Alice Liddell

Dafato Team | Jan 30, 2023

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Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves Taylor (Westminster, May 4, 1852 - Kent, November 15, 1934) during her childhood was a friend of Lewis Carroll, and her inspiration for the main character in the books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Alice Liddell was the fourth child of the marriage formed by Henry Liddell, who was for 36 years dean of Christ Church College, Oxford, and his wife, whose maiden name was Lorina Hannah, youngest daughter of some landed gentry. The couple had several children who were older than Alice, Harry (born in 1847) and Arthur (six other girls were born after her, with one of whom, Edith (born in 1854) Alice had a rather intimate relationship.

When Alice was born, her father was the dean of Westminster School, but soon after he was appointed to the deanship of Christ Church, Oxford. The Liddell family moved to Oxford in 1856. Shortly after the move, the Liddells befriended Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his literary pseudonym Lewis Carroll, a professor at Christ Church. Dodgson and Alice Liddell met on April 25, 1856, when the girl was not yet four years old.

Charles Dodgson's friendship with the Liddell family, and especially with Alice and her sisters Lorina and Edith, lasted for several years. The three posed on numerous occasions to be photographed by Dodgson, a great amateur photographer, and they used to go with him on excursions around Oxford. The real Alice left a record of these long walks:

"Many of Mr. Dodgson's tales were told to us on our excursions down the river near Oxford. It seems to me that the beginning of Alice was told to us on a summer afternoon when the sun was so hot that we had landed in some meadows downstream from the river and had left the boat to take shelter in the shade of a newly-formed haystack. There, the three of us repeated our old phrase: tell us a story, and so began his tale, always delightful. Sometimes to mortify us, or because he was really tired, Mr. Dodgson would stop suddenly and say: this is all, until next time: ah, but this is next time, the three of us would exclaim at the same time, and after several attempts to persuade him, the narration would resume again".

During one of these excursions, Dodgson, at Alice's request, invented a first version of what would later become the famous book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and subsequently wrote the story as a gift to Alice for Christmas 1863. Shortly before (in the summer of that same year), however, a mysterious episode had caused a chill in relations between Dodgson and the Liddells. From then on, Alice and Dodgson had only sporadic meetings. There are records of correspondence between the two until at least 1892.

During Alice's childhood, she and her family used to vacation in a cottage called "Penmorfa" (later converted into the Gogarth Abbey Hotel and finally demolished in 2008), on the west coast of Llandudno, North Wales.

Lorina ("Ina") Liddell married in February 1874. Two years later, on June 30, 1876, Edith, the youngest of the sisters, died of peritonitis as a result of measles.

According to Morton N. Cohen in his biography of Lewis Carroll, Alice was the subject of the romantic attention of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, youngest son of Queen Victoria, during the time he was a student at Christ Church. This romance, if it ever existed, did not prosper, since the prince would eventually marry Princess Helen of Waldeck and Prymont. Nevertheless, Leopold would give his first-born daughter the name Alice, and would later be the godfather of Alice Liddell's son, Leopold Reginald Hargreaves. There was, in any case, a friendly relationship between Alicia Liddell and her husband and the Dukes of Albany.

Another Christ Church student, Reginald Gervis Hargreaves, the son of a prosperous businessman, fell in love with Alice and proposed to her. The two were married on September 15, 1880 at Westminster Abbey. Alice became a lady of high society, often giving receptions at her mansion in Cuffnells, Hampshire. The couple had three children: Alan Knyveton Hargreaves, Leopold Reginald "Rex" Hargreaves and Caryl Liddell Hargreaves (Alice always denied that her third son's name was related to Dodgson's nickname, Lewis Carroll). The two eldest were killed in action during the First World War.

Reginald Hargreaves died on February 14, 1926. The lifestyle of the youngest son, Caryl, and the high costs of maintaining the family property in Cuffnells, led Alice to make the decision to sell the autograph manuscript given to her by Lewis Carroll in 1863. Since Lewis Carroll's name was then known worldwide, she obtained a very high sum for it (15,400 pounds sterling) at Sotheby's auction house. The manuscript was acquired by Dr. A.S.W. Roschenbach. Roschenbach, who then sold it to Eldridge R. Johnson. Johnson exhibited the manuscript to the public at Columbia University on the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of Lewis Carroll's birth in 1932.

Columbia University invited Alicia Liddell to this commemoration. Alicia, who was already in her eighties, traveled to the United States in the company of her sister Rhoda and her son Caryl, and participated in the commemorative events, which included an honorary doctorate for her awarded by Columbia University. It is likely that during that visit to the United States she met Peter Llewelyn-Davies, one of the brothers who inspired J. M. Barrie's character Peter Pan, although it was certainly in London, in the Bumpus Store bookshop. She died two years later, on November 16, 1934, in a house she had rented in Westerham, close to her sister Rhoda's. She once confessed to him that she had met Peter Llewelyn-Davies, one of the brothers who inspired J. M. Barrie's character Peter Pan. On one occasion she confessed to him that she was "tired of being Alice in Wonderland". Her family residence, Cuffnells, converted into a hotel after her death, was demolished after World War II.

