Saturday 5 March 2016

Alice in the British Library

150 years on

While in London to visit a newly arrived grandchild and his parents, I've had the opportunity to visit the British Library and view the wonderful exhibition mounted to celebrate 150 years of Alice in Wonderland.The giant luggage tag hanging in the foyer promises a journey into the heart of the making of and the interpretations of this story throughout the years.

An inspiring collection is displayed showing the work illustrated in different manners and modes. There's the original illustrations by Tenniel, and adaptations of these by a variety of artists.

  • The flapper 20s style has the pack of cards kicking up their heels in a becoming manner. 
  • Who would have thought that during the London blitz the Mad Hatter's tea party would be illustrated with 'rations in a Molotov bread basket'? 
  • Another version has Alice as a Brownie peering seriously into that hole. Also on display are the versions illustrated by Mabel Lucie Atwell and Ralph Steadman.

The original handwritten text has its own display case telling the story of the American purchase from the estate of Alice Liddell to the ultimate return to the British Library as recognition of the role of Britain during the second World War.

Posters of the Cheshire cat in pyschedelic colours reflect the 60s. Puzzles, games and cards based on the book are also on display along with Disney interpretations of the story.

As no photography was permitted within the exhibition area I have relied on a few notes made on my phone. Maria Popova's Brain Pickings post here provides a look at the works of some illustrators. Those who are in London before April 17th have the opportunity to enjoy these treasures brought together by the British Library.  The excellent Treasures of the British Library is always on display in the gallery.

I leave you with the two versions of Alice near the entrance to the inevitable pop-up shop that accompanies the exhibition. The second picture is a collection of bookmarks I could not resist, after all...We're all mad here!
Alice outside the pop-up shop



  1. How I wish I could teleport myself and see this exhibition. Thank you so much for taking me down the rabbit hole.

    1. It was fun indeed on a bleak London winter's day!


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