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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 150th birthday, Alice

On July 4, 1862, a 30-year-old mathematician named Charles Dodgson told three little children a story

And Alice in Wonderland was born.

The children were Lorina, Edith, and Alice, daughters of Henry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

Dodgson had become close friends with Liddell's wife (also named Lorina), and had adopted the habit of taking her children on rowing trips, and it was on one of these that the story was told.

Little Alice Liddell was so taken with the fanciful yarn that she begged Dodgson to write it down, which he did, presenting her with a handwritten, illustrated manuscript called "Alice's Adventures Under Ground."   Before he had finished it, however, he had shown it to a friend, George Macdonald, who had read it to his many children.  Because of the enthusiasm of his progeny, Macdonald persuaded Dodgson to submit a copy for publication.

The publisher was Macmillan, who liked it immensely.  In 1865 the book was launched with the title of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, under the "Lewis Carroll" penname, and with illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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