Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: About the Book and Author


by Lewis Carroll

About the Book and Author


This work is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago. Translations or editions published later may be copyrighted.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a work of literary nonsense written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Carroll, Lewis, (1832-1898), considered a classic example of the genre and of English literature in general. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit-hole into a fantastic realm populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures.

The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends (and enemies), and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize. The tale plays with logic in ways that have made the story of lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense, and its narrative course and structure has been enormously influential, mainly in the fantasy genre (see Works influenced by Alice in Wonderland).

The book is commonly referred to by the abbreviated title Alice in Wonderland. This alternative title was popularized by the numerous 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.

Alice's Adventures in
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Title page of the original
edition (1865)
Author Charles "Lewis Carroll" Dodgson
Illustrator John Tenniel
Country England
Language English
Genre(s) Children's fiction
Publisher Macmillan
Media type Print
Followed by Through the Looking-Glass (And What Alice Found There)
Facsimile page from Alice's Adventures Under Ground
Facsimile page from
Alice's Adventures Under Ground



Alice was first published on 4 July 1865, exactly three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames with three little girls:

The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford, England 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 manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground. 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 (Gardner, 1965), but there is no known prima facie evidence to support this.

But before Alice received her copy, MS Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 18,000-word original to 35,000 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 destroyed because Tenniel had objections over the print quality. (Only 23 copies are known to have survived; 18 are owned by major archives or libraries, such as the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, while the other five are held in private hands.) A new edition, released in December of the same year but carrying an 1866 date, was quickly printed.

The entire print run sold out quickly. Alice was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. Among its first avid readers were young Oscar Wilde and Queen Victoria. The book has never been out of print. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into 125 languages, including Esperanto and Faroese. There have now been over a hundred editions of the book, as well as countless adaptations in other media, especially theatre and film.

Publishing highlights


cover of the 1898 edition
cover of the 1898 edition

Chapter 1: Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice is sitting by her sister lazily and became a bit tired, and she sees a White Rabbit in a waistcoat carrying a watch. She follows it down a rabbit hole, and falls down a very long chamber full of strange things on shelves. After landing safely on the ground, she goes into a long hallway with a glass table with a gold key. Alice opens up a curtain and finds a small door, which the key fits in perfectly, and behind it is a beautiful garden, but she can't fit in. Alice then finds a small bottle labeled "DRINK ME," and drinks it. The drink causes her to shrink. Alice accidentally leaves the key on the table, and with her diminished stature can no longer reach it and becomes very scared. She then sees a cake that says "EAT ME," and proceeds to eat it.

Chapter 2: The Pool of Tears

The consumption of the cake makes Alice grow to be 9 feet tall. She cries, creating a pool of tears. The White Rabbit comes into the hallway, and is so frightened he drops his fan and kid-gloves. Alice then fans herself with his fan and kid-gloves, causing her to shrink again, but she stops before she goes out altogether. She swims through the pool of tears she had cried when she was larger, and finds a mouse who is awfully scared of cats. They wash up onto a bank, where they meet many birds and animals, who are also soaking wet.

Chapter 3: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale

A Dodo decides that the birds and animals should dry off with a Caucus Race, which has no rules except to run in a circle. After half an hour or so, the race ends and everyone wins, which means they all get prizes. Alice gives out her comfits as the prizes, and the Mouse tells Alice his long and sad tale of why he hates cats, which Alice misinterprets as "tail." The chapter ends with Alice alienating the participants of the race, resulting in her being left alone once again.

Chapter 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

The White Rabbit mistakes Alice for his house maid, Mary Ann. He asks her to fetch a pair of gloves and a fan. Alice goes in to his house, and she finds a bottle. Though not labeled DRINK ME she drinks it anyway. The drink now makes her grow so big that she blocks the entrance and the White Rabbit is no longer able to get into the house. The White Rabbit asks a lizard named Bill to get her out. Bill climbs in through the chimney, but is kicked out by Alice's giant leg that is stuck there. The White Rabbit then decides out loud that house should be burned down, where Alice then responds fervently "If you do I'll set Dinah at you!", Dinah being a young kitten that Alice owns. Silence follows and then chatter about 'A barrowful will do, to begin with' followed by a shower of little pebbles being thrown through the window. The pebbles quickly turn into small cakes and Alice swallows one, suddenly causing her to shrink again to her earlier size. Back down to size Alice makes her way out of the house to find a small crowd of assorted animals, who in turn make a rush toward Alice when they see her. Quickly retreating into the nearby thick wood she finds herself confronted by an enormous puppy (note that Alice is merely a few inches tall at this time) and plays fetch with the puppy, tiring him into sleep. She rests for a moment herself, looking around and spotting a mushroom growing near her, she examines all angles of the mushroom and decides to have a peek at what might be on top of it. As she stands tiptoe and looks, her eyes meet with the ones of a blue Caterpillar, who is sitting arms folded quietly smoking a hookah.

