Tag Archives: Lewis Carroll

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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CBC Radio documentary on Alice & Lewis Carroll !

I am talking about Alice, Dreams and Victorians, alongside wonderful Carrollians Edward Wakeling, Donald Rackin, Jenny Woolf and many more on the lovely 2-part CBC Ideas radio documentary “Curiouser and Curiouser” – part two is on tonight!

A Mad Tea Party

Click here to listen to the 2-part documentary online!

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April 29, 2014 · 9:46 am