Carroll's original manuscript was acquired, upon the death of its owner, Eldridge R. Johnson, by a consortium of American bibliophiles and given to the British people "as a token of gratitude to a noble people who kept Hitler single-handedly at bay for a long period." It is now preserved in the British Museum Library.

Dodgson met the Liddell family in 1856. According to entries in his diaries, he first met Mrs. Liddell and her children Harry and Lorina on February 25 of that year. He later befriended little Harry Liddell. His first meeting with Alice took place on March 6, when he went to the Dean's house to photograph the cathedral. According to his diary, he marked that day with a white stone.

She first befriended Harry, the older brother, whom she took with her sister Lorina ("Ina") on various boat trips and picnics around Oxford. Later, when Harry started going to school, Alice and her sister Edith started going on these excursions. Dodgson used to entertain the girls by telling them fantastic tales, and they often posed for him as photographic models, Dodgson's great hobby. It has been claimed that Alice was Dodgson's favorite model, but there is no evidence that this is so. Dodgson's diaries between April 18, 1858 and May 8, 1862, which might shed light on his relationship with the Liddell sisters, have been lost, probably destroyed by the author's heirs.

The relationship between Dodgson and the Liddell family ended abruptly in June 1863. Until the 1990s there was no information about what prompted this breakup, as the Liddells never spoke openly about it, and the page from the author's diaries for June 27, 28, and 29, 1863, the dates on which the breakup supposedly occurred, has been lost (it was torn out by a niece of the author, Menella Dodgson, as she acknowledged several years later).

There has been speculation that Alicia's mother, Mrs. Liddell, disapproved of her daughter's relationship, by now eleven years old, with Dodgson. Morton N. Cohen suggests the idea that Dodgson may have asked for Alicia's hand, or at least made some sort of hint to that effect. Until recently, the only source for what might have happened on those dates was speculation, all of which centered on the idea that the breakup had some sort of connection with Alicia Liddell.

In 1996, Karoline Leach found what has since become known as the "Cut Pages in Diary" document - a note purportedly written by Charles Dodgson's niece, Violet Dodgson, summarizing the missing page from the diaries for June 27, 28 and 29, 1863, apparently written before she (or her sister Menella) tore out the page. The note reads:

It is not clear who the author of this note was. For Leach, the handwriting may be that of one of Carroll's two nieces, Menella or Violet Dodgson. However, Morton N. Cohen states, in an article published in the Times Literary Supplement that, during the 1960s, Philip Dodgson Jacques revealed to him that he himself was the author of the note, for which he based himself on conversations overheard from his aunts. There is currently no evidence to support either possibility.

The exact meaning of this note has also not been determined. However, it seems to imply that the rift between Dodgson and the Liddell family occurred because of an alleged rumor linking Dodgson to the girls' governess and to "Ina," Alice's older sister. The nature of these rumors, and whether or not they were well-founded, are matters that have so far remained unclear.

In any case, relations cooled. Dodgson avoided the Liddell house for about six months, but finally returned to visit the family in December 1863, when he gave Alice the manuscript of his Alice's Adventures Under Ground. But the old cordiality seems to have disappeared, and the friendship would eventually fade altogether, perhaps because Dogson had disagreements with Alice's father, Dean Liddell, over college policy. Other explanations have been given, generally referring to love affairs and broken hearts, but there is no evidence to confirm them.

Dodgson, however, still saw Alice on a few occasions. In 1870, for example, Mrs. Liddell took her daughters Lorina and Alice to the writer's studio for photographic portraits (the last photographs Dodgson took of the sisters). The author still wrote to Alice on several occasions, on one occasion to borrow the manuscript she had given him years before to publish a facsimile edition, which appeared in 1886. The last letter dates from 1892. From that date on, as far as is known, they had no further contact. Dodgson died in 1898.

On July 4, 1862, on a boat trip down the Thames from Oxford to Godstow for a country party, ten-year-old Alice asked Dodgson to tell a story to her and her sisters (Edith, age eight, and Lorina, age 13). While Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed, Dodgson narrated to the girls the fantastic adventures of a little girl named Alice (Alice), who fell down a rabbit hole. Fascinated by the story, which had seemed better than usual, Alice asked Dodgson to write it down for her.

Dodgson took about two and a half years to complete the manuscript, which he illustrated with drawings in his own hand, and gave it to Alice as a gift at Christmas 1864. Even before this, the author had shown the story to fellow writer George MacDonald, who encouraged him to publish it, as Dodgson noted in his diary on May 9, 1863. The McDonald children liked the story very much, and this probably led Dodgson to believe that it could be successful. In October 1863, Dodgson showed the manuscript, entitled Alice's Adventures Under Ground, to the London publisher Alexander Macmillan, who agreed to publish it, and suggested John Tenniel's collaboration on the illustrations. The book, illustrated by Tenniel, finally appeared in 1865, with a changed title: Dodgson preferred to call it Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and signed it with the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, with which he would become famous in the history of literature. Later, thanks to the success of the work, Carroll published a second part, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). In 1886, a facsimile edition of the manuscript that the author had given to Alice appeared, with its original title Alice's Adventures Under Ground.

