Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive
It’s been 153 years since Charles Lutwidge Dodgson rowed up the River Isis with Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, entertaining his young companions with a story of a girl named Alice who goes off in search of an adventure. Three years later, in 1865, Dodgson’s tale (much elaborated and revised) was published as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by the political cartoonist John Tenniel.
Fast forward 150 years, and the boat trip on the Isis has given birth to a multi-million pound industry, and a multiplicity of different versions of Alice across time and space. The parodies, theme park rides, computer games, exhibitions and film, television and theatre adaptations of the tale right up until the present day stand testament to Alice’s longstanding ability to capture the imagination of children and adults alike. ‘Like Shakespearean drama or Dickensian novels’, Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens write in their publishing history, ‘the Alice books, and the myths surrounding them, have become a part of our literary and cultural imagination, and as such have an influence and reach that is difficult to isolate or delimit’ (Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: A Publishing History, 2013, p. 156).
As Alice’s imaginary universe continues to expand and diversify, so too does scholarly interest in Alice Liddell’s alter ego and her fictional Wonderland. Carroll’s creation has given rise to academic studies on the work’s relationship with material culture, gender, theatre, adaptation, science, philosophy, politics, religion – even intellectual property, mathematics and psychoanalysis.
Those interested in the origins of Alice in Wonderland should visit the British Library’s website. The precursor to Alice In Wonderland (Called Alice Under Ground) has been in their possession since 1948 and they have now made the manuscript available for all to browse online. This edition is unique in that it was created by Charles Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll) as a gift for Alice Liddell in 1864 rather than for publication, which he adapted it for a year later.