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Alice's Adventures In Wonderland: History, Story Timeline, Chapter Summaries, Classroom Lesson Plans and Activities



Dodgson turns a baby into a pig through the principle of continuity. Bayley, M. (2009), The Mathematical Meaning of Alice in Wonderland. New  Scientist. 204(2739), 38-41.



Fantastic as it was, “Wonderland” was rooted in the place Charles Lutwidge Dodgson lived and worked: the city and environs of Oxford with its ancient university, its “dreaming spires” and its surrounding countryside. Oxford is a city teeming with tourists and traffic, whose shop windows, in the sesquicentennial year of “Wonderland,” overflow with Alice merchandise; but if one listens closely, if one ducks through stone arches, opens creaky oaken doors, and descends to quiet riverside paths, one can still find the Oxford of Charles Dodgson and Alice.

Charles Lovett in the New York Times, Footsteps, Travel section article: Finding Alice's 'Wonderland' in Oxford sets out  to discover this place, beginning with the college of Christ Church, where Dodgson lived from 1851 until his death in 1898 at age 65 and Alice lived from the time she was 3 until her marriage in 1880.

Lovett, C. (2015, November 15). Finding Alice's 'Wonderland' in Oxford. New York Times. pp. 1-7.


The article Alice's Real Wonderland explores the origins and historical context of the characters and story in the book "Alice in Wonderland," written by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson). Emphasis is given to river trips and sites in Oxford, England, Llandudno, Wales and Cheshire, England where it is suggested Carroll drew inspiration for his story for friend Alice Liddell.

Hopley, C (2011). Alice's Real Wonderland. British Heritage, 32(3), 34-37.


What would Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland be without the Cheshire Cat, the trial, the Duchess's baby or the Mad Hatter's tea party? Look at the original story that the author told Alice Liddell and her two sisters one day during a boat trip near Oxford, though, and you'll find that these famous characters and scenes are missing from the text.

Melanie Bayley, the author of the article, Mathematical Meaning of Alice in Wonderland wanted to know what inspired these later additions. There was no detailed analysis of the added scenes, but from the mass of literary papers, one stood out: in 1984 Helena Pycior of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee had linked the trial of the Knave of Hearts with a Victorian book on algebra. 

The 19th century was a turbulent time for mathematics, with many new and controversial concepts, like imaginary numbers, becoming widely accepted in the mathematical community. Putting Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in this context, it becomes clear that Dodgson, a stubbornly conservative mathematician, used some of the missing scenes to satirize these radical new ideas.

Melanie Baylet ventures that without Dodgson's fierce satire aimed at his colleagues, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland would never have become famous, and Lewis Carroll would not be remembered as the unrivaled master of nonsense fiction.

Bayley, M. (2009). The Mathematical Meaning of Alice in Wonderland. New Scientist. 204(2739), 38-41.


David Day in his critical essay Oxford in Wonderland explains that from the beginning, it was apparent that beneath the fairy tale level of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland there was a strong element of autobiography and satire of mid-Victorian satiety. It was fairly obvious that the characters and places in Wonderland had a counterpart in Oxford. All of Lewis Carroll's biographers and literary critics delve to some degree into this kind of historical "Who's Who" of the Alice books. Some of these Carroll identified himself; others he was at pains to keep secret. Nevertheless, if we walk carefully in Alice's footsteps, some fascinating new characters will step into the light. It began "all in a golden afternoon" with a real boating excursion on July 4, 1862, on the Isis, a branch of the Thames River passing though Oxford, when two young college dons rowed and picnicked with three pretty adolescent girls on their journey upriver from Folly Bridge to Godstow village.

As Lewis Carroll always acknowledged, the real Alice" was Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford. The young college dons were the Reverend Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth. During the expedition, the three girls--Lorina, Alice, and Edith Liddell (aged 14, 10, and 8)--begged Dodgson to tell them a story. And so began the tale of a little girl named Alice who chased a rabbit down a hole and discovered Wonderland.

But Alice is not the only little girl in that real boating party to appear in Wonderland . After nearly drowning, in a "Pool of Tears," Alice finds herself happily chatting with two strange talking birds as if "she had known them all her life." In fact, the birds are reincarnated Wonderland versions of her sisters. Edith has become the Eaglet, and Lorina is the Lory (or Lorikeet--a small parrot). Nor is this the last we will see of them; they reappear in the Dormouse's story of "three little sisters ... named Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie." That is, "three Liddell sisters": Lorina Charlotte (initials L.C.), Alice (anagram of Lacie), and Edith (pet name Matilda).

