Doorways To Alice
1 July - 31 August 2004
The enduring character of Alice and her magical world, created by Lewis Carroll 140 years ago, were celebrated in this exhibition. Many of these items are part of a unique collection donated to the Research Collection of Children's Literature by the late Pat Cook in the 1980s. The exhibition incorporated variant editions of the two Alice books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, first published in 1865, and Through the Looking Glass, and, What Alice Found There, first published in 1872, by different artists and in different languages.
The exhibition also displayed other works by Carroll, including a facsimile of the original manuscript, Alice's Adventures Under Ground , which he wrote and illustrated himself, and gave as a gift to the young Alice Liddell in 1864. Other items of interest included the cheap People's edition (1887) of the Alice books that Macmillan published at Carroll's request and a facsimile of The Nursery Alice, a simplified, coloured edition which Carroll re-wrote for younger children. Another highlight of the exhibition was one of the first reviews of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland from Aunt Judy's Magazine, The Christmas volume of 1866. The exhibition also celebrated the translation of the Alice books into many languages, including a unique adaptation into Pitjantjatjara, a central Australian Aboriginal language.
An examination of the Victorian section of the exhibition revealed why the Alice books were so popular when they were first published. The fantasy world of Alice was very different from other Victorian children's stories with their emphasis on factual information and well-behaved children. A facsimile of A Mother's Offering to her Children (1841), the first children's book published in Australia, and Moral Songs (1880), are typical of books written with the primary purpose of teaching children to be good and obedient. Authentic Victorian toys that provide fascinating glimpses into the period were borrowed from the Museum of Childhood, Edith Cowan University, to complement the books in the display.
More than a hundred artists have been inspired by the fantasy of Alice's world since the first and most famous of these, Sir John Tenniel, a leading cartoonist of the day, was approached by Carroll himself. The various illustrated editions from different periods that are on display are a reflection of the changing art techniques, attitudes and fashions of the day. Some of the notable illustrators and artists represented here included Hugh Gee, Bessie Pease Gutmann, Gwynedd Hudson, Philip Gough, Helen Monro, Harry Rowntree, G.L. Sherwood, Nan Fullarton and Millicent Sowerby. The leading Australian artist, Charles Blackman, discovered the magical world of Alice as an adult and his Alice paintings from the 1950s were among his first important works. Three of his limited edition Alice etchings were on display in the exhibition.
An investigation of the more contemporary section of the exhibition reveals that Alice continues to inspire today's artists and writers, including Iassen Ghiuselev (2003), responsible for one of the most recently illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice, one of English literature's first resourceful adventurous girls, has some modern Australian counterparts, including Natalie Jane Prior's character, Lily Quench, and Justin D'Ath's The Upside-down Girl (2000).
The display panels provided background information to the real Alice, Lewis Carroll and his hobby of photography. There was also information available on the first and most famous illustrator of Alice, Sir John Tenniel, and on various Alice characters such as the Gryphon, with its similarities to the Hippogryph in J. K. Rowling's novel, Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban.
BACKGROUND READING LIST
Amor, Anne Clark, 1933-
Lewis Carroll, a biography / Anne Clark.
New York : Schocken Books, 1979. B/CAR
Carroll, Lewis, 1832-1898.
The diaries of Lewis Carroll / now first edited and supplemented by Roger Lancelyn Green.
London: Cassell, 1953. Vol. 1. B/CAR
The history of photography : from camera obscura to the beginning of the modern era / Helmut Gernsheim in collaboration with Alison Gernsheim.
New York : McGraw-Hill, 1969. Q770.9 GER
Hamilton, James, 1948-.
Arthur Rackham : a life with illustration / James Hamilton.
London : Pavilion, 1990.
Q 741.642 HAM
Hancher, Michael, 1941-
The Tenniel illustrations to the "Alice" books
[Columbus] : Ohio State University Press, c1985. 741.642 HAN
The Illustrators of Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking glass / edited by Graham Ovenden; with an introduction by John Davis.
London : Academy Editions ; New York : St. Martin's Press, 1972. Q741.642
International companion encyclopedia of children's literature /edited by Peter Hunt ; associate editor, Sheila Ray.
London ; New York : Routledge, 1996. 809.89 INT
The magic of Lewis Carroll / edited by John Fisher.
London : Nelson, 1973. 793 MAG
Taylor, Roger, 1940-
Lewis Carroll, photographer : the Princeton University Library albums / Roger Taylor, Edward Wakeling ; introduction by Peter C. Bunnell.
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, c2002. Q 779 TAY
Page last updated: Sunday 10 January 2010