Released on 03Mar11
The Alice Behind Wonderland
By Simon Winchester
In the summer of 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church in Oxford, Charles Dodgson--better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll--dressed the six-year-old Alice Liddell in ragamuffin's clothes, draped the folds of cloth low enough to expose her bare chest, asked her to look deep into his eyes--and then snapped the camera's shutter.
In The Alice Behind Wonderland, Simon Winchester uses the famous photograph of Alice--notorious for the child's alluring pose--as the launching pad for an energetic and penetrating look at the inspiration behind, and the making of, one of the greatest classics of children's literature: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Indeed, Winchester shows that it was Dodgson's photographic love affair with Alice that transformed this shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved writers. Equally important, this photograph offers a window into Dodgson's troubled Victorian's mind and soul; it is a picture imbued with more meaning than its appearance would suggest. Much like the fictional Alice's world, as the photograph is subject to closer examination, it becomes nothing short of curiouser and curiouser. Alice Liddell as The Beggar Maid was, in short, the muse that would inspire the creation of Alice in Wonderland. Deftly engaging with Dogson's published writings, private diaries, and photography, Winchester weaves together the poignant, turbulent, and entirely fascinating story behind Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.
‘Let us imagine, then, that Dodgson required Alice to come down from the deanery with just two outfits. What he had in mind was a very brief moral tale, a picture-driven tale of a smart little girl brought low by tragedy or ill fortune, then transformed into a girl who, cunning beyond the imagination of her elders and her peers, convincingly acts the impoverished seducer, and assumes an expression and a demeanour so very different from that she had offered to her world.’ P84
Simon Winchester is the author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map that Changed the World, Krakatoa, and A Crack in the Edge of the World. Each of these have been New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable booklists.
Simon Winchester will be visiting the UK 1-8 April 2011
Interviews/ review copies: contact – email@example.com, Tel: 01865 353240