometimes to “jam do-day,”‘ Alice objected.
`No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. `It’s jam every other day: to-day isn’t any other day, you know.’

In this passage, Carroll may be playing with the Latin word ‘iam’. The letters i and j are interchangeable in classic Latin. ‘Iam’ means now. This word is used in the past and future tense, but in the present tense the word for ‘now’ is ‘nunc’. So because you can never use ‘iam’ in the present, you’ll never have ‘jam to-day’!

It may also have to do with a second definition of the word ‘jam’. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘jam’ does not only refer to the fruit spread for bread, but can also mean someting more figuratively: ‘something good or sweet, esp. with allusion to the use of sweets to hide the disagreeable taste of medicine … something pleasant promised or expected for the future, esp. something that one never receives’ (Jylkka).

The railway carriage

Apparently, the passage about Alice travelling by railway carriage used to contain an old lady. Carroll dropped her from the chapter after he received a letter from Tenniel on June 1, 1870, in which he made the following suggestion:

“I think that when the jump occurs in the railway scene you might very well make Alice lay hold of the goat’s beard as being the object nearest to her hand – instead of the old lady’s hair. The jerk would actually throw them together.

Railway jokes

There are two jokes in the railway scene that may be missed if you don’t know the English phrases they are based on. “She must be labeled ‘Lass, with care'” refers to the fact that packages containing glass objects are commonly labeled ‘Glass, with care’. The line “She must go by post, as she’s got a head on her” refers to the fact that ‘head’ was a Victorian slang word, meaning postage stamp (as stamps had the head of the monarch on them) (Gardner, “Anniversary edition”).


In Looking Glass world Alice encounters a snap-dragon-fly, who’s body is made of plum-pudding, its wings of holly-leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy. He makes his nest in a Christmas box.

This may seem a strange description, but it refers to ‘snapdragon’ a parlour game played at Christmas time in which children would try to ‘snatch raisins out of a dish of burning brandy and eat them while still alight’ (Jylkka).

Bread and butter

According to the American Edwin Marsden, some children are being taught to wisper ‘bread and butter, bread and butter’ whenever being circled by a wasp, bee, or other insect, to prevent getting stung. If this was also a customary in Victorian England, it may explain why the White Queen whispers this phrase when the is being scared by the monstrous crow.

The Old Sheep Shop

In ‘Through the Looking Glass’ Alice meets an old, knitting sheep in a shop. There was (and is) an actual shop in Oxford on which that part of the story was based.

In Carroll’s time, it was a candy shop and Alice often went there to buy sweets. The woman who owned the shop at the time was old, had a very bleaty voice and was always knitting. That may be why Carroll changed her into a knitting sheep.

Tenniel’s image of the shop shows it mirrored – after all, Alice went through the looking glass!

The sudden change of the shop into a river may be inspired by the occasional flooding of Oxford. The shop was one of the buildings prone to flooding. In December 1852, while Carroll was an Oxford undergraduate, there was a particularly severe flood. According to the London Illustrated News, there were numerous drowned carcasses, including those of sheep. (O’Connor).

Nowadays the shop is a souvenir shop, where you can buy lots of Alice in Wonderland things. You can find it at 83 Saint Aldgate’s Street, Oxford, which is directly across Christ Church.

The eggs from the Old Sheep Shop

The Sheep in Through the Looking Glass tells Alice that if she buys two eggs, she has to eat them both. Alice decides to buy only one, for ‘they mightn’t be at all nice’. Undergraduates at Christ Church, in Carroll’s day, insisted that if you ordered one boiled egg for breakfast you usually received two, one good and one bad (Carroll, “Diaries” 176).

The Anglo-Saxon messengers

The messengers of the White King in ‘Through the Looking Glass’, Haigha and Hatta, are the Mad Hatter and the March Hare from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. The Anglo-Saxon name ‘Haigha’ is pronounced as “Hayor”, which makes it sound like ‘hare’.

In his account of the Kings Messengers’ approach (Through the Looking Glass), Carroll was poking fun at the very earnest Anglo-Saxon scholarship practiced at Oxford in his day, and both his and Tenniel’s renderings of the Messengers’ costume and ‘attitudes’ were almost certainly taken from one of the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian Library the Caedmon Manuscript of the Junian codex.

Many of the words in ‘Jabberwocky’ are also related to Anglo-Saxon ones (Gardner, “The Annotated Alice” 279).

Magic tricks

Lewis Carroll had a fondness for amateur magic, and therefore references to magic tricks may have been added to the ‘Alice’ books. The Sheep’s standing up of eggs in the chapter “Wool and Water” was a common conjuring trick of the time. Also, Haigha’s extraction of a sandwich from his bag was a variation of the so-called Egg Bag Trick (Fisher 81).

