Wearing Many Hats:
A Cultural Map of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Curiouser and Curiouser...The Beginning of Alice's Adventures

The story of Alice began on the banks of a lake during a summer trip.  Charles Lutwig Dodgson (Lewis Carroll's real name) began telling the story of a precocious young girl at the request of one of his friends' daughters--one Miss Alice Liddell.  Alice requested a story full of nonsense...and the story of Wonderland was what she heard.  As Dodgson tried to end the story, but his audience protested.  So, the story continued on and on during the rest of the summer trip. The seeds for Alice and it's subsequent volumes were planted.  Alice loved the stories so much that she asked her friend to write them down for her.  Dodgson did the original sketches and they were given to Alice Liddell as a Christmas gift in November of 1864. Their original title was Alice Under Ground.

"Later, Dodgson’s friend and novelist Henry Kingsley saw the manuscript and encouraged him to publish the book. Dodgson asked advice from his other friend, George MacDonald, an author of children's stories. Macdonald took the manuscript home to read it to his children, and his six-year-old son Greville declared that he "wished there were 60,000 copies of it", so Dodgson decided to publish it. Before doing so, Dodgson revised it by cutting out the references to the previous picnic and expanded the original tale considerably; he added some chapters, altered some poems and added jokes that had occurred to him later. The first version had not included "The Caucus Race", "Pig and Pepper" and "A Mad Tea-Party". The Cheshire Cat had not been invented, the Ugly Duchess was called "the Marchioness of Mock Turtles", the part of the Mock Turtle’s schooldays lacked and the greater part of the Trial scenes was written later. The Mouse Tale was different.

Dodgson liked to draw himself, and originally wanted to use his own illustrations for the published edition, but eventually admitted that his talents lay in directions other than those of a draughtsman. On the advice of Duckworth he chose Sir John Tenniel, a cartoonist for the magazine ‘Punch’, to draw the illustrations. However, his own pictures expressed precisely his personal view of how the characters ought to look, and therefore he provided Tenniel with detailed instructions how to draw them (and drove him almost crazy by doing this).

The book was published by Macmillan on 4 July 1865, exactly 3 years after the famous boat trip."
--from Ms. Lenny de Rooy at Alice-in-Wonderland

Alice, Herself

There has been much talk and controversy regarding what the links are exactly between the Alice who listened to the stories and the Alice who was inside the stories.  The Alices are not identical to each other; it's even widely believed that the physical model for Alice in Dodgson's original drawings was Alice's sister, Edith.  But, of course, there are links:
  • The story is set on May 4th, which is Alice Liddell's birthday as well as November 4th, which would be her "half birthday."
  • The books are clearly dedicated to Alice Pleasance Liddell.
  • The poem known as "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky" is clearly an Acrostic Poem for Alice's name. Click the link to check it out!