Chapter 5: Advice from a Caterpillar

Alice asks how she can get bigger, but the Caterpillar asks her to recite "Old Father William" instead. After doing so (with a few errors), the Caterpillar tells her that one side of the mushroom will make her bigger and the other side will make her smaller. The Caterpillar disappears leaving Alice all alone. Alice first tries the right side, which makes her chin get stuck to her foot. Then she tries the left side, which makes her neck grow very long. A pigeon flies into her face, believing she is a serpent, but Alice tells her that she is a little girl. She then eats different sides of the mushroom and gets back to her usual height.

Chapter 6: Pig and Pepper

Now at her right size, Alice comes upon a house with a Frog-Footman and a Fish-Footman in front. The Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess, which he delivers to the Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, goes into the house and meets The Duchess, The Cook, The Baby, and The Duchess's Cheshire-Cat. The Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup which has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess and the baby, but not the cook or the Cheshire-Cat, to sneeze. The Duchess tosses her baby up and down while reciting the poem "Speak roughly to your little boy." When the poem is over, The Duchess gives Alice the baby while she leaves to go play croquet with the Queen. To Alice's surprise, the baby later turns into a pig, so she lets it go off into the woods. The Cheshire-Cat then appears in a tree, telling her about the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. He then disappears, his grin remaining behind to float on its own in the air.

Chapter 7: A Mad Tea Party

Alice becomes a guest at a mad tea party, along with the Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse. In the course of the party, Alice reveals that the date is May 4 (which happens to be the birthday of her presumed real-life counterpart, Alice Pleasance Liddell). The other characters give Alice many riddles and stories, until she becomes so insulted that she leaves, claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to. Alice comes upon a door in a tree, and enters it, and finds herself back in the long hallway. She opens the door, eats part of her mushroom, and shrinks so she can get into the beautiful garden.

Chapter 8: The Queen's Croquet Ground

Now in the beautiful garden, she comes upon 3 cards painting the roses on a rose tree red, for they accidentally planted a white-rose tree which the Queen of Hearts hates. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit comes into the garden. She meets the violent Queen of Hearts and the less violent King of Hearts. The Queen tells the executioner to chop off the three card gardeners' heads.

A game of croquet begins, with flamingos as the mallets and hedgehogs as the balls. The Queen condemns more people to death, and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat, who asks her how the queen is. The Queen of Hearts then tries to find out how they can chop off the Cheshire Cat's head, even though he is only a floating head. Alice asks her about the Duchess, so the Queen asks the executioner to get the Duchess out of prison.

Chapter 9: The Mock Turtle's story

The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground. She is now less angry and is always trying to find morals in things (she claims the pepper made her angry.) The Queen of Hearts then shows Alice 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 turtle, which The Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.

Chapter 10: The Lobster Quadrille

The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon start dancing to the Lobster Quadrille, singing "Tis the Voice of the Lobster." The Mock Turtle then sings "Beautiful Soup" during which Alice and The Gryphon have to leave for a trial while The Mock Turtle continues singing.

Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts?

At the trial, the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the tarts. The jury box is made up of twelve animals, including Bill the Lizard, and the judge is the King of Hearts. The first witness is the Mad Hatter, who doesn't help the case at all. The next witness though, is Alice.

Chapter 12: Alice's Evidence

Alice eats part of the mushroom, causing her to grow and accidentally knocks over the Jury Box. The Queen of Hearts is about to sentence them to death, but Alice calls them all just a pack of cards, causing them to swirl around her and turn into dead leaves. Alice's sister wakes her up, since it was all a dream. Alice tells her sister all about the strange dream she had just awoken from.

Characters in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

"The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo"

Alice surrounded by the characters of Wonderland in The Nursery "Alice" (1890)
Peter Newell's illustration of Alice surrounded by the characters of Wonderland. (1890)

Poems and songs

Cinematic adaptations

Alice in Disney's animated version
Alice in Alice in Wonderland (1951 film) Disney's animated version

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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