Tag Archives: Lewis Carroll

BBC History Extra: 125th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Death

To honour the 125th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s death, BBC History asked me to write an article about the man, his life – and of course his most famous work: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

It’s unusual to have 2000+ words to explore a topic in a little more depth – so I hope you enjoy this portrait of the “maker of Wonderlandwhich is out today.

As for one of my favourite parts of the story, though, scroll on…

“Lewis Carroll: Maker of Wonderlands” on BBC History Extra

Lewis Carroll and Alan Turing

One of my favourite parts of this story comes right at the end. Among the people who admired Carroll and was inspired by his work – his mathematics as well as his fiction, was the young Alan Turing, who borrowed from his school library at Sherborne both Alice books – Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass – and The Game of Logic (pictures are courtesy of Sherborne School archives).

Sherborne School also feature the anniversary, as well as the Turing connection in a post on their website, as well as in their letter to current students and alumni.

Unfortunately, in the BBC article, some links seem to have disappeared from the text of my article in the process of online publication, so if youre interested in finding out more about how Carroll recorded his memories of the origin of Alice in his diaries, Alice’s own recollections of her acquaintance with Carroll, or the photomontages and photos of unclear provenance that have been named as Carroll’s in recent years – as well as quotes falsely attributed to Carroll & Alice, I provide the links here.

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Wrapping up 2021 – and looking ahead to 2022

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In 2021 I have most of all been really grateful that, in a still immensely challenging year, I had the opportunity to pick up some of the postponed projects of 2020, and also pursue new opportunities, expanding on my research in science communication, history of science and literature.

Amongst others, I had the opportunity to discuss both my research and practice in science communication, informed by the history of science, at COP26 and the Bristol Festival of Technology.

I saw a long-term project developing the “Adventures of Manuscripts” series with French-German TV channel Arte finally came to fruition, with all four episodes finally airing this year, after many Covid delays.

The year 2021 was also the anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. we held a major online conference, and are looking forward this year to publishing a new Companion to Through the Looking-Glass, including many of the conference contributions – and more (more soon!).

I had the opportunity to speak about so many difference aspects of Alice and Looing-Glass from Fashion, to commemorative coins with the Guardian, the Yorkshire Post, and Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Finally, I am beyond honoured to be joining Oxford’s Continuing Education Department for taking on their summer course ‘Lewis Carroll’s Oxford and the Surprising Histories of Alice’s Wonderland‘ – and there are more news, linked with that (more on that, also, soon!).

Here’s to 2022!

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Lewis Carroll’s Oxford & the Surprising Histories of Alice’s Wonderland course, University of Oxford

From June 2022, I am taking on leading this fantastic programme at the University of Oxford’s Continuing Education Department (you can peruse the course contents here). The course will offer a fresh, thought-provoking take on the place of Lewis Carroll & his most famous books in their time, and their continuing appeal in ours. It will explore the role of Oxford in its creation, but also how looking at the Victorian contexts that inspired it – from science and medicine to music and logic – but also how that can help us navigate intellectual and social challenges of the past, but, hopefully, also illuminate our own – and teach us how to think, learn, talk and write about them.


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Lewis Carroll & Looking-Glass feature in the Yorkshire Post

A lovely feature about Lewis Carroll & his Yorkshire connections appeared in the Yorkshire Post yesterday – for which I was interviewed. They give a shout-out to our Looking-Glass Sesquicentenary conference also (registration is now open btw! Have a look at our programme too!)

You can find the article on the Yorkshire Post website (sadly paywalled) or you can have a cheeky look at my Instagram for pictures of the print article.

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‘Alice in Wonderland & Science’ film for University of Oxford

In August I was extremely excited to be invited to shoot a little image film about my work on Victorian fantasy literature and science at Christ Church, Oxford. Christ Church kindly let me use some of Lewis Carroll’s own manuscript materials from their collection (have a look at some of their digitised items here) – including his photographs, proofs, sketches, letters, and his dedicated presentation copy of a first edition copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! I also speak about Victorian children’s literature’s ties to Victorian Science Communication & Education, about Victorian Lunatic Asylums – and Charles Dickens’s visit to one – and how all of that can change how we think about Fantasy and Science Fiction Literature in general – I hope you like it!  

