Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865, and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, and what Alice found there (1871) were two of the high-points of Victorian children’s literature. The story of their origin is almost as well known as the books themselves. Dodgson was fond of children and became friends with Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, the young daughters of the Dean of his Oxford college, Christ Church. One summer's day in 1862 he entertained them on a boat trip with a story of Alice's adventures in a magical world entered through a rabbit-hole. The ten-year-old Alice was so entranced that she begged him to write it down for her.
The book was an immediate critical and popular success. At Dodgson’s death, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland had sold over 86,000 copies and Through the Looking Glass 61,000. Both have remained in print ever since, and have been translated into over 70 languages.
This version of Alice in Wonderland, from 1890, was aimed at under-fives, reflecting the continued expansion of the children’s literature market. Although Dodgson sometimes claimed that he regretted the popularity of the books, and the celebrity that it bought him, he shortened and adapted Alice for this new version himself.
Part of the success of the original was due to the illustrations by Sir John Tenniel (1820–1914). This version included 20 of those originals, coloured and enlarged. Though over 150 artists have illustrated the stories in various editions appearing since copyright expired in 1907, Tenniel’s remain the best-known.