January 24, 2023
No, it is not his “un-birthday”! January is the month to celebrate famed writer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll. Who was he? Dodgson was born on January 27, 1832, in Daresbury, Cheshire, England.
Did you know that he was a brilliant mathematician? Did you know that he was ordained as a deacon but refused to accept becoming a priest? Did you know that he was an inventor? Did you know that there was a real young woman, Alice Liddell, said to be the inspiration for the titular character in his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
Did you know that Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass have been adapted over 100 times? This includes television series, plays, musicals, ballets, operettas, and movies. While the Wonderland and Looking-Glass world may prove weird and unusual, did you know that every character in the books and rhymes has a reason? Allegedly, Carroll is said to have imagined himself as the Dodo bird, partially because no one could pronounce Dodgson’s last name correctly. True to the Cheshire Cat, I have a riddle for you. See if you can find the acrostic poem honoring Alice at the end of Through the Looking-Glass.
Check out this list for many more books, movies, and CDs about Carroll’s life, Wonderland, Looking-Glass, and poems. Explore Scholastic Teachables for a very special story-mapping activity you can do at home (search “Alice in Wonderland”).
One of the coolest visual versions of Wonderland is Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ballet, which you can watch here for free through medici.tv. I promise you won’t be disappointed with the lavish costumes, enchanting music, amazing magical effects, and the fantastic dancing! If you want to read, watch, or check out more information about Mr. Dodgson or his works, look into TeachingBooks, for a host of wonderful texts about Mr. Carroll.
Lastly, let me leave you with a taste of Wonderland’s lasting legacy:
…Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream?
From the poem “A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky” at the end of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Red Bridge Branch