“There’s glory for you!”

Wilbur Gaffney argues that Humpty Dumpty’s definition of ‘glory’ (“a nice knock-down argument”) may have been derived from a passage in a book from philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1599-1679):

“Sudden glory, is the passion which maketh those grimaces called LAUGHTER and is caused either by some sudden act of their own, that pleaseth them [such as, obviously, coming out with a nice knock-down argument] or by the apprehension of some deformed thing in another, by comparison whereof they suddenly applaud themselves.”

“I love my love with an H”

‘I love my love with an A’ was a popular parlor game in the Victorian time. The players recited the following lines:

“I love my love with an <A> because he’s: ….
I hate him because he’s: …
He took me to the Sign of the: …
And treated me with: …
His name’s: …
And he lives at: …”

At the end of each line the player had to make up a word beginning with the A, then the following player with a B, etc., until a player was unable to come up with a word. The wording of the lines varied (Gardner, “Anniversary edition”).

The White Knight

The White Knight represents Dodgson himself. This can be derived from the description (‘shaggy hair’, ‘gentle face and large mild eyes’), his many inventions, and his melancholy song. Also, on the underside of a hand-drawn game board Carroll once wrote: “Olive Butler, from the White Knight”, thereby identifying himself as the Knight (Stern), and when Carroll wrote “Isa’s Visit to Oxford” in 1888, he called himself ‘the Aged, Aged Man’, abbreviated as ‘the A.A.M.’ (Guiliano).

Therefore, when the White Knight says good-bye to Alice, who is going to become a Queen, Dodgson might be saying good-bye to Alice who is going to become a grown woman.

The leg of mutton

Carroll often parodied Victorian etiquette. An example is the scene in which Alice is being introduced to the Leg of Mutton:

“You look a little shy. Let me introduce you to that leg of mutton,” said the Red
Queen. “Alice–Mutton: Mutton–Alice.”
The mutton got up in the dish and made a little bow to Alice and Alice returned the bow, not knowing whether to be frightened or amused.
“May I give you a slice?” she said, taking up the knife and fork and looking from one Queen to the other.
“Certainly not,” the Red Queen said very decidedly: “it isn’t etiquette to cut anyone you’ve been introduced to.”

One of the numerous rules which governed a proper Victorian lady’s behavior was the admonition against “cutting.” According to one etiquette guide, “A Lady should never ‘cut’ someone, that is to say, fail to acknowledge their presence after encountering them socially, unless it is absolutely necessary”.

Clearly, Carroll is poking fun at etiquette here both through the punning of the term “to cut” as well as the ridiculous bowing of the leg of mutton (Lim).

The date of Through the Looking Glass

We can guess the date when the story ‘Through the Looking Glass’ took place.

In the first chapter Alice says that ‘tomorrow’ there’ll be a bonfire. That means that it is November 4, one day before Guy Fawkes Day. This holiday was annually celebrated at Christ Church with a huge bonfire in Peckwater Quadrangle. Alice also tells the White Queen that she’s ‘seven and a half exactly’, so the continuation probably takes place a half year after the first story, which was dated on May 4th, and as the real Alice was born in 1852, the year must be 1859 (Gardner, “The Annotated Alice”).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Chapter Summaries

Chapter One &ndash Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice, a girl of seven years, is feeling bored and drowsy while sitting on the riverbank with her elder sister. She then notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole when suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit through, but through it she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle on a table labelled "DRINK ME," the contents of which cause her to shrink too small to reach the key which she has left on the table. She eats a cake with "EAT ME" written on it in currants as the chapter closes.

Chapter Two &ndash The Pool of Tears: Chapter Two opens with Alice growing to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling. Alice is unhappy and, as she cries, her tears flood the hallway. After shrinking down again due to a fan she had picked up, Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him in elementary French (thinking he may be a French mouse) but her opening gambit "Où est ma chatte?" ("Where is my cat?") offends the mouse and he tries to escape her.

Chapter Three &ndash The Caucus Race and a Long Tale: The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away by the rising waters. Alice and the other animals convene on the bank and the question among them is how to get dry again. The Mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Alice eventually frightens all the animals away, unwittingly, by talking about her (moderately ferocious) cat.

Chapter Four &ndash The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill: The White Rabbit appears again in search of the Duchess's gloves and fan. Mistaking her for his maidservant, Mary Ann, he orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve them, but once she gets inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes. Alice eats them, and they reduce her again in size.

