The Genesis of Alice

Alice Liddell, photographed by Dodgson.

Windows into History… in Wonderland 2.

We have a connecting theme this month: Lewis Carroll (Rev. Charles Dodgson) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  It is not by accident that I chose July for this.  Exactly 157 years ago, on 4th July 1862, Dodgson went on one of his many boat trips with little Alice Liddell and her sisters, the daughters of a friend and colleague of his, and improvised much of the Alice story.  The following quote is Alice’s own account of the day, as quoted in The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll, written by Dodgon’s nephew Stuart Dodgson Collingwood and published in 1898:

Most of Mr. Dodgson’s stories were told to us on river expeditions to Nuneham or Godstow, near Oxford. My eldest sister, now Mrs. Skene, was “Prima,” I was ”Secunda,” and “Tertia” was my sister Edith. I believe the beginning of “Alice” was told one summer afternoon when the sun was so burning that we had landed in the meadows down the river, deserting the boat to take refuge in the only bit of shade to be found, which was under a new-made hayrick. Here from all three came the old petition of “Tell us a story,” and so began the ever-delightful tale. Sometimes to tease us – and perhaps being really tired – Mr. Dodgson would stop suddenly and say, “And that’s all till next time.” “Ah, but it is next time,” would be the exclamation from all three; and after some persuasion the story would start afresh. Another day, perhaps, the story would begin in the boat, and Mr. Dodgson, in the middle of telling a thrilling adventure, would pretend to go fast asleep, to our great dismay.

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About Roger Pocock

Author of Co-writer on Editor of
This entry was posted in 19th Century, Alice in Wonderland, Books, Britain, England, History, Memoirs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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