"When we all think alike, then no one is thinking."
— Walter Lippman

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The "Alice" stories were written for the young daughter of the Liddell family with whom Charles Dodgson was friends in the mid 1850s.            
Having told the story and been begged by Alice Liddell to write it down, Dodgson eventually presented her with a handwritten, hand illustrated copy of the manuscript entitled Alice's Adventures Under Ground in November 1864.
The work was later published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 under the pen name Lewis Carroll which Dodgson had begun using some years before.  The illustrations this time were by Sir John Tenniel as Dodgson thought that a published book would need the skills of a professional artist.   
There are several interesting speculations about the relationship between author and muse, and the later split between Dodgson and the Liddell family.  You can learn more about the intriguing story from the many online resources.
The original book ends with a poem titled A Boat Beneath Sunny Skies.  The first letter of each line of the poem spells out Alice Pleasance Liddell.   

A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky 
by Lewis Carroll

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear —

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream?


Robert W. Leonard said...

Very interesting information! I've been getting a closer look at his life and books lately myself. I just finished re-reading Alice and Through the Looking Glass as well. Now I'm going to have to go read more I think. :)

Sharon P said...

Tennial was also a political cartoonist -- kind of like having Oliphant illustrate a "children's" book today. That should tell you something about the book! The Annotated Alice, so annotated by Martin Gardner, offers wonderful insights into the adult world he was satirizing in those books -- and the originals of the rhymes and such he was spoofing.

Ann Renee Lighter said...

Thanks for your comments and insights.
I enjoy history and knowing the background stories about people and places.
There is extensive information about Sir John Tenniel and a large selection of his political cartoons online also.
One very good resource for biographical information on Dodgson is the Lewis Carroll Society website. Wikipedia also has quite a bit of information. Although I can't create direct links to these sites in the comment box here, they are easily found in a general search by subject.
If you search Alice Liddell, there are more pictures of her available at different stages of her life.

andrea creates said...

How interesting!I knew a tiny bit but not all of this information.I always love the behind the scenes/making of and biographies of the creators and particapnts almost more than the stories themselves!
Off to do some research :)
Have a great weekend~

Jenny Woolf said...

Thanks so much for posting your brilliant Cheshire cat on the Mystery of Lewis Carroll FB page, - I went straight to your blog to see your other work. It's fascinating. Was wondering if you would let me reproduce your cat on my blog ?.
Tenniel was indeed a most unusual choice for illustrator, and Lewis Carroll showed amazing self belief in hiring him to illustrate his book because Tenniel was mighty expensive. Carroll paid Tenniel about 1/4 of his annual salary and that was on top of the costs of printing the book himself - it's not generally known he was a kind of Victorian version of a self publisher! It was all a major leap in the dark for him.... inspiring to those of us who have stories in us I guess...

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