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The Alice behind Wonderland

by

The Alice behind Wonderland Cover

 

Staff Pick

Simon Winchester makes everything within his intense gaze come amazingly alive. Here, he turns his attention to Charles Dodgson (better knows as Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland fame). Winchester looks at the critical period in Dodgson's life in which he becomes entranced with photography and ultimately turns his camera to a young girl. This young girl, Alice Lidell, would ultimately "become" the Alice in Wonderland.  Speculation of his intentions toward her has existed for years, and this truly fascinating volume uses Dodgson's own diaries and papers to illuminate his case.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the summer of 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church in Oxford, Charles Dodgson--better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll--dressed the six-year-old Alice Liddell in ragamuffin's clothes, and then snapped the camera's shutter.

In The Alice Behind Wonderland, Simon Winchester uses the famous photograph of Alice as the launching pad for an appreciative energetic and penetrating look at the inspiration behind, and the making of, one of the greatest classics of children's literature. Indeed, Winchester shows that Dodgson's love of photography deeply influenced his view of the world, helping to transform this shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Much like the fictional Alice's world, as the photograph is subject to closer examination, 'Alice Liddell as The Beggar Maid' becomes curiouser and curiouser, capturing a moment during a golden afternoon that would endure forever. 'Alice Liddell as The Beggar Maid' was, in short, the muse that would inspire the creation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Deftly engaging with Dogson's published writings, private diaries, and photography, Winchester weaves together the poignant, turbulent, and entirely fascinating story behind Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.

Acclaim for Simon Winchester

"An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity."

--Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

"A master at telling a complex story compellingly and lucidly."

--USA Today

"Extraordinarily graceful."

--Time

"Winchester is an exquisite writer and a deft anecdoteur."

--Christopher Buckley

"A lyrical writer and an indefatigable researcher."

--Newsweek

Review:

"Winchester (The Professor and the Madman) explores the story behind Alice in Wonderland by focusing on an 1858 portrait taken by the eccentric Charles Dodgson — best known by his pen-name, Lewis Carroll. The subject of the photo is six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the dean of Oxford's Christ Church College who, encouraged by Dodgson, is dressed as a ragged beggar-maid — a costume inspired by a Tennyson poem. The dean's daughter provided Dodgson with not only the name and inspiration for the main character of his now infamous book but she also asked him to write it as a gift for her. Winchester's overall tone is unfortunately self-indulgent, and his take that Alice is seductive and coquettish in the 1858 photo is questionable. He stretches his brief essay with the differences between daguerreotype and calotype photographic images while skimping on Dodgson's relationship with Alice's mother. Readers will more likely be interested in Winchester's benign interpretation of Dodgson's character than his preoccupation with one particular photograph. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London.

Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image--as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation--as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to "Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid" than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.

Acclaim for Simon Winchester

"An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity."

--Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

"A master at telling a complex story compellingly and lucidly."

--USA Today

"Extraordinarily graceful."

--Time

"Winchester is an exquisite writer and a deft anecdoteur."

--Christopher Buckley

"A lyrical writer and an indefatigable researcher."

--Newsweek

About the Author

Simon Winchester is the author of Atlantic, The Professor and the Madman, The Map that Changed the World, and A Crack in the Edge of the World, all of which have been New York Times bestsellers. In recognition of his accomplished body of work, Winchester was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006. He lives in Manhattan and western Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

TK

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195396195
Author:
Winchester, Simon
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Author:
null, Simon
Subject:
Children's Literature - General
Subject:
Europe - Great Britain - General
Subject:
Great britain
Subject:
History, Other | Cultural History
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Subject:
Children's Literature
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
128
Dimensions:
5.8 x 8.4 x 0.7 in 0.613 lb

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The Alice behind Wonderland Sale Hardcover
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Product details 128 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195396195 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Simon Winchester makes everything within his intense gaze come amazingly alive. Here, he turns his attention to Charles Dodgson (better knows as Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland fame). Winchester looks at the critical period in Dodgson's life in which he becomes entranced with photography and ultimately turns his camera to a young girl. This young girl, Alice Lidell, would ultimately "become" the Alice in Wonderland.  Speculation of his intentions toward her has existed for years, and this truly fascinating volume uses Dodgson's own diaries and papers to illuminate his case.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Winchester (The Professor and the Madman) explores the story behind Alice in Wonderland by focusing on an 1858 portrait taken by the eccentric Charles Dodgson — best known by his pen-name, Lewis Carroll. The subject of the photo is six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the dean of Oxford's Christ Church College who, encouraged by Dodgson, is dressed as a ragged beggar-maid — a costume inspired by a Tennyson poem. The dean's daughter provided Dodgson with not only the name and inspiration for the main character of his now infamous book but she also asked him to write it as a gift for her. Winchester's overall tone is unfortunately self-indulgent, and his take that Alice is seductive and coquettish in the 1858 photo is questionable. He stretches his brief essay with the differences between daguerreotype and calotype photographic images while skimping on Dodgson's relationship with Alice's mother. Readers will more likely be interested in Winchester's benign interpretation of Dodgson's character than his preoccupation with one particular photograph. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London.

Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image--as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation--as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to "Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid" than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.

Acclaim for Simon Winchester

"An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity."

--Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review

"A master at telling a complex story compellingly and lucidly."

--USA Today

"Extraordinarily graceful."

--Time

"Winchester is an exquisite writer and a deft anecdoteur."

--Christopher Buckley

"A lyrical writer and an indefatigable researcher."

--Newsweek

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