Hello, lovely readers
How you filled my heart with joy
with your kind comments on my last post
Thank you :)

I'm still tackling my 'must visit' list
as our final weeks approach

This one had been at the tippy top for years and did not disappoint -
a tour of Oxford through the lens of
'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland' (1865)

I just have to share!

Christ Church College at Oxford University (where Carroll taught)

Oxford University math lecturer, Charles Dodgson, 
wrote many literary and mathematical works

His pen name was Lewis Carroll
and for many years his colleagues didn't piece together who Lewis Carroll was

It is speculated that Dodgson/Carroll was somewhat embarrassed 
that he was writing children stories although they were successful

In fact
Queen Victoria requested a copy of his next book,
which turned out to be about mathematics
(probably not what she had in mind)

To set the scene,
Oxford in 1864 was an elite university filled with boys and men

It must have been a strange place for
the Dean of Christ Church's three young girls to grow up

One of his daughters was named Alice Liddell
(pronunciation - rhymes with 'fiddle')

Lewis Carroll would take the Dean's three girls on little day trips
in a rowboat up and down the nearby River Thames
and have picnics

He told stories during their journeys
One day, Alice insisted that he write down his 'Alice' tales

And so his first manuscript was called 
'Alice's Adventures Under Ground' (1864) which included his own illustrations
- later renamed 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' -

Where Carroll would have launched a rowboat

And so this week,
we had the ultimate book club adventure

With Mark Davies, an Oxford local historian and author,
we followed Carroll's and the girls' footsteps on a walking and boat tour
(even afternoon tea on the launch)

On Carroll's river route where he wove his tales for the Liddell girls

Carroll's journals confirm the Alice books include local trivia and events
and inside jokes the girls would have understood

Surprisingly, the characters in the Alice books
personify real people in Carroll's and the Liddell's life

 It's probable The Queen Of Hearts was one of Alice's governesses, for example

The Cheshire Cat is Carroll,
as 'Cheshire Cat' was a common term from someone from Cheshire
(where Carroll was born)
and the Liddell girls had quite a few cats
so the elusive character would have appealed to them

About the hookah used by the caterpillar - 
opium was in general use at the time

When you read the book, it seems so odd and dreamlike,
but with Mark's explanation, it all makes more sense

Fascinating and delightful!

Of course the partly sunny day 
and delicious afternoon tea was the perfect
bookend to an already perfect day :)

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast
-Lewis Carroll

:: all photos my own ::

(An unsponsored post)