Apparently Alice was a real little girl who knew mathematician and Oxford Professor Charles Dodgson. Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll) was friends with Alice’s family (her father was Dean of Christ Church at Oxford and as such her family lived on campus in the Deanery). Charles Dodgson would often take her and her sisters out for canoeing trips and picnics. Along with hanging out with little girls (weird? Maybe?) Dodgson was also an avid photographer, when photography was in its infancy, who took lots of photos of his “friends” aka the little girls. Whether this is creepy has yet or ever to be fully determined. I mean, it seems creepy, but cultural mores were different back then, so who knows? The book deals with this a bit, but does not say that Dodgson actually was a creeper of some sort.
It was on one of their outings that Dodgson told Alice and her sisters the story of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. Alice then begged him to write down his story, which eventually he did. One of the crazy things about Alice is that when she grew up, she almost married into the royal family via Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s youngest son. However, that was not to be, as the queen desired a royal match for her son.
Another interesting thing I learned about Dodgson is that his first telling of Alice’s Adventure Under Ground did not feature some of the classic scenes we know today. It wasn’t until later that he added the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party or the Caterpillar Hookah scene etc. As I’ve delved into learning more, I’ve learned that Dodgson’s story about Alice might actually be about math! (AKA my arch-nemisis!!!)
Apparently Dodgson wasn’t happy with the new math that was coming of age during his tenure at Oxford. The ideas about negative numbers or invisible numbers were crazy to Dodgson. He thought math should be based in physical reality (you know, fingers and toes and what not. At least that’s my reality). According to this article (some of which is completely over my head as I’m an idiot about math), Alice in Wonderland may have been a satire expressing Dodgson’s ridicule of this new math. And this is why so many of those scenes were nonsensical because Dodgson thought the new math was nonsensical. And it goes even deeper, if you read the article it explains that the way the scenes are set up are intended to actually represent recent ideas in the field of mathematics. Like..how math actually works! Waaay over my head.
Pretty crazy, right?! You’re welcome! Also AIW is totes not about drugs. Sorry drug enthusiasts! They didn’t even have drugs in the olden days. Just some old opium and what not. What they had though, was crazy math. Trippin’ math. Math will get you high. That’s why I avoid math, it’s some kind of weird scary nonsensical faux-reality. Terrifying.