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Alice Liddell

Alice Pleasance Liddell (May 4, 1852 - November 16, 1934) was a daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and his wife Lorina Hanna, née Reeve. She is remembered as the inspiration for the heroine of the children's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson ("Lewis Carroll".)

Alice Liddell - photo by Charles Dodgson

On July 4, 1862, in a rowboat travelling on the river Thames from Oxford to Godstow for a picnic outing, Alice asked Charles Ludwidge Dodgson to entertain her and her sisters Edith and Lorina with a story. As Rev. Robinson Duckworth rowed the boat, Dodgson regaled the girls with fantastic stories of a girl, not so coincidentally named Alice, and her adventures after she fell through a rabbit-hole. The story was not so unlike those Dodgson had spun for the sisters before...but this time there was one significant difference. When it was done, Alice asked Mr. Dodgson to write it down for her. She asked him again. And again. And eventually, he did write it down. He printed it by hand, illustrated it, and presented it to Alice, titling it Alice's Adventures Under Ground. In 1865, the story was professionally published, in an expanded version, as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by John Tenniel. A second "Alice" book, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There was published in 1871.

Alice married Reginald Hargreaves on September 15, 1880 in Westminster Abbey. They had three sons: Alan Knyveton Hargreaves, Leopold Reginald "Rex" Hargreaves (both killed in action in World War I), and Caryl Liddell Hargreaves, who survived to have a daughter of his own.

The cost of maintaining their home, Cuffnells, was such that it was deemed necessary to sell Alice's copy of Alice's Adventures Under Ground. It became the possession of Eldridge R. Johnson, and was displayed at Columbia University on the centenial of Carroll's birth (Alice was present, aged 80, and it was on this visit to America that she met Peter Llewellyn-Davies, one of the brothers who were the inspiration for J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan). At Johnson's death, the book was bought by a consortium of American bibliophiles and presented to the British people "in recognition of Britain's courage in facing Hitler before America came into the war." The manuscript now resides in the British Library.

Alice died in 1934.

Comparison with fictional Alice

Alice Liddell and "Alice", the character in the book, are clearly not identical, but it is fair to say that Alice Liddell was the inspiration for certain characteristic of "Alice" the character. She did not, however, inspire the illustrations of "Alice" in the published books: Tenniel had never met her.

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