Celebrating Alice

On the 27th of this month, we celebrate the 184th birthday of one of the most influential writers to grace children’s literature … the Rev. Charles Lutwitdge Dodgson. But most of us know him better under his super secret superhero/pen name: Lewis Carroll.

annotated aliceBorn in 1832 into a conservative and religious family, Carroll’s father, a parish priest, married his first cousin and had 11 children. Carroll was the eldest boy, the family entertainer, and even though he had a stammer, he was a practiced storyteller for his brothers and sisters and a brilliant student.

Carroll had an affinity for children and collected “Child Friends” throughout his lifetime that raised some eyebrows, even in Victorian times, when the age of consent was 14. This otherwise dry, methodical, punctilious and orderly man preferred them to his adult peers, thinking of them as a refuge from adults and his duties as a Don of Mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford.  He came alive before children, inspired by their innocence and mere presence. And most especially by the presence of one little girl in particular: Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Before you  think about comparing him to another famous entertainer and child-afficiando, his biographers have described him as a man who held himself to high moral standards. Although Carroll never attained full priesthood, he did take his holy orders, and in Victorian times, a clergyman having children over for tea wasn’t considered especially scandalous. He simply loved the innocence of childhood.

alicegraphicnovelOn a scorching hot July 4th in 1862 on the river Thames, he was, as usual, hanging out with Alice Liddell and her sisters. As they begged for a story, he unwillingly told them the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He hadn’t written a single word down, and it was only after Liddell’s incessant nagging that Carroll did finally put pen to paper (because kids are amazing at reminding grownups what they should be doing). So can I get all of you take a second out of your day to thank Ms. Liddell? It’s only because of her that generations of artists, photographers and writers were able to be influenced by this wonderful work of imagination. Let’s hear an amen to that!

The Library has loads of books based off of Mr. Carroll’s works. Let’s take a look at just a few of the awesome titles:

Share your favorite Alice spin-offs or tributes in the comments!



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5 responses to “Celebrating Alice

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Alice | sweatingthewriting

  2. I just went to an author talk by David Day for his new book ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Decoded’. It’s a full text version of the book surrounded by info about the Lewis Carroll, historically significant things that influenced the book, character sketches, etc. It looks really interesting.

  3. I think almost every fantasy author, nowadays, has their own Alice! Mine is named Mally Malbith, and she goes down a trap-door beneath an oak tree, into the magical land of Banbanoxé.
    See? Everybody has their own Alice! :)

  4. Though I’ve never read the original Alice books (I’ve been meaning to, really), I like the concepts and characters. I enjoy all the different takes on Alice in Wonderland people have created. To jump a bit outside of books, one tribute I especially like is a video game called American McGee’s Alice and the sequel Alice: Madness Returns. The games are a bit dark but witty and have (especially the first) deep symbolism and meanings behind their levels. If you’re into gaming and like Alice, I’d suggest giving these a go.

  5. Pingback: January Recap | Eleventh Stack

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