The Amazing World of Alice in Wonderland

1930

Louisa Fletcher, the last surviving sibling of Lewis Carroll, died on the 23rd October, aged 90, at Luss Cottage, London Road, in Guildford. Lorina Liddell, Alice’s older sister, died on the 29th of October. Alice began renting a house called ‘The Breaches’, at Westerham in Kent, and spent the winter months there, with the summer at Cuffnells.

1932

Alice was invited to Columbia University to participate in the centenary celebrations of Lewis Carroll’s birth. Although the centenary was in January, she travelled to New York in April 1932, when the weather was warmer, with her son Caryl and her sister Rhoda, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Columbia University.

‘America and New York City are such exciting places that they take me back to Wonderland’, she announced, and added ‘I thank you… for the signal honour bestowed upon me. I shall remember it and prize it for the rest of my days, which may not be very long.’

On 26th June 1932, Alice presided over a major Lewis Carroll exhibition at Bumpus, a London bookshop, alongside Peter Davies – ‘the original Peter Pan.’

Lewis Carroll Centenary, Guildford

Lewis Carroll Centenary Anniversary Booklet. Reproduced by kind permission of the Executors of the Dodgson Estate and Surrey History Centre. The original of this document is available to visitors at the Surrey History Centre. SHC ref 792p

Lewis Carroll Centenary Anniversary Booklet. Reproduced by kind permission of the Executors of the Dodgson Estate and Surrey History Centre. The original of this document is available to visitors at the Surrey History Centre. SHC ref 792p

Performances of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ were given by the ‘Cockyolly Company’ of Amateur Players, from Tues June 21-Sat June 25, at 7.30pm each evening.

The two actresses in the role of ‘Alice’ – June Morris and Sylvia Preston, aged 8 and 9, ‘play on alternate nights to avoid undue strain.’

The booklet reads:

The immortal Author of ‘Alice’ made Guildford his ‘home’ town for about thirty years of his life. It was October, 1868 that he and his sisters took up their residence at the old-fashioned red brick house known as ‘The Chestnuts’, Castle Hill, within a stone’s throw of the Ancient Keep. And there he spent his vacations until his death. He had friends in Guildford with whom he explored the neighbourhood; he preached in St Mary’s Church, in Quarry Street, many times; he once visited the Guildford High School to talk to the children; he held classes in logic at Archbishop Abbot’s Hospital in 1897; and when he passed to his rest one of the wreaths deposited on his grave in Guildford Cemetery came from child friends and bore the inscription ‘From the Sweetest Soul that ever looked with human eyes….It is proposed that, after making a Donation to the Town’s Fund for a Memorial Plaque to be placed on ‘The Chestnuts’, where Lewis Carroll died, the profits shall be devoted to Scholarships in Music, Dancing, &c, for Children, to be known as ‘Alice’ Scholarships’.

It is proposed that, after making a Donation to the Town’s Fund for a Memorial Plaque to be placed on ‘The Chestnuts’, where Lewis Carroll died, the profits shall be devoted to Scholarships in Music, Dancing, &c, for Children, to be known as ‘Alice’ Scholarships.

Alice Hargreaves accepted an invitation from the Mayor of Guildford to attend one of the performances. Her hand-written reply is on display in Guildford Museum. One of the little girls playing ‘Alice’ presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

1933

‘Among the Immortals’

'Among the Immortals' Surrey Times - May 27 1933. Reproduced by kind permission of the Executors of the Dodgson Estate and Surrey History Centre. The original of this document is available to visitors at the Surrey History Centre. SHC ref DFC/H/22/7

‘Among the Immortals’ Surrey Times – May 27 1933. Reproduced by kind permission of the Executors of the Dodgson Estate and Surrey History Centre. The original of this document is available to visitors at the Surrey History Centre. SHC ref DFC/H/22/7

