Title image with logos ESPIn 2012, Prof. Will Brooker, head of Film research at Kingston University and author of the book Alice’s Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture, undertook new research into the way the anniversaries of the Alice stories and Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) were marked in Guildford and the surrounding areas. He studied three key dates – 1932, 1965 and 1998 – to find out what Carroll meant to Surrey throughout the 20th century. The project incorporated the views of local people, Dodgson’s living descendants, and leading Carroll experts.

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Detail on the 'Alice' biscuit tin, manufactured by Barringer, Wallis and Manners, c.1892 (SHC ref G103/2/4; held at Guildford Museum)

Detail on the ‘Alice’ biscuit tin, manufactured by Barringer, Wallis and Manners, c.1892
(SHC ref G103/2/4; held at Guildford Museum)

Alice across the years

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson<br/>(SHC ref DFC/B/1/5/1)

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
(SHC ref DFC/B/1/5/1)

By 1932, Alice had been used in a variety of political parodies, illustrated by a range of artists and adapted into six film productions; but more importantly, analysis of Carroll’s work had begun to circulate. A.M.E. Goldschmidt published Alice in Wonderland Psycho-Analysed in 1933, arguing that the children’s story was packed with coded sexual symbols and prompting an interpretation of Carroll’s work that persisted throughout the 20th century.

The mid-1960s saw Alice re-interpreted as a psychedelic, hallucinogenic “trip”; Grace Slick’s White Rabbit of 1967 and Thomas Fensch’s article Lewis Carroll: The First Acidhead (1968) picked up on readings that were already circulating in youth culture. Disney’s animated adaptation of 1951 was proving popular with students, leading Disney to re-release the film with a marketing campaign focusing on its “visual euphoria”, while Jonathan Miller released a sombre, grown-up television adaptation of Alice in 1966.

Pamplet entitled The Real Alice: A photograph by Lewis Carroll.  Detailing the history of a photographic print of Alice Liddell, early C20th(SHC ref 6968/3/1)

Pamplet entitled The Real Alice: A photograph by Lewis Carroll. Detailing the history of a photographic print of Alice Liddell, early C20th
(SHC ref 6968/3/1)

At the end of the 20th century, while the Alice books were still considered wholesome entertainment, adapted to family-friendly film and television versions (such as Nick Willing’s production of 1999), and released in new illustrated editions for children and parents to enjoy together (for example by Helen Oxenbury, in 1999), many journalists and critics viewed Carroll’s photography – and his relationships with his child-friends – through the lens of contemporary fears about children’s safety and sexuality. Cultural responses to Carroll and his work are contradictory, held in tension between an admiration of his contribution to heritage, and a deep suspicion of his personal characteristics.

Click here to see a pdf (PDF) copy of a newscutting from the Daily Express with cartoon ‘Alice in Blunderland’ by Strure, and article ‘This Is LEWIS CARROLL’S DAY’ by Howard Spring, 27 Jan 1932 (SHC ref 6968/3/4)

[Text by Dr Will Brooker, University of Kingston, and member of the Lewis Carroll Society.]

The Alice Timeline

The ‘Alice Timeline’, spanning 1832 to 2015, has been researched and produced by Dr Brooker and Dr Sarah Zaidan, using archives and artefacts from Surrey History Centre, Guildford Museum, and The British Library.

We are grateful to Edward Wakeling, Lewis Carroll author and expert, for his comments on the content, and to the Dodgson Executors for permission to use images of items in the Dodgson Family Collection held at Surrey History Centre.

Browse through the decades to discover key dates in the life of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, his work as Lewis Carroll, and evolution of Alice.

The Amazing World of Alice in Wonderland:

Click on the links below to discover more

1830s Dog SRY_SCA_21830s 1840s DFC_B_1_1 Silhouette of CLD 18401840s 1850s DFC_B_2_8 Lucy Lutwidge, CLD's aunt, nd1850s 1860s White Rabbit Tenniel1860s 1870s The Hunting of the Snark1899 edition SHC ref 081 CAR1870s
1880s Tenniel - Alice1880s 1890s Memorybox18981890s 1900s Tenniel - Alice1900s 1910s Title Image1910s 1920s Lobster Quadrille image1920s
1930s Memorybox32b1930s 1940s Florence Becker Lennon biography of Carroll1940s 1950s Title Image1950s 1960s Memorybox651960s 1970s Title Image1970s
1980s Memorybox82w1980s 1990s Memorybox981990s 2000s Title Image2000s 2010s Memorybox2015w2010s DFC_B_1_2 CLD 1856 probably by Reginald SoutheyLewis Carroll

Discover some of the beautifully illustrated editions of Alice on the AbeBooks website.

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