Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Down the Rabbit Hole


…Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. Lewis Carroll

alice_02b-alice_rabbitI felt just like Alice this week, burning with curiosity, as I fell down the rabbit hole and attended events celebrating the 150 anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

There is a small exhibit at Butler Library at Columbia University in their rare book room that celebrates the 1932 visit of Alice Pleasance (Liddell) Hargreaves to New York City. Alice was the author’s child friend who inspired the creation of the story. Charles Dodgson, whose pen name was Lewis Carroll, began the tale when he and a friend, Reverend Robinson Duckworth, took Alice and her two sisters out for an afternoon of rowing and sharing a picnic. Alice’s 1932 visit was part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Dodgson’s birth. The Columbia exhibit commemorates the degree given to Alice:

the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of the place which your name occupies in English literature and of the remarkable contributions to that literature by Lewis Carroll to which your personality gave rise.
Dr. Murray Butler, President of Columbia

Actor Andrew Sellon performed a one-man show as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He has been writing this show for a number of years, and his research and interpretation of the author’s life suggested alternative theories to events in Dodgson’s life.

It is the closing week of the exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum entitled “150 Years of Wonderland”. This exhibit featured Dodgson’s original manuscript that he presented to Alice Liddell along with first editions of the book. Among the other exhibits were John Tenniel’s original drafts and illustrations, Dodgson’s microscope and photographic plates, personal items of the real Alice, and very informative descriptions of the author and illustrator.

This was a rabbit hole that was almost as difficult to emerge from as Alice’s escape. However, my time exploring Dodgson’s life and world will continue, just as his words about Alice do:
And how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago;

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