Surrey Times – May 27 1933

AMONG THE IMMORTALS

At a spot not more than two hundred and fifty yards from the main High Street of Guildford, with its ceaseless din of traffic, but as quiet in its solitude as the cloisters of Christ Church, Oxford, Guildford’s tribute to its erstwhile citizen, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, has been placed. Under a typically English summer sky, to the accompaniment of music of blackbird and thrush, the unveiling of a beautiful plaque in memory of ‘Lewis Carroll’ took place on Wednesday. Fixed at the entrance to The Chestnuts, where Dodgson spent much time with his sisters during the Oxford vacations, and where, thirty-five years ago, he passed on, this ‘abiding memorial’ will be visited by lovers of all time of ‘Alice’ and her adventures. And here too, they can glance beyond the valley to the wooded height where her creator sleeps his last sleep.

Lord Crewe, who gave the speech at the unveiling,

‘has no hesitation in placing Dodgson among the select band of immortals of English literature. His lordship indulged in no fulsome flattery. As one who has spent long years in the service of the public and has learned to weigh his words, he showed in a convincing analysis of the character and the works of the man that a place in the very forefront of the writers of the last two centuries is assured to ‘Lewis Carroll.’ By erecting the plaque in commemoration of one of its most renowned citizens, Guildford has only done its duty.’

‘The provision of a plaque rich in design and beauty was appropriately due to the efforts of children. The greater part of the cost, which amounted to over £70, was met from the proceeds of the successful performances of the two Alice stories given by the Cockyolly Company of children last year in connection with the ‘Lewis Carroll’ centenary celebrations.’

The plaque was designed by Mr Graily Hewitt, and executed by Mr Harold Stahler, both members of the Art Workers’ Guild. It was unveiled by Lord Crewe in the company of Mrs Dodgson and Mrs H. R. Poole (sister-in-law and niece respectively of Lewis Carroll); The Rev F.R. Cocks, of Horsell, a former curate of Holy Trinity who knew the Dodgson family well, Mr S. H. Peatfield, and Miss V Pearn, who were prominent in arranging the Alice plays to celebrate the Lewis Carroll centenary in 1932.

Alice herself was not present, though she spoke at the Lewis Carroll Centenary Exhibition at Bumpus booksellers, in London, on 28 June 1932. Menella Dodgson, Carroll’s niece, wrote of the occasion that the Dodgson name was never heard ‘except as referring to Uncle Charles’, and recalled that her cousin Bertram ‘said something about us all appreciating the honour they were paying to Uncle Charles. Though as a matter of fact, according to the cuttings, it was Mrs Hargreaves who got by far the largest share of the honour and glory!’

Film Adaptation

Alice in Wonderland, a film adaptation by Paramount Pictures, starring Gary Cooper, W. C. Fields and Cary Grant, was released. Alice Hargreaves watched a private preview of the movie in her own home, with her grand-daughter Mary Jean, and reported that ‘the talking picture is the only possible medium for the interpretation of this best-loved of books.’

Alice was played by Charlotte Henry, who later complained that the role was a professional curse: ‘I no longer existed… with that costume I was transformed… my identity was gone.’

Alice in Wonderland Psycho-Analysed

In 1933, Anthony Goldschmidt, an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, published an article titled ‘Alice in Wonderland Psycho-Analysed’, drawing on Freudian concepts to find sexual symbols and a repressed interest in young girls in Carroll’s work. Goldschmidt’s article may have been intended as a parody of psychoanalysis, but it had a wide-ranging, long-term influence on interpretations of the Alice books.

1934

Alice was taken ill when out in her car, and soon passed into a coma. She died at The Breaches, Westerham in Kent, on 15th November, 1934; she was cremated, and her ashes interred in the Hargreaves plot at the Church of St Michaels & All Angels, in Lyndhurst.

Cuffnells was used as a hotel, and then requisitioned for a searchlight battalion in the Second World War; afterwards, it was demolished.

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