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Railways, biodiversity, agricultural history and…Through the Looking-Glass?

On the 25th of November I will be giving a talk at the Abingdon Arms, Beckley, just outside Oxford.

The occasion is not only that the award-winning Pub overlooks Otmoor, the nature reserve which some believe may have inspired Lewis Carroll’s chessboard landscape in Through the Looking-Glass (I will investigate this claim), but also the planned resurrection of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway through this area of scientific interest, which is noted especially for its biodiversity by the RSPB.

Oxford is well-known to have inspired Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), but the extensive influence of the Oxfordshire countryside on Through The Looking-Glass (1871) is less frequently discussed. My talk will therefore not only uncover some of these inspirations, from Oxford’s architecture to Oxfordshire’s agricultural history, but also illuminate how Lewis Carroll’s wider interest in nature, science and industry – and thus also the railways – shaped Through the Looking-Glass, and explore how this can help us approach and rethink contemporary challenges posed to the balance between nature and the necessities of modern life. (Announcements for the talk have appeared also here and here)


The Looking-Glass countryside, John Tenniel

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TRT documentary on Alice in Wonderland adaptations now online

Last week I appeared live on TRT Showcase about adaptations of Alice in Wonderland together with author and fellow Carrollian Charlie Lovett. We spoke about our most fascinating finds in researching Lewis Carroll, early Alice theatre adaptations, Carroll’s library and real mad tea parties – have a look!


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A Mad Tea-Party!

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the Public Domain Review & Medium came up with the fantastic idea to release a digital “Annotated Alice” – each of the 12 chapters annotated by a different Lewis Carroll scholar, with funky illustrations. So far, this has resulted in a wonderfully illuminating, kaleidoscopic journey into the cultural history & impact of Carroll’s most famous novel, which has reached 12,000 views so far, nearly 5,000 reads, as well as retweets from The British Council, The University of Oxford Humanities Division & Bodleian Library, Brainpickings and many other fantastic organisations.

I am particularly pleased that I was able to share some of the links between literature and science in “my” chapter, the “Mad Tea-Party” (you will hopefully be able to read more of this soon in article form!). For now – enjoy the free online text, share, and spread the word!

A Mad Tea-Party

John Tenniel, “A Mad Tea-Party” from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

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Alice’s Day, Oxford, 5th of July 2014


Alice’s Day, Oxford, 5th of July 2014

In only a little bit more than a week this year’s Alice’s Day is upon us! This year, the them  of this amazing Oxford-wide event is “Underground”, because it marks the 150th anniversary of the original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”. Building up the the 150th of the novel’s publication next year, fantastic underground themed events will be taking place all around Oxford, and secret underground locations will be open to the general public for talks, storytelling and many other amazing things. In the Bodleian Library there will be a display of rare Alice editions, and other “underground” themed treasures from their collections, including George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin and some of Tolkien’s very own illustrations of his Hobbit. You can view the entire day’s programme on the website of Oxford’s Story Museum.

My talk at Alice's Day 2013

My talk at Alice’s Day 2013

The Lewis Carroll Society have once again put together a splendid set of

talks to accompany the day, and in three subsequent presentations at the Old Fire Station Sarah Stanfield, Chairwoman of the society, will explore the history of the manuscript, Angela Trend will gives further insight into Alice’s life after Alice’s Adventures and I will myself dive down the Rabbit Hole to introduce the transformation of the magical underground journeys in the history of (children’s) literature, before Mark Richards, former Chairman of the society will round off the evening with a presentation on Alice’s journey through the ages, and her transformation in the novel’s illustrations, followed by a panel discussion. All attendees will receive a free copy of this year’s special edition Alice newspaper “Frabjous Times” – so do make sure you come along to have a fantastic day!


Talks by the Lewis Carroll Society


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