“Alice” Turns 150

Gabriella Pozell, Contributing Writer

Some of the best literature can come about in the most unlikely ways. That was the case for one of the most popular English children’s stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

One day, Charles L. Dodgson, more commonly known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll, was rowing young Alice Liddell and her sisters, the daughters of Henry George Liddell, to a picnic. Along the way, he entertained them by telling a story about a girl named Alice who follows a rabbit down a hole and enters into a bizarre world filled with excitement.

Some of Alice’s adventures include eating a cake that turns her into a giant, participating in a unique tea party, witnessing a “Caucus-Race,” and narrowly avoiding getting beheaded by the Queen of Hearts. She also encounters some strange characters along the way like the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Mad Hatter, and many more.

When Carroll was finished telling his story, the ten-year-old Alice Liddell requested a written copy of it. Before long, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 and became a major success. As a result of the popularity, Carroll wrote a sequel in 1871 entitled Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

150 years later, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland still appeals to young and old alike. The readers can relate to the young heroine as they watch Alice ‘grow’ over the course of the story (not just literally). The story contains relatable themes such as childhood innocence, nostalgia, and madness.

Whether you feel like Alice who is confused by the chaotic, disorderly world around her, or whether you relish in nonsense and embody the Cheshire Cat’s statement “We’re all mad here,” all sorts of readers can finding meaning in the story. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland also has a universal humor featuring Carroll’s unique style of wordplay and puns that make the story that much more enjoyable to read.

There are a variety of ways you can commemorate the anniversary of the story. One way is to check out Alicewinks, the 150th anniversary animated video edition of the story. It features a narration and 193 iconic illustrations from the early 20th century that you can watch on your mobile device.

If you find yourself in New York City, check out the Morgan Library and Museum’s exhibition entitled, “Alice: 150 Years in Wonderland.” It will be on display from June 26 to October 11, 2015. The exhibition features Carroll’s original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that came all the way from the British Library in London. It also includes original drawings, letters from Lewis Carroll, photographs, and rare editions of the book. If you cannot make the journey to New York, you can explore the library’s online exhibition to see transcripts of letters and other illustrations.

Of course, another way to celebrate is by watching Disney’s classic 1951 film Alice in Wonderland and throwing a Mad Hatter Tea Party of your own!