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About Us

Alice's Day

Alice's Day once again saw Oxford transformed for one day only into a Wonderland of Nonsense. And there's still plenty more fun to be had with our online content, including a draw-along with Chris Riddell and Cerrie Burnell. Scroll down the page for more details.

This year we took Alice outdoors, in giant puppet form! Our brand new Alice puppet wandered the streets of Oxford, accompanied by some very chatty talking flowers inspired by the Looking-Glass Garden of Live Flowers! Meanwhile the Red Queen demanded complete obedience from anyone who encountered her as she rode her Dodo about the streets. Scroll through a digital version of the programme to see what was on offer at venues across Oxford, including the Ashmolean, the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford Botanic Garden, Blackwell's Bookshop, Alice's Shop, Oxford Waterwalks and The Story Museum.

“We really enjoyed exploring the city and seeing all the costumes and soaking up the atmosphere!”
Alice’s Day Participant

Alice's Day online

We want everyone to have the chance to celebrate Alice's Day so don't worry if you didn't manage to make it to Oxford, we've got some brilliant online activity too!

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Through the Looking-Glass draw-a-long with Chris Riddell and Cerrie Burnell

YouTube video of Story Museum patron Chris Riddell in conversation with fellow patron Cerrie Burnell in a Looking-Glass themed draw-along.

Ghostly Mirrors

Recreate a Victorian ghostly stage trick, using a reflective surface and a shoebox, and download a new Alice-themed Museum trail on the History of Science Museum's website. You can also find out more about Charles Dogson - the real man behind the pen name Lewis Carroll who was a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church Oxford, and a successful amateur photographer.

Mirror Writing Challenge

Lewis Carol loved word-play. In ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ he writes about Alice’s adventures in the back to front world of Looking-Glass Land. Can you help Alice decode the words and have a go at writing your own secret message using mirror writing? Download the Museum of Oxford's handy activity sheet to have a go.

Return to Wonderland

What happens in Wonderland when Alice isn't there? More than 150 years since Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published, leading children's authors Piers Torday and Amy Wilson talk with Nicolette Jones about returning to Wonderland without Alice and imagining alternative universes - a timely tonic for these unreal times. Watch the video recorded for Alice's Day 2020

Riddles with Peter Chand

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Lewis Carroll loved composing logic puzzles, riddles and nonsense poems. Join Story Museum artist-in-residence Peter Chand as he takes you on a journey through some of his favourite riddles and stories. Click here for Peter's Riddles recorded for Alice's Day in 2020

How it all began

One golden afternoon on 4 July 1862, Charles Dodgson, an Oxford don, took the 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boating picnic up the River Thames from Folly Bridge in Oxford. To amuse the children he told them a story about a little girl, sitting bored by a riverbank, who finds herself tumbling down a rabbit hole into a topsy-turvy world called Wonderland.

The story so delighted Alice that she begged him to write it down – the result was the 1864 handwritten manuscript Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. This original manuscript, which was prepared as a gift for Alice Liddell, is now in the British Library and is available to view on their website. The following year the manuscript was published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pen name Lewis Carroll, with illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. A sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, was published in 1871.

Alice’s Day commemorates an important moment for children’s literature and for Oxford. Alice became one of the most popular, most widely quoted and most widely translated children’s book ever written, with editions even in Esperanto and shorthand. It marked the birth of modern children’s literature. After Alice, children’s books became less stuffy and more entertaining. Oxford became a world centre of children’s stories and inspirational home to many authors and illustrators including Kenneth Grahame, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Philip Pullman.

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Curiouser and curiouser?

Looking for more Alice-themed resources? Here's a selection of links to more information and activities.

V&A Museum's Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition July - December 2021

Cheshire Cat Chromatography with the Lightyear Foundation and Dr Sarah Bearchell

Highlights of the 1903 film of Alice in Wonderland from the BFI Archive

A short biography of Sir John Tenniel

Story Museum Patron, Dame Marina Warner's article Curiouser and Curiouser about Lewis Carroll's original illustrations as part of Tate Liverpool's 2011 exhibition on Alice in Wonderland