Carroll’s letter to Tom Taylor

Carroll wrote to Tom Taylor, the Victorian dramatist and editor of Punch magazine, to ask for help in “fixing on a name” for his fairy tale

Ch. Ch. Oxford
June 10. 1864

My dear Sir,

You were kind enough
to wish me to let you know
some while before I came
to town on my photographic
visit, that you might see
whether you could entrap
any victims for me. My
plans are not definitely
settled yet, but, so far as I
can see, I shall be in
town on or before the 20th
(though I could come sooner
If there were reason to do so.)
After that I shall be
photographing at various
friends' houses for 2 or
3 weeks.— I am obliged
to speak vaguely, as my
plans will be liable to
change from day to day.—

I have many children
sitters engaged—among
others, Mr. Millais', who will
make most picturesque subjects.

Believe me
Ever yours truly
C. L. Dodgson

P.S. I should be very glad
If you could help me in
fixing on a name for my
fairy-tale, which Mr.
Tenniell (in consequence
of your kind introduction)
is now illustrating for me,
& which I hope to get
published before Xmas. The
heroine spends an hour
underground, & meets various
birds, beasts & (no fairies)
endowed with speech. The
whole thing is a dream, but
that I don't want revealed
till the end. I first thought
of “Alice's Adventures
Under Ground,” but that
was pronounced too like
a lesson-book, in which
instruction about mines
would be administered in
the form of a grill: then
I took “Alice's Golden
Hour,” but that I gave
up, having a dark suspicion
that there is already
a book called “Lily's Golden Hours.”

Here are other names
I have thought of:

Alice among the { elves goblins

Alice's { hour doings adventures

in { elf-land wonderland.

Of all these I at present
prefer “Alice's Adventures
in Wonderland.” In spite of
your “morality,” I want
something sensational. Perhaps
you can suggest a name
better than any of these.

Lewis Carroll (1832–1898)
Letter to Tom Taylor, signed and dated Christ Church, Oxford, 10 June 1864
Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations