Lewis Carroll, the pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, published his work Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865. The novel has since become one of the most famous works of children’s literature. It tells the fantastical story of a young girl, Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole into the make-believe world of Wonderland where logic is completely turned topsy-turvy. The work has had profound influence on the course of children’s literature and the genre of fantasy.
According to literary scholars, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson conceived of his tale while boating on the River Thames with another reverend and the three daughters of Henry Liddell, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. One of these girls, Alice, is believed to be the inspiration for Carroll’s title character. Nearly three years after this river journey, Carroll published his masterpiece which has never been out of print since its initial publication. Queen Victoria of England was among the work’s earliest fans. The book proved to be a literary sensation and has since been translated into more than 125 languages.
The novel opens with Alice sitting on the river’s edge with her sister when she spies a white rabbit darting by her. She chases after the rabbit following it into its hole whereby she falls a long way and lands in a hall filled with many locked doors. From this point the tale is filled with fantastical happenings. Alice drinks a bottle whose contents make her grow small and eats a cake that makes her grow to giant proportions. During her adventures in Wonderland, she meets various characters like Caterpillar, Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and the bad-tempered Queen.
Many of the work’s scenes have become some of the most famous of classic children’s literature. The mad tea party is among the most noteworthy and features Alice and various other characters such as the Mad Hatter who presides over the group. While at the party, Alice becomes frustrated by the many riddles proposed to her. She leaves the tea party only to find three live playing cards in the garden. The Queen enters the garden soon after delivering her famous phrase, “Off with his head!” The book’s last scene shows the pack of cards swarming upon her after she refuses to the leave the trial of the Knave of Hearts. The work concludes as Alice’s sister wakes her up for tea and wipes away the leaves which have fallen upon the sleeping Alice.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been read popularly and studied critically decade upon decade since its first publication. Literary scholars have analyzed the work’s symbols and character allusions. Most have concluded that Carroll based the Dodo on himself and Bill the Lizard on Benjamin Disraeli, a British Prime Minister. The novel continues to be regarded as one of the best works of the literary nonsense genre.