Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to "Alice in Wonderland") is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the "literary nonsense" genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre.
Alice was written in 1865, exactly three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames with three young girls:
Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13, born 1849)
("Prima" in the book's prefatory verse)
Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10, born 1852)
("Secunda" in the prefatory verse)
Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8, born 1853)
("Tertia" in the prefatory verse).
The three girls were the daughters of Henry George Liddell, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church as well as headmaster of Westminster School. Most of the book's adventures were based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church, e.g., the "Rabbit Hole" which symbolized the actual stairs in the back of the main hall in Christ Church. It is believed that a carving of a griffon and rabbit, as seen in Ripon Cathedral, where Carroll's father was a canon, provided inspiration for the tale.
The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. To while away time the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that, not so coincidentally, featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure.
The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. After a lengthy delay — over two years — he eventually did so and on 26 November 1864 gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself. Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson himself when he printed a more elaborate copy by hand (Gardner, 1965), but there is no known prima facie evidence to support this.
But before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party. In 1865, Dodgson's tale was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by "Lewis Carroll" with illustrations by John Tenniel. The first print run of 2,000 was held back because Tenniel objected to the print quality. A new edition, released in December of the same year, but carrying an 1866 date, was quickly printed. As it turned out, the original edition was sold with Dodgson's permission to the New York publishing house of Appleton. The binding for the Appleton Alice was virtually identical to the 1866 Macmillan Alice, except for the publisher's name at the foot of the spine. The title page of the Appleton Alice was an insert cancelling the original Macmillan title page of 1865, and bearing the New York publisher's imprint and the date 1866.
The entire print run sold out quickly. Alice was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. Among its first avid readers were Queen Victoria and the young Oscar Wilde. The book has never been out of print. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into 125 languages. There have now been over a hundred editions of the book, as well as countless adaptations in other media, especially theatre and film.
The book is commonly referred to by the abbreviated title Alice in Wonderland, an alternative title popularized by the numerous stage, film and television adaptations of the story produced over the years. Some printings of this title contain both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and, What Alice Found There.