Celebrating 150 years 'down the rabbit hole'

Above: Alice in Wonderland exhibition at the British Library (c) Tony Antoniou

The magical story of Alice Liddell and her sisters, as told by Lewis Carroll, continues to inspire us 150 years after it was first published. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at the British Library explores the history and enduring power of the original story. The exhibit begins with an entry from Carroll's diary detailing the 'golden afternoon' on 4th July 1862 when he first shared the tale. 

A drawing of Alice from Lewis Carroll's manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, written between 1862-64 (c) The British Library Board

Left: An illustration of Alice at the Hatter's tea party from W.H Walkers's illustrated edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1907) (c) The British Library Board.    Right: Sir John Tenniel's illustration of Alice and the Cheshire Cat from the 1866 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (c) The British Library Board

The show looks at the many different ways in which illustrators, artists, musicians, filmmakers and designers have interpreted the story and characters over the years. Highlights include the original handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground with 37 beautifully drawn illustrations by Carroll which had us grinning like a Cheshire cat. We were particularly inspired by the pen and ink drawings by Ralph Steadman and the moody, ethereal image of Alice swimming in the pool of tears by children's book illustrator, Arthur Rackham

Title page of the 1910 edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland pictured by Mabel Lucie Attwell (c) Lucie Attwell Ltd

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Ralph Steadman, London, 1967

Helen Melody, the curator of the display, says "This exhibition, which is part of national and international celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice, highlights the enduring place of this iconic text in British culture and we hope that visitors to Alice in Wonderland will find new enjoyment and inspiration from the collections on show". 

Left: An illustration of Alice with the White Rabbit from an illustrated edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Leonard Weisgard (1949) (c) The Estate of Leonard Weisgard.      Right: Illustrated music cover of 'The Wonderland Quadrilles...for Pianoforte' composed by Charles Marriott in 1872, showing scenes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (c) British Library

Illustration of Alice from the Arthur Rackham illustrated edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1907) (c) The British Library Board

The exhibition also features an Alice in Wonderland Pop-up Shop, on until 31st January 2016, and a series of Alice-inspired events, including an evening of live comedy, music and experiments. We wonder if by 'experiments' they mean there'll be tiny potions saying "drink me" or suspiciously coloured cupcakes. Fingers crossed!

Alice in Wonderland

Friday 20th November 2015 - 17th April 2016

Entry is free

British Library

96 Euston Road




Images courtesy of the British Library

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