In August 1886 Henry Savile Clarke, a Yorkshire-born journalist also known for his work in ‘light’ literature and popular entertainment, wrote to Lewis Carroll to ask for permission to adapt Alice in Wonderland into a musical stage show. It was the first and only adaptation to which Carroll would agree. A stickler for accuracy, Carroll was actively involved in the whole process, from the adaptation of the novel to the selection of actors.
This is the published play script, which retains John Tenniel’s original illustrations. The play is split into two acts, condensing the novel considerably; the first portrays Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the second Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Rhymes were turned into songs, and, in some instances, Carroll was required to compose new lyrics. Music was composed by Walter Slaughter, a composer of musical comedy and children’s plays.
With its singing, dancing and full-costume, the play had more than an element of pantomime to it. It proved incredibly popular with families. First opened in the Christmas holidays of 1866, it was revived numerous times, often during the Christmas season, until its last run in 1927.