|Alice's Adventures in Wonderland|
Title page of the original edition (1865)
|Publication date||26 November 1865|
|Followed by||Through the Looking-Glass|
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll . It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the "literary nonsense" genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre.
The three girls were the daughters of Henry George Liddell, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church as well as headmaster of Westminster School. Most of the book's adventures were based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church, e.g., the "Rabbit Hole" which symbolized the actual stairs in the back of the main hall in Christ Church. It is believed that a carving of a griffon and rabbit, as seen in Ripon Cathedral, where Carroll's father was a canon, provided inspiration for the tale.
The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. To while away time the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that, not so coincidentally, featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure.
The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. After a lengthy delay — over two years — he eventually did so and on 26 November 1864 gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself. Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson himself when he printed a more elaborate copy by hand, but there is no known prima facie evidence to support this.
But before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party. In 1865, Dodgson's tale was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by "Lewis Carroll" with illustrations by John Tenniel. The first print run of 2,000 was held back because Tenniel objected to the print quality. A new edition, released in December of the same year, but carrying an 1866 date, was quickly printed. As it turned out, the original edition was sold with Dodgson's permission to the New York publishing house of Appleton. The binding for the Appleton Alice was virtually identical to the 1866 Macmillan Alice, except for the publisher's name at the foot of the spine. The title page of the Appleton Alice was an insert cancelling the original Macmillan title page of 1865, and bearing the New York publisher's imprint and the date 1866.
The entire print run sold out quickly. Alice was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. Among its first avid readers were Queen Victoria and the young Oscar Wilde. The book has never been out of print. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into 125 languages. There have now been over a hundred editions of the book, as well as countless adaptations in other media, especially theatre and film.
The book is commonly referred to by the abbreviated title Alice in Wonderland, an alternative title popularized by the numerous stage, film and television adaptations of the story produced over the years. Some printings of this title contain both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and, What Alice Found There.
Chapter 1-Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice is bored sitting on the riverbank with her sister, when she sees a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit, but through which she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle labelled "DRINK ME", the contents of which cause her to shrink too small to reach the key. A cake with "EAT ME" on it causes her to grow to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling.
Chapter 2-The Pool of Tears: Alice is unhappy and cries and her tears flood the hallway. Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him but all she can think of talking about is her cat, which offends the mouse.
Chapter 3-The Caucus Race and a Long Tale: The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away. Alice and the other animals convene on the bank and the question among them is how to get dry again. The mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Alice eventually frightens all the animals away, unwittingly, by talking about her cat.
Chapter 4-The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill: The White Rabbit appears again in search of the Duchess's gloves and fan. He orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve them, but once she gets inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes which when Alice eats them reduce her once again in size.
Chapter 5-Advice from a Caterpillar: Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a Caterpillar smoking a hookah. The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. Before crawling away, the caterpillar tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her usual height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.
Chapter 6-Pig and Pepper: A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, lets herself into the house. The Duchess's Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup which has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess and her baby (but not the cook or her grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. Alice is given the baby by the Duchess and to her surprise, the baby turns into a pig.
Chapter 7-A Mad Tea Party: The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare's house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat. Alice becomes a guest at a "mad" tea party along with the Hatter (now more commonly known as the Mad Hatter), the March Hare, and a sleeping Dormouse who remains asleep for most of the chapter. The other characters give Alice many riddles and stories. The Mad Hatter reveals that they have tea all day because time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time). Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.
Chapter 8-The Queen's Croquet Ground: Alice leaves the tea party and enters the garden where she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because the Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen. The Queen, a figure difficult to please, introduces her trademark phrase "Off with his head!" which she utters at the slightest dissatisfaction with a subject.
Alice is invited (or some might say ordered) to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then orders the Cat to be beheaded, only to have her executioner complain that this is impossible since the head is all that can be seen of him. Because the cat belongs to the Duchess, the Queen is prompted to release the Duchess from prison to resolve the matter.
Chapter 9-The Mock Turtle's Story: The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground at Alice's request. She ruminates on finding morals in everything around her. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which The Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.
Chapter 10-Lobster Quadrille: The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster". The Mock Turtle sings them "Beautiful Soup" during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.
Chapter 11-Who Stole the Tarts?: Alice attends a trial whereby the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court's trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger. The dormouse scolds Alice and tells her she has no right to grow at such a rapid pace and take up all the air. Alice scoffs and calls the dormouse's accusation ridiculous because everyone grows and she can't help it. Meanwhile witnesses at the trial include the Mad Hatter, who displeases and frustrates the King through his indirect answers to the questioning, and the Duchess's cook.
Chapter 12-Alice's Evidence: Alice is then called up as a witness. She accidentally knocks over the jury box with the animals inside them and the King orders the animals be placed back into their seats before the trial continues. The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 ("All persons more than a mile high to leave the court"), but Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar "Off with her head!" but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards. Alice's sister wakes her up for tea, brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice's face. Alice leaves her sister on the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.
