This manuscript - one of the British Library's best - loved treasures - is the
original version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll,
the pen-name of Charles Dodgson, an Oxford mathematician.
Dodgson was fond of children and became friends with Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, the young daughters
of the Dean of his 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. It took him some time to write out the tale -
in a tiny, neat hand - and complete the 37 illustrations. Alice finally received
the 90-page book, dedicated to 'a dear child, in memory of a summer day', in
Urged by friends to publish
the story, Dodgson re-wrote and enlarged it, removing some of the private family
references and adding two new chapters. The published version was illustrated
by the artist John Tenniel.
Many years later, Alice
was forced to sell her precious manuscript at auction. It was bought by an American
collector, but returned to England in 1948 when a group of American benefactors
presented it to the British Library in appreciation of the British people's
role in the Second World War.