by Peter Hunt
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2020
Paper: 978-1-85124-532-1
Library of Congress Classification PR4612.H84 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 823.809


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are two of the most famous, translated, and quoted books in the world. What began as a simple tale told by eccentric Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) to Alice Liddell, daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, become a worldwide phenomenon. Fostering film adaptations and retellings, and influencing countless other works, the Alice books have a deeply cherished place in popular culture. Known for their oddities and absurdities, the books have been endlessly interpreted and analyzed for symbolism and hidden messages.

Peter Hunt cuts away the psychological speculation that has grown up around the Alice books, and instead traces the historical sources of their multilayered in-jokes and political, literary, and philosophical satire. He situates the books in the history of children’s literature and explores the local and personal references that the real Alice would have understood. Equally fascinating are the rich fragments about everything from the “sensation” novel to Darwinian theory—not to mention Dodgson’s personal feelings—that he wove into the books as they developed.

Illustrated with manuscripts, portraits, Sir John Tenniel’s original line drawings for the first editions, and contemporary photographs, this is an innovative look at two remarkable stories. The Making of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and the Invention of Wonderland takes us on a guided tour from the treacle wells of Victorian Oxford through an astonishing world of politics, philosophy, humor, and nightmare.