Although the Jabberwock is often thought to be a character in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it actually only appears in the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass. It is, however, often included in film versions, which are usually simply called "Alice in Wonderland", causing the confusion. The Queen of Hearts is commonly mistaken for the Red Queen who appears in the story's sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, but shares none of her characteristics other than being a queen. The Queen of Hearts is part of the deck of card imagery which is present in the first book while the Red Queen is representative of a red chess piece, as chess is the theme present in the sequel. Many adaptations have mixed the characters, causing much confusion.
The members of the boating party that first heard Carroll's tale all show up in Chapter 3 ("A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale") in one form or another. There is, of course, Alice Liddell herself, while Carroll, or Charles Dodgson, is caricatured as the Dodo. Carroll is known as the Dodo because Dodgson stuttered when he spoke, thus if he spoke his last name it would be Do-Do-Dodgson. The Duck refers to Canon Duckworth, the Lory to Lorina Liddell, and the Eaglet to Edith Liddell (Alice Liddell's sisters).
Bill the Lizard may be a play on the name of Benjamin Disraeli. One of Tenniel's illustrations in Through the Looking-Glass depicts the character referred to as the "Man in White Paper" (whom Alice meets as a fellow passenger riding on the train with her), as a caricature of Disraeli, wearing a paper hat. The illustrations of the Lion and the Unicorn also bear a striking resemblance to Tenniel's Punch illustrations of Gladstone and Disraeli.
The Hatter is most likely a reference to Theophilus Carter, a furniture dealer known in Oxford for his unorthodox inventions. Tenniel apparently drew the Hatter to resemble Carter, on a suggestion of Carroll's. The Dormouse tells a story about three little sisters named Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie. These are the Liddell sisters: Elsie is L.C. (Lorina Charlotte), Tillie is Edith (her family nickname is Matilda), and Lacie is an anagram of Alice.
The Mock Turtle speaks of a Drawling-master, "an old conger eel", that used to come once a week to teach "Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils". This is a reference to the art critic John Ruskin, who came once a week to the Liddell house to teach the children drawing, sketching, and painting in oils. (The children did, in fact, learn well; Alice Liddell, for one, produced a number of skilled watercolours.)
The Mock Turtle also sings "Beautiful Soup". This is a parody of a song called "Star of the Evening, Beautiful Star", which was performed as a trio by Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell for Lewis Carroll in the Liddell home during the same summer in which he first told the story of Alice's Adventures Under Ground.
John Tenniel's illustrations of Alice do not portray the real Alice Liddell, who had dark hair and a short fringe. There is a persistent legend that Carroll sent Tenniel a photograph of Mary Hilton Babcock, another child-friend, but no evidence for this has yet come to light, and whether Tenniel actually used Babcock as his model is open to dispute.
The term "Wonderland", from the title, has entered the language and refers to a marvellous imaginary place, or else a real-world place that one perceives to have dream-like qualities. It, like much of the Alice work, is widely referred to in popular culture.
"Down the Rabbit-Hole", the Chapter 1 title, has become a popular term for going on an adventure into the unknown. In drug culture, "going down the rabbit hole" is a metaphor for taking hallucinogenic drugs, as Carroll's novel appears similar in form to a drug trip.
In Chapter 6, the Cheshire Cat's disappearance prompts Alice to say one of her most memorable lines: "...a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!"
In Chapter 7, the Hatter gives his famous riddle without an answer: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Although Carroll intended the riddle to have no solution, in a new preface to the 1896 edition of Alice, he proposes several answers: "Because it can produce a few notes, though… they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!" (Note the spelling of "never" as "nevar"—turning it into "raven" when inverted. This spelling, however, was "corrected" in later editions to "never" and Carroll's pun was lost.) Puzzle expert Sam Loyd offered the following solutions:
Many other answers are listed in The Annotated Alice. In Frank Beddor's novel Seeing Redd, the main antagonist, Queen Redd (a megalomaniac parody of the Queen of Hearts) meets Lewis Carroll and declares that the answer to the riddle is "Because I say so". Carroll is too terrified to contradict her.
Arguably the most famous quote is used when the Queen of Hearts screams "Off with her head!" at Alice (and everyone else she feels slightly annoyed with). Possibly Carroll here was echoing a scene in Shakespeare's Richard III (III, iv, 76) where Richard demands the execution of Lord Hastings, crying "Off with his head!"
When Alice is growing taller after eating the cake labelled "Eat me" she says, "curiouser and curiouser", a famous line that is still used today to describe an event with extraordinary wonder. The Cheshire Cat confirms to Alice "We're all mad here", a line that has been repeated for years as a result.
