Tuesday 4 July 2006


As well as being American Independence Day, July 4th is a day in the literary calendar worthy of much jubilation and celebration.

It was 144 years ago, today, that an Oxford don, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, together with a friend set off in a boat up-river from Oxford to Godstow, accompanied by Alice, Lorina and Edith Liddell, the three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church.

“On which occasion,” Mr Dodgson later recorded in his diary, “I told them the fairy-tale of ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’, which I undertook to write out for Alice…”

“A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily 

In an evening of July -

“Children three that nestle near, 

Eager eye and willing ear, 

Pleased a simple tale to hear…”

That "simple tale" eventually grew to become ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and was published, two years later, under the nom de plume ‘Lewis Carroll’ and with incomparable illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.

As a result, the world of children’s literature - and, in fact, the world in general - would never be quite the same again…

‘Alice’s Adventures’ also features on my new blog ‘Ex Libris’, where I’ll occasionally be writing about interesting volumes taken at idle moments from my bookshelves…

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