Art And Culture

‘Alice in Wonderland’ 150th Anniv. at Morgan Library Exhibition

‘Alice in Wonderland’ 150th Anniv. at Morgan Library Exhibition‘Alice in Wonderland’ 150th Anniv. at Morgan Library Exhibition

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, Lewis Carroll’s famous tale of a 7-year-old girl who falls down a rabbit hole and mixes with a mad cast of characters before awakening from her dream.

Alice-mania has gained steam in New York with a show at The Grolier Club, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Columbia University, where real-life Alice - Alice Liddell Hargreaves - received an honorary doctorate in 1932, the centenary year of Carroll’s birth, AP reported.

For its part, The Morgan Library & Museum has pulled off a curatorial coup and secured the original manuscript from the British Library in London, building a wonderland of an exhibit around it, now through October 11. It’s “a biography of the book ... the story of the story,” curator Carolyn Vega said during a recent crowded tour of the show.

The manuscript is enclosed in a glass case at the center of the gallery and opened to pages 10 and 11, the latter boasting a drawing of a long-necked Alice by Carroll, an amateur artist.

The document forms the heart and soul of the exhibit. There is even a touch screen with a digitized manuscript that one can tap for a page-by-page view of Carroll’s neat handwriting and illustrations by well-known English illustrator John Tenniel.

The Morgan exhibition also features Carroll’s journal entries, one of which lightly details the circumstances of a boating outing with 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her family.

It was on that occasion that Carroll first told the story of Alice and her discovery of a strange world underground. In subsequent entries, Carroll notes Alice’s requests to hear the story again and again, demanding that he follow through with a written copy. It was “the persistence of Alice,” Vega said, that led to the publication of a story.

Alice herself is also a part of the exhibition, with several photographs of her on display (Carroll, a prolific amateur photographer, took a total of 11 photographs of Alice). Alice Liddell was the daughter of Charles Liddell, the dean at Christ Church College at Oxford University, where Carroll lectured on mathematics. Vega explained that, as the child of aristocratic parents, Alice led “a conventional Victorian life,” with a governess and numerous tutors.

Also on display are some of Alice’s personal belongings: her ruby ring, her Book of Common Prayer, and leather purse.