On 4 July 1862 the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a professor of mathematics at Christ Church College, Oxford, set out on a rowing expedition up the Thames. With him on his rowing trip were the three young daughters of the University’s Vice-Chancellor. The middle child was Alice Liddell, then aged 10. The details of the rowing trip itself are recorded on folio 15 of his diary but the page opposite records why the trip turned out to be so important in the history of English literature. As he rowed up the river Dodgson began to tell the girls a story about a bored child called Alice who follows a white rabbit and ends up having a series of surreal adventures. The story, as recorded in Dodgson’s diary, was initially called ‘Alice’s Adventures Under Ground’. One year later, under his pen name of Lewis Carroll, the story was published in an expanded form with the new title Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The original manuscript of ‘Alice’s Adventure’s Under Ground’ was ultimately presented to Alice Liddell herself, with the dedication: ‘A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day’.
On which occasion I told them the fairy-tale of “Alice's Adventures Under Ground," which I undertook to write out for Alice, & which is now finished (as to the text) though the pictures are not yet nearly done - Feb. 10. 1863
nor yet - Mar. 12. 1864.
“Alice's Hour in Elfland”? June 9/64.
“Alice's Adventures in Wonderland”? June 28.
- Article by:
- Kimberley Reynolds
- The novel 1832 - 1880, Childhood and children's literature
Professor Kimberley Reynolds explores how Lewis Carroll transformed logic, literary traditions and ideas about childhood into the superbly inventive and irreverent Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.