FDU marks 150 anniversary of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’


Above: A portion of the "International Alice" exhibit in the Monninger Center, celebrating the 150 anniversary of the classic novel, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." (Photos by Dan Landau)


By Dan Landau

From animator Walt Disney to musician Marilyn Manson, the book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” has influenced many since its publication in 1865. Written under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, Charles Dodgson’s work has filled popular culture with vivid pictures and characters, such as the smiling Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts who screams, “Off with their heads!”

alice6Above: Covers of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" in many languages.


To mark the 150th anniversary, of the book, the Monninger Center at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus has a display of Alice in Wonderland books and memorabilia. The exhibit, “International Alice,” features copies of “Alice” in several of the more than 170 different languages it has been translated into. The collection is on exhibit until December 22.

“Alice’s” publication “marked a major turning point in the development of children’s literature,” says Marilyn Rye, associate professor of English. “It was the first children’s book written not to convey a lesson, but to be read only for the pleasure of reading it. Since then, many readers, both children and adults, have read ‘The Tale of Wonderland’ for its wit, playfulness in language, and unexpected twists and turns of the plot.

“Its characters and oft-quoted lines have become cultural and literary reference points in later literary works and the ‘Alice’ books are often credited as an early influence on the development of fantasy literature,” continues Rye.

alice7Above: "Alice" in Thai.


Dodgson’s book has a surprising origin story: A skilled amateur photographer, he frequently photographed the Liddell sisters — Lorina, Alice and Edith. During photo sessions, he entertained them with fantastical stories he created on the spot. One day when Alice was 10 years old, she asked for a new story, hoping “there will be nonsense in it.” Dodgson obliged young Alice and eventually collected the “nonsense” stories he told her and her sisters into “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” 

Students can also explore “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” further in Rye’s class LITS 3021 “Victorian Age.”