Morgan Library Exhibition Celebrates 150th Anniversary of ALICE IN WONDERLAND

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • April 13, 2015

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John Tenniel (1820–1914) Nothing but a pack of cards! Hand-colored proof, ca. 1889 The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. Gift of Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., 1987, 2005.203. Photography by Steven H. Crossot, 2014.

Beginning June 26, the Morgan Library & Museum takes visitors on an unforgettable journey exploring one of the greatest tales ever told, Lewis Carroll’s enchanting Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of Alice’s publication in 1865 and sheds light on the genesis of the story and its extraordinary reception in England and abroad. The show includes the original manuscript of Alice, on special loan from the British Library, as well as original correspondence, unique drawings, handcolored proofs, rare editions, vintage photographs, and important objects associated with the story—some never before exhibited. Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland will be on view through October 11. 


“Visitors to Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland will encounter the fascinating and often surprising story behind the making of one of the world’s true literary classics,” said Peggy Fogelman, Acting Director of the Morgan Library & Museum. "We are also extraordinarily grateful to the British Library for loaning the original manuscript to serve as a centerpiece for the show. It is a rare treat.”  

The story of Wonderland was first told during a boating trip one English afternoon to Alice Liddell and her two sisters by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his penname Lewis Carroll.

Delighted by the fantastic world of logic and nonsense inhabited by rabbits in waistcoats and playing card gardeners, the ten-year-old Alice asked for a written copy of her namesake's adventures underground. Carroll proceeded to painstakingly write out the story, illustrating the original manuscript with his own pen and ink drawings.

Revised and substantially expanded, the story first appeared in print in 1865 as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with the iconic illustrations of John Tenniel. However, Tenniel was dissatisfied with the printing quality of his illustrations and the edition was suppressed almost immediately. Today, only about twenty copies of the first printing are known to survive. The story was quickly reprinted and the new edition beautifully reproduced Tenniel’s brilliant drawings. Almost overnight, Alice became a publishing sensation, as the combination of text and illustration brought to life a story that has endured for 150 years. During this long period Alice in Wonderland has never been out of print and has been translated into more than 170 languages.

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