Alice in Wonderland exhibition opens at the British Library to mark 150th anniversary of publication


20 November 2015 – 17 April 2016

A free exhibition exploring the legacy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland opens at the British Library tomorrow (Friday 20 November). Recognising the enduring power of Lewis Carroll’s original story and the first illustrations by John Tenniel, the exhibition explores how the story of the girl who went ‘down the rabbit hole’ continues to inspire and entertain 150 years after it was published.

One of the British Library’s most loved treasures, Lewis Carroll’s iconic handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, and an entry from Carroll’s diary detailing the ‘golden afternoon’ on 4 July 1862 when he first told the story to Alice Liddell and her sisters, provides the starting point for the exhibition.

The exhibition, which will take place in the Library’s Entrance Hall exhibition space, goes on to explore the different ways in which generations of illustrators, artists, musicians, filmmakers and designers have interpreted the story and characters over the past 150 years.

New illustrated editions of the story often mirror the period in which they were created, from Mabel Lucie Attwell’s endearingly rosy-cheeked Alice of 1910 and Charles Robinson’s art nouveau style, to Salvador Dalí’s surrealist lithographs inspired by Carroll’s story and Mervyn Pearke’s darker vision of Wonderland born out of his experiences during the Second World War.

Exhibition highlights include:

The original handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground with 37 carefully drawn illustrations by Carroll
Two first editions of Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by John Tenniel, including the suppressed first edition which was recalled due to Carroll and Tenniel’s dissatisfaction with the quality of the illustrations
The first movie adaption of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a silent film from 1903 by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow
Charming early Alice memorabilia including wooden figurines, tea tins and a postage stamp case
Three new computer game concepts created by winners of the 2015 Alice in Wonderland themed Off the Map competition run by the British Library and GameCity

Helen Melody, curator of the Alice in Wonderland exhibition, says:

“Ever since its conception, the story of Alice has been analysed, appropriated, reimagined and re-illustrated, and yet despite undergoing so much change it remains remarkably true to Carroll’s original story. This exhibition, which is part of national and international celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice, highlights the enduring place of this iconic text in British culture and we hope that visitors to Alice in Wonderland will find new enjoyment and inspiration from the collections on show.”

The exhibition is accompanied by an Alice in Wonderland Pop-up Shop (until 31 January 2016) and a series of Alice-inspired events, including a family workshop, an evening of live comedy, music and experiments hosted by Festival of the Spoken Nerd and two sold out Lates at the Library.

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