Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a work of literary nonsense written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit-hole into a fantastic realm populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures.
The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends (and enemies), and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize. The tale plays with logic in ways that have made the story of lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense, and its narrative course and structure has been enormously influential, mainly in the fantasy genre.
The book is commonly referred to by the abbreviated title Alice in Wonderland. This alternative title was popularized by the numerous film and television adaptations of the story produced over the years. Some printings of this title contain both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.
Alice was first published on 4 July 1865, exactly three years after Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames with three little girls: Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell. The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford, England and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. To while away time Dodgson told the girls a story that, not so coincidentally, featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure.
The girls loved it and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He eventually did so and on 26 November 1864 gave Alice the manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground. Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson himself when he printed a more elaborate copy by hand (Gardner, 1965), but there is no real evidence to support this.
According to Dodgson's diaries, in the spring of 1863 he gave the unfinished manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground to his friend and mentor George MacDonald, whose children loved it. On MacDonald's advice, Dodgson decided to submit Alice for publication. Before he had even finished the manuscript for Alice Liddell he was already expanding the 18,000-word original to 35,000 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party. In 1865, Dodgson's tale was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by "Lewis Carroll" with illustrations by John Tenniel. The first print run of 2,000 was destroyed because Tenniel had objections over the print quality. (Only 23 copies are known to have survived; 18 are owned by major archives or libraries, such as the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, while the other five are held in private hands.) A new edition, released in December of the same year but carrying an 1866 date was quickly printed.
The entire print run sold out quickly. Alice was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. Among its first avid readers were young Oscar Wilde and Queen Victoria. The book has never been out of print. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into 125 languages, including Esperanto and Faroese. There have now been over a hundred editions of the book, as well as countless adaptations in other media, especially theatre and film.