Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pound]2m for the Real Story of Alice in Wonderland

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pound]2m for the Real Story of Alice in Wonderland

Article excerpt


THE story of Alice Pleasance Liddell, the "real" Alice in Wonderland, is seen by many as more fascinating than the fiction she inspired.

Whether the enchanting child from Oxford was the victim of an obsession on the part of Lewis Carroll, or it was all as sweet and simple as the tales in the children's favourite storybook, the true value of her role in literary history is about to be determined. A sale of Liddell's personal effects this summer is expected to raise around [pound]2 million.

A previously unseen collection of photographs, papers, books and other items, amassed by Liddell and several generations of her family, is expected to excite interest from across the globe in the sale at Sotheby's on 6 June.

One of the most interesting items is a photograph album tipped as the most important Carroll-related collection in existence. It is expected to sell for as much as [pound]800,000. Carroll was fascinated by portrait photography and the album contains a series of images he took of Alice and her sisters during the late 1850s, as well as some of himself and his Oxford contemporaries.

Also on offer will be Alice's personal copy of the Wonderland story; a version so early it is entitled Alice's Adventures Under Ground. Carroll inscribed it "to her whose namesake one happy summer day inspired his story".

It is estimated that it will fetch between [pound]200,000 and [pound]300,000.

Other personal mementoes include a letter sent by Carroll to Liddell and which, of 11 surviving, is the only one still in private hands.

It was written to her in 1891, by which point she was the 39-year-old Mrs Alice Hargreaves, and shows Carroll yearning for the little girl he once knew.

After inviting her and her husband to tea, Carroll writes: "It is hard to realise that he was the husband of one I can scarcely picture to myself, even now, as more than seven years old. …

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