You may have read the book many times, and seen the various movies, but there’s always something new to learn about a classic like Alice in Wonderland. You probably already knew that “Alice” was based on young Alice Liddell, the daughter of Lewis Carroll’s boss. But Alice wasn’t alone- she had two sisters, and the girls all loved Carroll’s stories.
The Mad Hatter never would have existed without the persistence of children.
When Carroll began telling a fantastic tale to Alice Liddell and her two sisters on a summer 1862 boating trip up the Thames, he didn’t plan on becoming a children’s author. But just like your niece who won’t stop begging to watch Frozen again, the kids wouldn’t stop asking him to tell the story—Carroll wrote about having to retell “the interminable Alice’s adventures” in his diary. He eventually turned it into a written novel, presenting it to Alice as an early Christmas gift in 1864. By the time he self-published the final version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, it had doubled in length, with new scenes including those with the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. “These episodes are likely something that came up later in the retelling of the story,” Vega says.
8. Wonderland wouldn’t have seemed so absurd to the real Alice.
“Some of the things that seem like nonsense to us would have made total sense to Alice and her sisters,” Vega explains. When the Mock Turtle says in the book that he receives lessons in drawing, sketching, and “fainting in coils” from an “old conger-eel, that used to come once a week,” the Liddells would have recognized their own art tutor, who gave the girls lessons in sketching, drawing, and oil painting. Much of the “nonsense” from the book was “based on people and places and experiences that these very real children had and would have been familiar with,” Vega says.
You’ll learn quite a bit about how Carroll was inspired to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland -which went through several other titles before publication- and how it came to print, at mental_floss.