There is controversy about the extent to which it is possible to identify the Alice of Carroll's book with Alice Liddell. It is clear that the two Alices are not absolutely identical, and, although the traditional view is that the fictional Alice was closely inspired by the real Alice, recent research contradicts this assumption. Dodgson himself explained in later years that his character was entirely imaginary and not at all based on any child; and it is clear that the image of Alice as depicted in Tenniel's illustrations bears no physical resemblance to her.

In fact, there is a rumor that Dodgson sent Tenniel a photograph of another of her childhood friends, Maria Hilton Badcock, suggesting that he use her as a model, but again this rumor has not been satisfactorily confirmed. In fact, no one knows what, if any, reference Tenniel had when creating the character's image in the illustrations. Even Dodgson's own drawings, in the original manuscript, show rather little resemblance to Alice Liddell.

Ana Clark, Alicia's biographer, suggested that the model for these drawings may have been Edith, the younger sister, but there is no way to prove this assumption either.

Whatever role Alice played as the inspiration for the character, the fact remains that the books are dedicated to Alice Pleasance Liddell. At the end of Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There is an acrostic poem that, taking the first letter of each verse, allows one to read the girl's full name. That poem has no title in Alice Through the Looking Glass, but the first line, "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky," is usually taken as the title:

Avanzando soñadoramente En una tarde de julio... Tres niños que anidan cerca, Ojos ávidos y oídos dispuestos, complacidos de escuchar una simple historia... Mucho tiempo ha palidecido ese cielo soleado: Los ecos se desvanecen y los recuerdos mueren. Las heladas de otoño han matado a Julio. Todavía ella me persigue, fantasmagóricamente, Alicia moviéndose bajo cielos Nunca vista por ojos despiertos. Niños aún, el cuento para escuchar, Ojos ávidos y oídos dispuestos, cariñosamente anidarán cerca. En un País de las Maravillas yacen, Soñando mientras pasan los días, Soñando mientras los veranos mueren: Siempre a la deriva por el arroyo... Perdidos en el brillo dorado...

Several contemporary writers have written fictional accounts of Alice Liddell's life. She is one of the main characters in Philip Joseph Farmer's River World series, where she is made to be in love with the famous English explorer Richard Burton, a friend of Mark Twain and an enemy of Hermann Göring.

Canadian poet Stephanie Bolster also composed a collection of poems, White Stone, inspired by her.

The book Whispers by the American author A. G. Howard tells the story of Alyssa, inspired by the story of Alice Liddell, in which the protagonist travels to Wonderland to right the wrongs that her ancestor (Alice Liddell) caused when she went down the rabbit hole.

Katie Roiphe is the author of a fictional account, purportedly based on true events, about the relationship between Alice and Carroll, titled "Still She Haunts Me."

The 1985 film Dreamchild recounts the trip to America for the commemoration at Columbia University mentioned above: through a series of flashbacks, it promotes the widespread idea that Dodgson was romantically attracted to the girl.

In episode 9 of the Warehouse 13 series, the supposed origin of Lewis Carroll's writings is explained.

In American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns video games, she is the protagonist of a story that relates the events that took place after the books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there.

The meeting between Alice Liddell and Peter Llewelyn-Davies has been recreated, in very different ways, in the children's novel Forbidden to Read Lewis Carroll by Diego Arboleda and in the play Peter and Alice by John Logan.

The singer and author Emilie Autumn, in her pseudo autobiographical book "The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls", uses the surname Liddell as her own, referring to the fact that she is a direct descendant of Alice herself. She has been making this use of kinship since the beginning of her career on stage. She also makes many references in performances, concerts and photographs to Lewis Carroll's imaginary.


  1. Alice Liddell
  2. Alice Liddell
  3. Morton N. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, p. 91.
  4. Morton N. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, p. 608.
  5. ^ Susina, Jan (2009). The Place of Lewis Carroll in Children's Literature. Routledge. p. 7.
  6. ^ cited in Leach, Karoline In the Shadow of the Dreamchild, p.201
  7. Isabelle De Meese, Alice au pays des merveilles de Lewis Carroll, Primento, 2014, p. 14-15.
  8. Leach, Karoline In the Shadow of the Dreamchild, p.201
  9. The Cathedral Church of Oxford, a Description of Its Fabric and a Brief History of the Episcopal See, p.101
  10. Consultado em 31 de agosto de 2020  Em falta ou vazio |título= (ajuda)
  11. «lyndchur». 17 de maio de 2011. Consultado em 31 de agosto de 2020

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