Right before I left for England in 2007, I read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Both absolute classics, I became obsessed with them (as I do with any really good book), and made it a mission, just like with Jane Austen, to see as much as I could involving Lewis Carroll and Alice while I lived in England. I made two trips to Oxford, where Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) both attended and taught at Christ Church, one of the colleges that make up the University of Oxford.
It was here that Charles Dodgson came up with the famous Alice tales-through making up logical, but nonsensical stories for the Dean’s daughters in the summer of 1862. Alice Liddell, the girl who formed the basis of Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, asked for these verbally woven tales to be written down, so she and her sisters could remember their summer stories at a later date. Two years later, in 1864, Dodgson presented Alice with his compilation of the stories he could remember in the form of ‘Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.’ (If you’re curious, the British Library has scanned and provided a virtual copy of the original, with Carroll’s own pen and ink drawings online for those who wish to see it!)
After much persuasion, and some connections with a children’s publisher, Dodgson published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, just seven months after the first manuscript was given to Alice Liddell.
Shortly after I came home from England, I found a copy of Lewis Carroll’s works at one of the AAUW sales in Roanoke, and while it’s not remarkably pretty on the outside, or even the inside, there are a few really neat things about this book.
The first is that there’s an inscription inside:
I love it, because not only does it rhyme, but it’s quite clever, as well!
The second really neat thing is that both Alice and the Looking Glass have the beautiful illustrations from John Tenniel.
And finally, the third neat thing about this book is that it’s not only Alice and the Looking Glass, but it’s ALL of Lewis Carroll’s works. And not only stories, poems, or even satirical reports Carroll wrote for his work at Christchurch, there’s several riddles and puzzles as well. Can you figure out this riddle in ‘Puzzles from Wonderland?’
Dreaming of apples on a wall,
And dreaming often, dear,
I dreamed that, if I counted all,
–How many would appear?
Or can you figure this one out?
John gave his brother James a box.
About it there were many locks.
James woke and said it gave him pain;
So gave it back to John again.
The box was not with lid supplied
Yet caused two lids to open wide:
And all these locks had never a key-
What kind of a box, then, could it be?
Look for the answers to both of these riddles in Friday’s post!