Since Carroll was a mathematician at Christ Church, it has been suggested that there are many references and mathematical concepts in both this story and also in Through the Looking-Glass; examples include:
It has been suggested by several people, including Martin Gardner and Selwyn Goodacre, that Dodgson had an interest in the French language, choosing to make references and puns about it in the story. It is most likely that these are references to French lessons which would have been a common feature of a Victorian middle-class girl's upbringing. For example, in the second chapter, Alice posits that the mouse may be French and chooses to speak the first sentence of her French lesson-book to it: "Où est ma chatte?" ("Where is my cat?"). In Henri Bué's French translation, Alice posits that the mouse may be Italian and speaks Italian to it.
In the second chapter, Alice initially addresses the mouse as "O Mouse", based on her vague memory of the noun declensions in her brother's textbook: "A mouse (nominative)— of a mouse (genitive)— to a mouse (dative)— a mouse (accusative)— O mouse! (vocative)." This corresponds to the traditional order that was established by Byzantine grammarians (and is still in standard use, except in the United Kingdom and some countries in Western Europe) for the five cases of Classical Greek; because of the absence of the ablative case, which Greek does not have but is found in Latin, the reference is apparently not to the latter as some have supposed.
In the eighth chapter, three cards are painting the roses on a rose tree red, because they had accidentally planted a white-rose tree which the Queen of Hearts hates. Red roses symbolized the English House of Lancaster, while white roses were the symbol for their rival House of York. Therefore, this scene may contain a hidden allusion to the Wars of the Roses.
The book has inspired numerous film and television adaptations. This list comprises only direct and complete adaptations of the original books. Sequels and works otherwise inspired by – but not actually based on – those books (such as Tim Burton's 2010 film Alice in Wonderland), appear in Works influenced by Alice in Wonderland.
The book has inspired numerous comic book adaptations.
With the immediate popularity of the book, it didn't take long for live performances to begin. One early example is Alice in Wonderland, a musical play by H. Saville Clark (book) and Walter Slaughter (music), which played in 1886 at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.
As the book and its sequel are Carroll's most widely recognized works, they have also inspired numerous live performances, including plays, operas, ballets, and traditional English pantomimes. These works range from adaptations which are fairly faithful to the original book to those which use the story as a basis for new works. A good example of the latter is The Eighth Square, a murder mystery set in Wonderland, written by Matthew Fleming and music and lyrics by Ben J. Macpherson. This goth-toned rock musical premiered in 2006 at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth, England. The TA Fantastika, a popular Black light theatre in Prague performs "Aspects of Alice"; written and directed by Petr Kratochvíl. This adaptation is not faithful to the books, but rather explores Alice's journey into adulthood while incorporating allusions to the history of Czech Republic.
Over the years, many notable people in the performing arts have been involved in Alice productions. Actress Eva Le Gallienne famously adapted both Alice books for the stage in 1932; this production has been revived in New York in 1947 and 1982. One of the most well-known American productions was Joseph Papp's 1980 staging of Alice in Concert at the Public Theater in New York City. Elizabeth Swados wrote the book, lyrics, and music. Based on both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Papp and Swados had previously produced a version of it at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Meryl Streep played Alice, the White Queen, and Humpty Dumpty. The cast also included Debbie Allen, Michael Jeter, and Mark Linn-Baker. Performed on a bare stage with the actors in modern dress, the play is a loose adaptation, with song styles ranging the globe. This production can be found on DVD.
Similarly, the 1992 operatic production Alice used both Alice books as its inspiration. However, it also employs scenes with Charles Dodgson, a young Alice Liddell, and an adult Alice Liddell, to frame the story. Paul Schmidt wrote the play, with Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan writing the music. Although the original production in Hamburg, Germany, received only a small audience, Tom Waits released the songs as the album Alice in 2002, to much acclaim.
In addition to professional performances, school productions abound. Both high schools and colleges have staged numerous versions of Alice-inspired performances. The imaginative story and large number of characters are well-suited to such productions.
A large-scale operatic adaptation of the story by the Korean composer Unsuk Chin to an English language libretto by David Henry Hwang received its world premiere at the Bavarian State Opera on 30 June 2007.
A new musical titled "Wonderland" made its premiere in Tampa, Florida in December of 2009
The Philadelphia composer, Joseph Hallman has written an Alice ballet and dramaturgy for Actor, flute (doubling melodica), alto saxophone, harp, percussion, and string trio with seven dancers. It was commissioned by the San Diego chamber music organization, Art of Elan, and the Colette Harding Dance Company. 
The book was generally received in a positive light, but has also caught a large amount of derision for its strange and unpredictable tone.
In 1931, the book was banned in Hunan, China, because "animals should not use human language" and it "puts animals and human beings on the same level". In Woodsville High School in Haverhill, New Hampshire, the story also was banned, because it had "expletives, references to masturbation and sexual fantasies, and derogatory characterizations of teachers and of religious ceremonies". 
Alice and the rest of Wonderland continue to inspire or influence many other works of art to this day, sometimes indirectly via the Disney movie, for example. The character of the plucky, yet proper, Alice has proven immensely popular and inspired similar heroines in literature and pop culture, many also named Alice in homage.