These Wonderland characters were mostly harmless parodies of a private nature that might have been fabricated by the author for any ordinary child. But, Alice Liddell was no ordinary child, and Oxford was at the very core of Victorian Britain's academic, ecclesiastic, and political life. Most of the other characters in Wonderland are satirical caricatures of some of the most significant figures of Victorian society. And as the daughter of the most influential educator of the age, Alice Liddell knew nearly all of them personally.

Day, David. Oxford in Wonderland. Queen's Quarterly, vol. 117, no. 3, 2010, p. 403+.

Alice's Adventures Under Ground

Alice's Adventures Under Ground

Alice's Adventures Under Ground, the original manuscript of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

The story, which began life as "Alice's Adventures Under Ground," was first told to Alice and her sisters, Lorina and Edith, on a trip down the river on July 4, 1862.  The children enjoyed the story so much that Alice asked Dodgson to write it down for her.  Written in sepia-colored ink and including 37 pen and ink illustrations and a colored title page the manuscript was presented to Alice as an early Christmas present on November 26, 1864.  Dodgson was not an artist and had some difficulties with the illustrations.  He pasted a photograph od Alice over a drawing of her that he had included.  The original drawing would not be seen again until it was uncovered in 1977.  The photograph is now attached to a paper flap, enabling readers to see the illustration beneath.


Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

Alice: 1864 - 1872

Rodney Engen in Alice: 1864 - 1872 charts the collaboration between Tenniel and Lewis Carroll throughout the publishing history of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

With the last Tenniel illustration completed and Dodgson's approval of a specimen printed page and dummy volume bound in bright red cloth to appeal to his child readers, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was ready for final publication. By the end of June 1865 the Clarendon Press had printed 2,000 copies. Dodgson had the first one bound in white vellum which he presented to Alice Liddell at the deanery to mark the third anniversary of their famous river journey together.  Satisfied with the copies he saw there, he inscribed about twenty for presentation to his closest friends.

Dodgson's satisfaction with the original printing was shattered by a letter he received from Tenniel in mid-July, after he had received his first copy. It was written in an alarmed tone, in which Tenniel explained he was "entirely dissatisfied with the printing of the pictures".

Several weeks passed until (on 2 August) it was decided to withdraw the first edition and reprint. Dodgson wrote to those friends he had already sent copies to ask for their return, "as the pictures are so badly done". The new edition appeared by November 1865, still in time for Christmas and safely dated 1866.

Engen, R. (2009). Alice 1864-1872. In T. Burns (Ed.), Children's Literature Review (Vol. 146). Detroit: Gale. (Reprinted from Sir John Tenniel: Alice's White Knight, pp. 67-99, 1991, Aldershot, England: Scolar Press) Retrieved from

The Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: 150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

The Annotated Alice 150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is a richly illustrated and expanded edition of Mark Garner's "The Annotated Alice" to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The Annotated Alice 150th Anniversary Delux Edition includes:

  • A rare, never-before-published portraIt of Francis Jane Lutwidge, Lewis Carroll's mother.
  • Over 100 new or updated annotations, collected since the publication of Martin Garner's Definitive Edition of The Annotated Alice in 1999.
  • More than 100 new illustrations, in vibrant color, by Salvador Dali, Beatrix Potter, Ralph Steadman and 42 other arTists and illuStrators, in addition to the original artwork by sir John Tenniel.
  • A preface by Mark Burstein, president emeritus of the Lewis Carroll society of North America and all of Gardner's introductions to other editions.
  • A filmography of every Alice-related film by Carroll scholar David Scharfer.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Story Timeline


  • Alice goes down the rabbit hole.
  • Alice fails to get into the special garden.
  • Alice drinks a mystery drink and shrinks.
  • Alice eats a cake and grows large.
  • Alice cries and makes a pool of tears in the room.
  • Alice fans herself with the White Rabbit's fan and shrinks again.
  • Alice falls into a pool and gets wet.
  • Alice joins a Caucus-race to get dry.
  • Alice goes on an errand to the White Rabbit's house, drinks another mystery drink, and gets stuck in a room of the house.
  • Alice eats pebbles that turn into cakes and shrinks again.
  • Alice meets a Caterpillar that teaches her to eat a mushroom to control her size.
  • Alice attends a Mad Tea Party.
  • Alice visits the Duchess and rescues a baby.
  • Alice meets the Cheshire-Cat in the forest.
  • Alice returns to the hall and finally gets into the beautiful garden.
  • Alice joins a game of croquet with the Queen of Hearts.
  • Alice is introduced to the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon.
  • Alice attends a trial for the Knave of Hearts.
  • Alice grows large again and brushes away the deck of cards.
  • Alice wakes up at her sister's side and relates her adventures.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Chapter Summaries


