More than 152 years ago, on an afternoon in July, a young mathematician named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson took a boat ride down the river Isis with three sisters, Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church College, where Dodgson was a scholar throughout his life.
While on the boat ride, Dodgson told a fantastic tale of a girl named Alice who followed a white rabbit down a rabbit hole and into Wonderland.
Alice and her sisters loved the story so much they asked him to write it down.
Two years later, he finally presented 11-year-old Alice Liddell with a handwritten manuscript titled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.
The book received such a rapturous reception Dodgson was encouraged to publish it the following year under the pen name with which he would become world famous: Lewis Carroll.
After enlisting satirical sketch artist John Tenniel to illustrate the book – creating the iconic illustrations of a blonde-haired Alice – the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in November 1865.
To mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of arguably the most beloved children’s book of all time, State Library Victoria has acquired the only known first edition copy of the book in Australia.
The first edition was acquired in August with public donations raised as part of our annual appeal this year.
Together with a first edition of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There which was donated in 2012 by Victorian County Court Judge Graham Anderson and his wife Anita, the first edition will be on display within our permanent Mirror of The World exhibition within the Dome Galleries from this Saturday October 10th.
Both books will be on display alongside a facsimile of the original manuscript published for a charitable appeal in 1886, and a number of other rare editions of Alice from within our collection, – including foreign language versions, a Marvel comic edition from the 1970s and an Indigenous language edition illustrated by Donna Leslie.
Within the Mirror of the World exhibition changing over this month, there are over 200 new rare books including material dating back from 2050 B.C. through to the present day.
The exhibition includes:
The first display of material from the John Emmerson Collection including the collected writings of King James I, in a binding personalized for his son Charles (who would go on to become King Charles I), the first major city newspaper ever produced, the London Intelligencier, and pamphlets reporting the trial and execution of King Charles I, and significant literary editions of John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1688) and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1620).
Four South-east Asian Muslim manuscripts from the Michael Abbott Collection gifted to the Library in 2012 by Adelaide QC Michael Abbott, a passionate collector of South-east Asian art. The collection preserves fragile Islamic religious texts and commentaries.
A display on James Joyce’s 1922 masterpiece Ulysses featuring several early editions of the book alongside more recent illustrated interpretations.
Award-winning Melbourne-based author Sonya Hartnett will also have a display dedicated to her work, including handwritten sketches, a marked up type manuscript and the uncorrected advance proof of her latest Miles Franklin shortlisted novel Golden Boys.
Significant editions of atlases and maps that facilitated global exploration in the 17th and 18th centuries including John Flamsteed’s celestial atlas, a copy of which was used by Captain James Cook during his voyages in the South Pacific.
Finally, Mirror of The World this year will include a special display to mark the 50th anniversary of the Print Council of Australia founded in 1966, which celebrates print in all its forms. The display features the highlights from the PCA’s Print Commission Archive acquired by the Library in 2012 alongside treasures from our collection of Australian artist books.
The Mirror of the World exhibition is free and open every day on Level 4 of the Dome Galleries. Further information on the Mirror of the World exhibition and curators talks around Alice, visit slv.vic.gov.au