Alice in Wonderland was first published in 1865, and this year marks the 150-year anniversary of the celebrated children’s tale. What you may not know, is that the story originated three years earlier on a beautiful summer afternoon. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (also known by the penname Lewis Carroll) and Robinson Duckworth were rowing the Liddell sisters—Alice, Lorina, and Edith—up the River Thames for a picnic. Carroll was always willing to tell a story, and “he sent his heroine ‘straight down a rabbit-hole, to begin with, without the least idea what was to happen afterwards,’ and the narrative of Wonderland emerged over the long afternoon.” Alice, who was ten-years-old at the time, asked for a written copy of the story at the end of the day.
In 1864 the manuscript, “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground,” was given to Alice. Since then, the story about a seven year old girl who tumbles down a rabbit hole into a world we grew up knowing as Wonderland, with its mad cast of characters, has been adapted numerous times on stage in the theater, film, and on. The book has never been out of print in the 150 years since its birth, and has had an enormous impact on children’s literature.
In honor of this landmark anniversary, The Morgan Library has a new and unique exhibition, “Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland.” For the first time in decades, the original manuscript will be on display next to original drawings, letters, rare editions, vintage photographs, and fascinating objects, many never before exhibited.
Above, the original manuscript of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Tenniel’s original illustrations.
The Morgan’s exhibition is truly a wonderland, “a biography of the book ... the story of the story,” Curator Carolyn Vega said. The manuscript sits in the center of the gallery, enclosed in a glass case.
Technology, with what it is today, allows you to see Carroll’s original manuscript converted to a digital version on a touch screen. Despite the fact that Carroll wasn’t known as an artist, there is a nostalgic and whimsical feeling to his hand drawn expressions of Alice and company. Carroll’s sketches served as inspiration for John Tenniel’s drawings that introduced us all to Alice.
Off with her Head! (1885)
Carroll’s tale of Alice In Wonderland is full of joy, whimsy, innocence and fantasy. Go see this special exhibition and dial back to the days of bedtime stories.
Come see Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland from
June 16th – October 11th!
Buy your tickets here…
The Morgan Library
225 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
By Lewis Carroll
Macmillan & Co. (1888)