Chapter One – Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice, a girl of seven years, is feeling bored and drowsy while sitting on the riverbank with her elder sister. She then notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole when suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit through, but through it she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle on a table labelled "DRINK ME," the contents of which cause her to shrink too small to reach the key which she has left on the table. She eats a cake with "EAT ME" written on it in currants as the chapter closes.

Chapter Two – The Pool of Tears: Chapter Two opens with Alice growing to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling. Alice is unhappy and, as she cries, her tears flood the hallway. After shrinking down again due to a fan she had picked up, Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him in elementary French (thinking he may be a French mouse) but her opening gambit "Où est ma chatte?" ("Where is my cat?") offends the mouse and he tries to escape her.

Chapter Three – The Caucus Race and a Long Tale: The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away by the rising waters. Alice and the other animals convene on the bank and the question among them is how to get dry again. The Mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Alice eventually frightens all the animals away, unwittingly, by talking about her (moderately ferocious) cat.

Chapter Four – The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill: The White Rabbit appears again in search of the Duchess's gloves and fan. Mistaking her for his maidservant, Mary Ann, he orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve them, but once she gets inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes. Alice eats them, and they reduce her again in size.

Chapter Five – Advice from a Caterpillar: Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a blue Caterpillar smoking a hookah. The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. Before crawling away, the caterpillar tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her normal height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.

Chapter Six – Pig and Pepper: A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, lets herself into the house. The Duchess's Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess, and her baby (but not the cook or grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. Alice is given the baby by the Duchess and to her surprise, the baby turns into a pig. The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare's house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.

Chapter Seven – A Mad Tea-Party: Alice becomes a guest at a "mad" tea party along with the March Hare, the Hatter, and a very tired Dormouse who falls asleep frequently, only to be violently woken up moments later by the March Hare and the Hatter. The characters give Alice many riddles and stories, including the famous 'Why is a raven like a writing desk?'. The Hatter reveals that they have tea all day because Time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time). Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.

Chapter Eight – The Queen's Croquet Ground: Alice leaves the tea party and enters the garden where she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because The Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen. The Queen, a figure difficult to please, introduces her trademark phrase "Off with his head!" which she utters at the slightest dissatisfaction with a subject. Alice is invited (or some might say ordered) to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then orders the Cat to be beheaded, only to have her executioner complain that this is impossible since the head is all that can be seen of him. Because the cat belongs to the Duchess, the Queen is prompted to release the Duchess from prison to resolve the matter.

Chapter Nine – The Mock Turtle's Story: The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground at Alice's request. She ruminates on finding morals in everything around her. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and she introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which the Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.

Chapter Ten – Lobster Quadrille: The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster". The Mock Turtle sings them "Beautiful Soup" during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.

Chapter Eleven – Who Stole the Tarts?: Alice attends a trial whereby the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court's trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger. The dormouse scolds Alice and tells her she has no right to grow at such a rapid pace and take up all the air. Alice scoffs and calls the dormouse's accusation ridiculous because everyone grows and she cannot help it. Meanwhile, witnesses at the trial include the Hatter, who displeases and frustrates the King through his indirect answers to the questioning, and the Duchess's cook.

Chapter Twelve – Alice's Evidence: Alice is then called up as a witness. She accidentally knocks over the jury box with the animals inside them and the King orders the animals be placed back into their seats before the trial continues. The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 ("All persons more than a mile high to leave the court"), but Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar "Off with her head!" but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards; just as they start to swarm over her. Alice's sister wakes her up from a dream, brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice's face. Alice leaves her sister on the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.

Classroom Lesson Plans

Down The Rabbit Hole Lesson Plan 

Noting that Alice in Wonderland's journey is not unlike the experience of an immigrant who relocates to a new country, this lesson plan uses passages from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," along with various history texts, class discussions of students' experiences, and primary source documents and images from the American Memory collections, to help students uncover the common themes of the immigrant experience. This 6-activity lesson plan for 6th through 8th grades is applicable for American History, Language Arts, and English as a Second Language. Through the lesson, students will be able to: understand common themes of the immigrant experience, such as pushes and pulls, encountering differences, and assimilation; identify the common themes of the immigrant experience in a primary source oral history or narrative; draw conclusions about the themes of the immigrant experience by analyzing primary source photographs; and reinforce and extend understanding of the immigrant experience by creating a primary source photographic exhibit.

