Its been 153 years since Lewis Carroll’s children’s novel was published and its safe to say it has proved to be one of the most popular books ever written. Whether its the memorable characters, its nonsensical plot or quotable lines its hard not to fall in love with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And since its release it has been translated into 176 languages and never been out of print.
It all started on a boat trip down the Thames
Alice is named after Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, Carroll’s boss at the time. Carroll was accompanying Alice and her two sisters on a boat trip down the Thames in 1862 when he told them the story for the first time. Carroll never intended to write it down but like most children Alice begged to hear the story again and again, he eventually turned it into a written novel and gave it to Alice as an early Christmas present in 1864. (Which is now on display in the British Library)
1860 – Alice Liddell (Aged 7)
By the time Carroll had self published the final version in 1865 it had doubled in length, new scenes with the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter added.
Not all plain Sailing
It was originally titled Alice’s Adventures Underground and before its final title other ideas included Alice’s Adventures in Elf land and Alice among the Fairies.
Its original illustrator John Tenniel was so appalled at how badly his drawings had been reproduced Carroll scrapped the entire edition, spending more than half his annual salary to get it reprinted leaving him in a financial hole before the book even came out. Luckily once published Alice enjoyed instant success with fans including Queen Victoria and Oscar Wilde.
Imagination and Innocence
Whilst some would like to delve into Alice’s world and claim its full of symbolic interpretations and hidden meanings Carroll insisted this was not the case. Lewis Carroll suffered from a neurological disease that caused hallucinations, which could have attributed to the book. He was a mathematician and his work definitely comes through in subtle ways, but it seems a waste to over analyse the whole story. Alice’s childlike mannerisms to eat or drink what she see’s and absent mindedness during the chess match which she could have won at least twice are part of the fun. From the start of the story and her curiosity to follow the rabbit right to the end in which she realises it was a dream Alice’s adventure captivates me every time and its easy to see why its so popular still to this day.