The story behind Alice and Wonderland

Lewis Carroll and his “child-friends”

About 150 years ago, Alice fell down the famous rabbit hole into the Wonderland. But her Adventures continue to enthrall the readers. Author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, later penned the sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Carroll, born on January 27, 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire, England, began writing from an early age.

A lecturer in mathematics, Carroll wrote essays, political pamphlets and poetry. He had a bad stammer, but was always fluent when kids were around.

In 1856 he was about to publish the poem, ‘Solitude’. Carroll wanted a pen name. His editor chose Lewis Carroll from four options he had given. Others in the list were Edgar Cuthwellis and Edgar U C Westhill.

It was then he met Alice, the daughter of Henry George Liddell. She became inspiration for the fictional character. Alice Liddell remembers spending many hours with Carroll, listening to tales he told.

On 4 July afternoon, 1862, he had a boat trip down the Thames with Alice and her two sisters.  He then told them a story.

 Back home, Alice insisted him to write down the story for her. It took two and a half years. The story was a Christmas present to her in 1864. Besides being a writer, he was a mathematician, logician and photographer. Of the 3000 photos he clicked, many had children in every possible costume and situation.

He taught mathematics for 26 years at Christ Church at the University of Oxford. Alongside, Carroll developed interesting word plays and logic.  The game he created ‘Syzygies’ had players change letters in one word to make another.

Carroll bought the latest microscope of his day. Manufactured in 1859 by Smith & Beck of London, it was “something that he had for his whole life and took incredible care of’.

His writings gave rise to children’s books, especially novels for kids. Carroll died of influenza on January 14, 1898 when he was only two weeks away from turning 66 years old.