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15 Things You May Not Know About Alice In Wonderland

Picture of Johanna Gill
Updated: 5 October 2016
‘If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.’ – Alice. Whether you know the novel, the Disney version or Tim Burton’s movie, chances are low that you’re not familiar with Lewis Carroll’s iconic story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. We followed Alice down the rabbit hole to reveal some interesting facts about the story and its history that you probably didn’t know before!

1. Alice Is Real

Alice’s character was based on a real-life girl named Alice Liddell. Being brunette, she didn’t have too much in common with Alice in Wonderland. However, the little girl asked the author, Carroll, to tell her a story on a boating trip in Oxford and that was when he came up with the idea for his book.

2. Find The Cheshire Cat’s Tree In Oxford

“I’m not crazy, my reality is just different than yours.” The constantly grinning Cheshire cat is known for sayings like that and also for sitting in a tree. This tree is said to be inspired by a real one, standing in the garden behind the real Alice’s home at Christ Church College, Oxford.

3. Lewis Carroll Is The Dodo

While he created his characters fictionally, Carroll also took real-life inspiration: The Dodo is referring to himself, as he stuttered when he spoke and often took Alice to see the Dodo bird at the Natural History Museum in Oxford.

Alice and the Dodo | © John Tenniel / WikiCommons
Alice and the Dodo | © John Tenniel / WikiCommons

4. Mock Turtle Soup Is Real!

The Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, ‘Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?’ ‘No,’ said Alice. ‘I don’t even know what a Mock Turtle is.’ ‘It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from,’ said the Queen. — Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 9.

Created as a cheaper version of green turtle soup, it was a popular dish in Victorian times, made from various odd parts of calf, such as brain, head and hoof. Doesn’t sound too tempting to us…

Mock Turtle | © Cea+ / Flickr
Mock Turtle | © Cea+ / Flickr

5. Queen Victoria Loved Alice In Wonderland

After reading about Alice’s Adventures, Queen Victoria suggested that Carroll dedicated his next book to her. And so, his next work — An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations — was presented to the Queen! Perhaps not quite what she had in mind!

6. Carroll Saw Things The Way Alice Did In Wonderland

Suffering from a rare neurological disorder that causes strange hallucinations and affects the size of visual objects, Carroll saw things bigger or smaller than they actually were — a big theme of his book. The disease was later named ‘Alice in Wonderland Syndrome’.

7. Alice In Censorship

The novels were banned in China, on the grounds that animals should not use human language.

8. Illustrator John Tenniel Thought The First Book Was Horrible

Carroll asked prominent English illustrator John Tenniel to create the accompanying art for the story. When he saw an early copy of the book, he was dismayed how badly his drawings had been reproduced. Spending more than half his annual salary to get it reprinted, Carroll was left in a financial hole before the book even came out. Luckily, Alice was met with instant success.

Teaparty in Alice in Wonderland | © azzy_roth / Pixabay
Teaparty in Alice in Wonderland | © azzy_roth / Pixabay

9. A Version For Toddlers

In 1890, Carroll released a shortened version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for smaller children aged from nought to five, including 20 of John Tenniel’s illustrations from the original book coloured, enlarged and, in some cases, revised.

Alice in Wonderland Illustration | © Prawny / Pixabay
Alice in Wonderland Illustration | © Prawny / Pixabay

10. The First Movie Of Alice Was Only 12 Minutes Long

A few years after Carroll’s death, directors Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stowe made the story into a 12-minute film. At this time, that made it the longest film produced in Britain.

11. Alice In Elfland Or Amongst The Fairies

Carroll tried many different titles for his novel. The original tale was called ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’, but upon publication he came up with ideas like ‘Alice’s Hour in Elfland’ and ‘Alice amongst the Fairies’. Luckily he went with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland instead!

Alice in Wonderland | © Cea+ / Pixabay
Alice in Wonderland | © Cea+ / Pixabay

12. The Book Has Never Been Out of Print

Since it was published in 1865, it has been translated into 176 languages. At the time, the book was so popular that its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, sold out within seven weeks of its publication.

Alice in Wonderland Book | © Karen Cox / Flickr
Alice in Wonderland Book | © Karen Cox / Flickr

13. Alice In Drugland

Alice drinks potions, eats mushrooms and hallucinates as if she were on LSD, all while the world around her changes frighteningly and her mood and perceptions are hugely altered. There seem to be lot of drug references in this book and that left some people with the interpretation that the books and films are referring to drug abuse.

14. The White Rabbit Will Always Be Late

The White Rabbit’s pocket watch is always set at 12:25 in Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Better not expect him to be on time for anything, as he only has that chance twice a day!

15. Wonderland Or Murderland – What Do You Prefer?

Horror filmmakers have used the idea of Alice for films, such as 2010’s Alice in Murderland, where the Jabberwocky brings murder and mayhem to a girls night out. We think we will stick with Carroll’s nicer Wonderland version!