Chapter Five &ndash Advice from a Caterpillar: Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a blue Caterpillar smoking a hookah. The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. Before crawling away, the caterpillar tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her normal height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.

Chapter Six &ndash Pig and Pepper: A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, lets herself into the house. The Duchess's Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess, and her baby (but not the cook or grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. Alice is given the baby by the Duchess and to her surprise, the baby turns into a pig. The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare's house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.

Chapter Seven &ndash A Mad Tea-Party: Alice becomes a guest at a "mad" tea party along with the March Hare, the Hatter, and a very tired Dormouse who falls asleep frequently, only to be violently woken up moments later by the March Hare and the Hatter. The characters give Alice many riddles and stories, including the famous 'Why is a raven like a writing desk?'. The Hatter reveals that they have tea all day because Time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time). Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.

Chapter Eight &ndash The Queen's Croquet Ground: Alice leaves the tea party and enters the garden where she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because The Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen. The Queen, a figure difficult to please, introduces her trademark phrase "Off with his head!" which she utters at the slightest dissatisfaction with a subject. Alice is invited (or some might say ordered) to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then orders the Cat to be beheaded, only to have her executioner complain that this is impossible since the head is all that can be seen of him. Because the cat belongs to the Duchess, the Queen is prompted to release the Duchess from prison to resolve the matter.

Chapter Nine &ndash The Mock Turtle's Story: The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground at Alice's request. She ruminates on finding morals in everything around her. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and she introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which the Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.

Chapter Ten &ndash Lobster Quadrille: The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster". The Mock Turtle sings them "Beautiful Soup" during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.

Chapter Eleven &ndash Who Stole the Tarts?: Alice attends a trial whereby the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court's trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger. The dormouse scolds Alice and tells her she has no right to grow at such a rapid pace and take up all the air. Alice scoffs and calls the dormouse's accusation ridiculous because everyone grows and she cannot help it. Meanwhile, witnesses at the trial include the Hatter, who displeases and frustrates the King through his indirect answers to the questioning, and the Duchess's cook.

Chapter Twelve &ndash Alice's Evidence: Alice is then called up as a witness. She accidentally knocks over the jury box with the animals inside them and the King orders the animals be placed back into their seats before the trial continues. The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 ("All persons more than a mile high to leave the court"), but Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar "Off with her head!" but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards just as they start to swarm over her. Alice's sister wakes her up from a dream, brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice's face. Alice leaves her sister on the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.

The real story and places behind Alice in Wonderland

The Lewis Carroll Memorial Window at All Saints Church, Daresbury, is better known as the Alice Window.

The true history of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the life of Alice Liddell, and what remains in real life of these fantastical tales.

Since the fictional Alice roams through subterranean wonders, Dodgson called his tale Alice in Wonderland when he published it under his pen name Lewis Carroll. But the real Alice lived her life in an above-ground wonderland, almost as amazing and often surprisingly like the world of the rabbit-hole. Much of that real-world wonderland remains, not flashing neon signs to lure visitors, but easy to find and full of memories of Alice Liddell and the man who gave her fictional life.

Alice was the daughter of Henry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, where Charles Dodgson lectured in mathematics. With Sir Christopher Wren’s lantern-shaped Tom Tower crowning the gatehouse and its spacious Great Quadrangle, Christ Church is an architectural jewel, the most magnificent of the Oxford colleges and unique in that its chapel is also the city’s cathedral.

The real Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell.

Alice was three when her father became dean and moved his family from smoggy London to his splendidly refurbished deanery. Later in life, Alice recalled the lions he had carved in a corridor. When she and her sisters passed them on their way to bed, she said, “We just knew…they got down from their pedestals and ran after us.”

Lions don’t appear in Alice in Wonderland , but Christ Church harbors many other denizens of the novel. In the Great Hall, built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1529, the brass firedogs look amazingly like the long-necked Alice telescoping upward in John Tenniel’s original drawings for the book.

Above the fireplace, stained-glass windows portray some of the creatures of Wonderland. One pane shows Alice with streams of blonde hair as she is shown in the book, and the real Alice Liddell, with short dark hair fringing her forehead. Another pane shows Charles Dodgson and the Dodo—a fictional counterpart he chose because his habitual stammer made him pronounce his name as” Do-Do-Dodgson.”

There’s also a portrait of Alice’s father, thought to be the original White Rabbit. One explanation is that as head of both the college and the cathedral he was a busy man, always in a hurry and often late, so he resembled the White Rabbit hastening to meet the Queen. Another explanation is that he frequently left his place at High Table by a small private door known to the rest of the college as the rabbit hole.

