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Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland

June 26 through October 12, 2015*

This exhibition will bring to light the curious history of Wonderland, presenting an engaging account of the genesis, publication, and enduring appeal of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

For the first time in three decades, the original manuscript will travel from the British Library in London to New York, where it will be joined by original drawings and letters, rare editions, vintage photographs, and fascinating objects—many never before exhibited.

The enchanting tale of Wonderland was first told “one golden afternoon” to Alice Liddell and her two sisters. Delighted by the fantastic world of logic and nonsense inhabited by rabbits in waistcoats and playing card gardeners, Alice begged for a written copy of her namesake's adventures under ground. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll) painstakingly wrote out the story, illustrating the original manuscript with his own pen and ink drawings.

Revised and radically expanded, it appeared in 1865 as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with the iconic illustrations of Sir John Tenniel. But Tenniel was dissatisfied with the printing quality, and the edition was suppressed almost immediately. Now, only twenty-two or twenty-three copies of the first edition are known to survive. It was quickly republished, and Tenniel's brilliant drawings (markedly different from Carroll's own) and their relationship to the text contributed to the initial and enduring success of the book.

From here, the ethos of Alice and the universe of Wonderland took hold of our imagination, and—150 years later—we are still following her down the rabbit hole.

This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Rudy and Sally Ruggles, the American Trust for the British Library, the Caroline Macomber Fund, and the Peter and Susan Solomon Family Foundation, with additional assistance from the Young Fellows Project Fund, Jon A. Lindseth, and the Charles E. Pierce, Jr. Fund for Exhibitions.

John Tenniel (1820–1914), Nothing but a pack of cards! 1885, Hand-colored proof. Gift of Arthur A. Houghton, Jr., The Morgan Library & Museum, Photography by Steven H. Crossot, 2014.