‘150 Years with Alice’

26th Nov 1865 saw the publication of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and in the 150 years since it has never been out of print. Whether you’ve read the book,  just watched the Disney movie, delighted in the illustrations – by everyone from Ralph Steadman and Peter Blake to Salvador Dali – or got high listening to Grace Slick singing ‘White Rabbit’, you certainly couldn’t have avoided Lewis Carroll’s foray into the written word?
‘Alice’ was a game changer in children’s literature, prior to her appearance stories for children were thinly disguised parables of morality used to keep children in check, well behaved, seen and not heard. But in Alice Victorian children were given a realistic contemporary in an entirely surrealistic setting of fun, nonsense and menace.

In 1865 British art gave us the Pre-Raphealite brotherhood, across the channel they were still 5 years away from Impressionism, the very word ‘surrealism’ was not coined until 1917 and it was almost another 70 years before dripping clocks and lobster telephones put in an appearance. In this context it’s fair to say that Carroll didn’t take his inspiration from the visual arts of the day, and that his work is the product of a truly inventive and creative mind? I like to think he owed more to the Victorian’s passion for travel, exploration and love of collecting exotic species and curios, as well as his own background as mathematician Charles Dodgson.