Alice: Born on the 4th of July

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TeaInstead of lighting fireworks this 4th of July, why not follow the rabbit hole down Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? On July 4, 1862, Lewis Carroll first told the tale.

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodson, a mathematician at Christ Church constituent college of the University of Oxford. Dodson published in magazines, but used Carroll for his poem “Solitude” in The Train in 1856.

That year saw Henry Liddell become the dean at Christ Church. Dodgson grew close to the Liddell family. On July 4, 1862, he took a boat trip with the daughters Lorina, Edith and Alice. During the trip, he entertained the girls with the story that would become Alice. It was Alice Liddell who would urge him to write it down. Never the most diligent worker, he began writing on November 13, 1862, and finished it on February 10, 1863. He presented a handwritten copy to Alice in November 1864.

Family friend and author George MacDonald read the work in progress. He took it to publishers Macmillan & Co. who published it in 1865 with illustrations by John Tenniel.

Due to its success, Dodgson followed Alice with Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice found there. He began writing it in 1869 and it was published with more Tenniel illustrations in 1871. His nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark was published in 1876.

peekDodgson’s photographs of nude girls have caused some fireworks. Sickly and stammering, he preferred the company of children. His nephew and biographer Stuart Dodgson Collingwood attributes this to the pedantic nature of a teacher. Dodgson’s pictures included men, women, skeletons, landscapes and nude or semi-nude girls. It should be noted that their parents accompanied them when the pictures were taken.

As he ended Through the Looking-glass, “What do you think it was?”

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