The River Isis, known elsewhere as the Thames, flows through Oxford toward Salter’s boatyard at Folly Bridge, where Charles Dodgson used to take the Liddell girls boating.

Other characters in the novel had real-life origins. Boating-trip companions Canon Robinson Duckworth and Alice’s sisters, Lorina and Edith, appear as the Duck, the Lory—a sort of parrot—and the Eaglet respectively. But who was the Cheshire Cat, who faded away leaving behind only its toothy grin? Theories abound. One claims that Cheshire pubs often had smiling cats on their signs, which is certainly true nowadays as Cheshire people are proud of their county’s appearance in the famous novel.

More likely, scholars suggest, the cat represents Dean Stanley, a member of a prestigious Cheshire family and an Oxford clergyman skilled in pushing through ecclesiastical reforms. He prided himself on seeing both sides of an argument—a quality satirized in the Cheshire Cat’s answer when Alice asks which way to go: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

A further explanation of the cat’s evanescence may lie in Charles Dodgson’s hobby. He was one of England’s greatest 19th-century photographers. Alice recalled watching him develop plates in his darkroom. “What could be more thrilling than to see the negative gradually take shape?” she asked in her memoir. Maybe Dodgson, who was born in Cheshire, wanted to remind Alice that he was the cat who could produce this exciting phenomenon.

Dodgson had met Alice as she and her sisters were playing in the deanery garden when he went to photograph it. This was the first of many pictures he took of Alice, a photogenic child with a pretty habit, rather like Princess Diana’s, of tipping her chin down and looking at the camera from under her brows. Similarly, the trip on the river was only one of many. As Alice later recalled, “When we went on the river for the afternoon with Mr. Dodgson, he always brought out with him a basket full of cakes, and a kettle which we used to boil under a haycock. On rarer occasions, we went out for the whole day…and took a larger basket with luncheon—cold chicken and salad and all sorts of good things.”

While dodos are long gone (though there’s a skeleton of one in Oxford’s Museum of Natural History), and White Rabbits with waistcoats are unlikely to appear, a boating trip with a picnic is easy to reproduce at Oxford. Dodgson rented boats from Salter’s near Folly Bridge, a firm that remains in business. From there the river traverses the locks that channel it through Oxford, and then on through willow-fringed fields to Binsey—home of the Treacle Well in the dormouse’s story. It is in St. Margaret’s churchyard. Farther on lies Godstow, where there’s a charming weir and the Trout Inn, as popular in Alice’s day as it is in ours.

Apart from river trips, Alice’s other summer diversion was visits to Llandudno in North Wales. The town was then new, but already known as the Queen of Welsh Resorts. It had been planned by the landowner, Lord Mostyn, for visitors who wanted more elegance than other seaside towns could provide. The Liddells first stayed there at Tudno Villa on the North Parade in 1861. The census taken while they were there records that they had with them four servants and the girls’ governess. This number of servants suggests the lavish style of their lives.

mong their guests in Oxford was Queen Victoria, whose sons, the Prince of Wales and Prince Leopold, studied at Christ Church. Other visiting dignitaries included Prime Ministers William Gladstone and Lord Salisbury.

The pretty seafront at Llandudno still retains that air of quiet gentility that drew the Dean of Christ Church to make the “Queen of Welsh Resorts” the family summer home.

With such company and a growing family, the Liddells decided to build a summer home in Llandudno. They chose a site on the quiet West Beach, a small bay beneath a cliff called the Great Orme, and built an ornately pinnacled mansion named Penmorfa. Alice spent her days there sketching or walking with her father and sisters. After dinner, family and guests assembled to view the dramatic sunsets over the Conwy estuary—the best sunsets in Britain thought poet Matthew Arnold, who visited them there.

Today, visitors to Llandudno can see the same lovely views and walk the same paths over the Great Orme. Penmorfa no longer remains, though Tudno Villa is now the charming St. Tudno Hotel. Llandudno stays true to its Victorian origin because the Mostyn Estate does not permit tatty amusement arcades or tall buildings that would spoil the views of Snowdonia. So, the town thrives as a shopping center for people from neighboring villages and a pleasant resort for visitors who like its ocean and mountain views.

Charles Dodgson never visited Llandudno. He spent his holidays with his sisters in Guildford, perhaps recalling their earliest days in Daresbury, Cheshire, where their father was vicar of All Saints Church. The 12th-century church retains a 16th-century tower, though much of it dates from later. Chief among these additions is the Lewis Carroll Memorial Window.