Johnson, M., Thompson, L., & Library of Congress, W. D. (2002). Down the Rabbit Hole. Learning Page Lesson Plan.

Alice in Wonderland Lesson Plan

Based on Lewis Carroll's novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," this lesson plan presents activities designed to help students understand that he used nonsense and absurdity to comment on reality; and that surrealist painters are also known for including absurd elements in their works. The main activity of the lesson involves students discussing and writing about how both Carroll and the surrealist painters comment on reality. It includes objectives, materials, procedures, adaptations, discussion questions, evaluation methods, extension activities, annotations of suggested readings and web links, vocabulary, and related academic standards and benchmarks addressed in the lesson plan. The lesson plan also contains a description of a video clip related to the lesson, comprehension questions related to the video clip, and answers to those comprehension questions.

Heyman, J. B., & Discovery Communications, I. M. (2002) "Alice in Wonderland." Lesson Plan.

Surrealism in Children's Literature 

The surrealist movement and its encompassing criticism is generally confined to the realm of adult art and literature, but the elemental appeal of its absurdist philosophy and redefinition of reality has resulted in a broad range of children's works dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. 

Within the context of children's literature, the surrealist method has manifested itself in fantastic, but puzzling narratives that contrast altered realities with our own. In a typical surrealist children's text, a young protagonist is thrust into a magical plane of existence, cast among an odd array of creatures and individuals that are almost anomalistic equivalents of those one would find in reality. Unique from the typical fantasy worlds utilized in children's literature, the surrealist novel or picture book is often characterized by its use of poetic nonsense language and a distinct set of rules that the child must learn in order to function "normally" in the new environment. Perhaps the most famous example and the wellspring for the use of surrealism in books for children is Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
Like many books for young people, surrealist children's literature often contains a message behind its absurdist surface. But fundamentally, the message in these surrealist texts is often meant to signal that the world--for all its difficulties, curiosities, and occasionally frightening moments--is not such a daunting place and can be navigated by even the youngest reader.
"Surrealism in Children's Literature." Children's Literature Review, edited by Tom Burns, vol. 103, Gale, 2005.

Classroom Activities

Students in Wonderland

For the last two years, my third graders have taken a wonderful theatrical journey that leads to reading, writing, music, art and other areas of the curriculum. They've created and produced their own version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

The journey begins with different characters from Wonderland visiting the classroom to describe to the students their point of view in the story. For example, I "visit" the classroom dressed as the White Rabbit, complete with long, white bunny ears and whiskers. After each character's visit, the children write down their reactions in an "Alice" journal.

These journals play an important part in the development of the production and help us follow through with each student's ideas. In the journals, the children respond daily to what's taking place in the classroom. They also record all activities, and even design their own costumes and sets.

Next, we read as much grade-appropriate literature about Lewis Carroll's story as we can find. We discuss the similarities and differences in what we read. The children note in their journals things they'd like to carry over to our own story.

Schooley, M. (1995). Students in Wonderland. Teaching Prek-8, 25(7).

Paper Folding, Bento and Tea Parties

Over the past six years in my job as a public librarian, my most enthusiastic group of teens crowding into the Teen Room and attending programs Have been the members of my Japanese manga and anime club. Out of all the teens and programs I coordinate, the manga and anime club members can be counted on to attend and then clamor for more events highlighting and exploring their favorite mediums.

We're All Mad Here!

When considering a special event for the manga and anime club last fall, my teens clamored for an opportunity to l) dress up, and 2/ eat (no surprise on either front). Inspired by the frequent references in manga and anime to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, I suggested a traditional - but slightly mad - tea party. The teens exploded with approval, and over the next few meetings they planned their outfits and debated which versions of characters they wanted to try. Many manga creators - including QuinRose and Soumei Hoshino, creators of the recent popular Alice in the Country of Hearts series - draw inspirations from Carroll's world, but I reassured everyone they wouldn't be critically judged based on the authenticity of their outfits. I encouraged club members to go back to the source and consider Alice's original adventures, as well as manga, for costume and character ideas.

Brenner, R. (2013). Paper folding, bento, and tea parties. Knowledge Quest, 41(3), 42-49.