Curiouser and Curiouser, Part 1

A detail from an illustration by Sir John Tenniel depicting Alice with the March Hare, Hatter and Dormouse at the Mad Tea Party. From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

A detail from an illustration by Sir John Tenniel depicting Alice with the March Hare, Hatter and Dormouse at the Mad Tea Party. From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.


The Alice books were published almost 150 years ago and are now classics, loved by millions around the world. But mystery still shrouds their author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. Speculation still swirls around his relationship with the real Alice, his child muse, Alice Liddell. Cindy Bisaillon takes us into Charles Dodgson's life and the upside-down world he created, riddled with the anxieties of the Victorian age: advancing technology, the speeding up of time, the survival of the fittest, and the loss of old values. Part 2 airs Tuesday, April 29.

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


     Alice Liddell, age 6, dressed as a beggar girl, photographed by Lewis Carroll, an image that has provoked much controversy about the nature of their friendship

Alice in Wonderland was published almost 150 years ago. Since then it's become a major cultural phenomenon, quoted from almost as often as Shakespeare or the Bible. It's had thousands of printings, and been translated into over a hundred languages, including Yiddish, Swahili, Samoan, Esperanto, Latin, and an Australian aboriginal language known as Pitjantjatjara.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 
and its sequel Alice through the Looking Glass were written by Lewis Carroll -- in real life, Charles Dodgson, an Oxford mathematician and Anglican deacon. He was a deeply curious man trapped in the confines of life as a clergyman teaching math to bored students at Christ Church College, Oxford. Dodgson never admitted he was Lewis Carroll. It's as if he were two people. Even more confusing is that after his death in 1898 the myths that sprang up around him created at least two Lewis Carrolls. 
The Alice books and their author have been celebrated, and endlessly scrutinized. Carroll was a man of many contradictions. Mystery shrouds him to this day. And speculation still swirls around the nature of his friendship with the real Alice, his child muse, Alice Liddell.  No wonder Alice's best known remark is 'Curiouser and Curiouser.'

In this two-part series, Cindy Bisaillon takes us deep into Dodgson's life, into his complex dreamscape, and down the rabbit hole.

Participants in the series:

Jenny Woolf, author of The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, Haus Books, London 2010.

Edward Wakeling, mathematician, Lewis Carroll collector. Editor of The Diaries of Lewis Carroll, Vol 1-5, Lewis Carroll Society, London, 1993-2001. Author of Lewis Carroll: Photographer, Princeton U Press, 2002

Donald Rackin, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: Nonsense, Sense and Meaning, Twayne Publishers, NY, 1991.

Franzisca Kohlt, assistant dean at St. Anne's College, Oxford, PhD on Alice dreamscapes.

Mark Richards, mathematician, Carroll collector, Chairman of the Lewis Carroll Society in London.
Ella Parry-Davies, member of the Lewis Carroll Society, London, contributor to Illustrating Alice, Artists' Choice Editions, London, 2012.

Will Brooker, Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture, Continuum, NY 2004.

Readings in the program by Richard Partington.

Related Website:

Alice in Wonderland illustrations by Russian artist, Tatiana Ianovskaia

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