It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the author’s birth, with a Nativity scene bordered by characters from Alice in Wonderland , including one showing a sweetly somnolent dormouse being stashed in a teapot. Fittingly, the window with the dedication to Charles Dodgson has the smiling White Rabbit, who led Alice into Wonderland, and The Dodo, also smiling, who recorded her adventures there.


Carroll's book is episodic and reveals more in the situations that it contrives than in any serious attempt at plot or character analysis. Like a series of nonsense poems or stories created more for their puzzling nature or illogical delightfulness, the events of Alice's adventure are her encounters with incredible but immensely likable characters. Carroll was a master of toying with the eccentricities of language.

One feels that Carroll is never more at home than when he is playing, punning, or otherwise messing around with the English tongue. Although the book has been interpreted in numerous ways, from an allegory of semiotic theory to a drug-fueled hallucination, perhaps it is this playfulness that has ensured its success over the last century.

The book is brilliant for children, but with enough hilarity and joy for life in it to please adults too, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a lovely book with which to take a brief respite from our overly rational and sometimes dreary world.

The 100 best novels: No 18 – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

O n 4 July 1862, a shy young Oxford mathematics don with a taste for puzzles and whimsy named Charles Dodgson rowed the three daughters of Henry Liddell, dean of Christ Church, five miles up the Thames to Godstow. On the way, to entertain his passengers, who included a 10-year-old named Alice, with whom he was strangely infatuated, Dodgson began to improvise the "Adventures Under Ground" of a bored young girl, also named Alice. Wordplay, logical conundrums, parody and riddles: Dodgson surpassed himself, and the girls were enchanted by the nonsense dreamworld he conjured up. The weather for this trip was reportedly "overcast", but those on board would remember it as "a golden afternoon".

This well-known story marks the beginning of perhaps the greatest, possibly most influential, and certainly the most world-famous Victorian English fiction, a book that hovers between a nonsense tale and an elaborate in-joke. Just three years later, extended, revised, and retitled Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, now credited to a pseudonymous Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (its popular title) was about to become the publishing sensation of Christmas 1865. It is said that among the first avid readers of Alice were Queen Victoria and the young Oscar Wilde. A second volume about Alice (Through the Looking-Glass) followed in 1871. Together these two short books (Wonderland is barely 28,000 words long) became two of the most quoted and best-loved volumes in the English canon.

What is the secret of Carroll's spell? Everyone will have their own answer, but I want to identify three crucial elements to the magic of Alice. First, and most emphatically, this is a story about a quite bad-tempered child that is not really for children, while at the same time addressing childish preoccupations. (Who am I? is a question Alice repeatedly vexes herself with.) Next, it has a dreamlike unreality peopled with some of the most entertaining characters in English literature. The White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Mock Turtle, the Cheshire Cat and the King and Queen of Hearts are simply the most memorable of a cast from which every reader will find his or her favourite. Third, Carroll possessed an unforced genius for the most brilliant nonsense and deliciously mad dialogue. With his best lines ("What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?") he is never less than intensely quotable.

Alice encounters the caterpillar in another Tenniel illustration. Photograph: Alamy

As well as the enchantment of Carroll's prose, both volumes of Alice contain numerous songs and poems, many of them parodies of popular Victorian originals, which have passed into folklore, like Alice herself: You Are Old, Father William The Lobster Quadrille Beautiful Soup and (from Through the Looking-Glass) Jabberwocky The Walrus and the Carpenter and The White Knight's Song.

Finally, for 21st-century readers, it is now almost obligatory to point out that these books are pre-Freudian, with a strange, bruised innocence whose self-interrogations also evoke the tormented banality of psychoanalysis.

A note on the text

On 26 November 1865, the Reverend Charles Dodgson's tale was published by the house of Macmillan as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel, with whom Dodgson had a most uneasy relationship. Indeed, the first printing, some 2,000 copies, was withdrawn after Tenniel objected to the print quality of his drawings. A new edition, released in December of the same year, but carrying a new date, 1866, was rushed out for the Christmas market.

Later, the discarded first edition was sold with Dodgson's approval to the New York publisher, Appleton. The title page of the American Alice became an insert cancelling the original Macmillan title page of 1865, and bearing the New York publisher's imprint with the date 1866. Here, too, the first print run sold quickly. First editions are now rare and highly prized. Both Alice books have never been out of print. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into about 100 languages, including classical Latin.

Other essential Carroll Titles

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) The Hunting of the Snark, An Agony in Eight Fits (1876).

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Watch the video: Alices Adventures in Wonderland 1. Down the Rabbit Hole. Stories for Kids. Fairy Tales (January 2022).