Alice Day wonders inspire lots of Cheshire Cat smiles

Oxford Mail: Will Cronk (Tweedle Dum), Andy Wickens (Tweedle Dee) and Emma Fleming (Alice) of Brookes University’s The Fortune Tellers perform outside the Museum of Natural History in Parks Road Buy this photo Will Cronk (Tweedle Dum), Andy Wickens (Tweedle Dee) and Emma Fleming (Alice) of Brookes University’s The Fortune Tellers perform outside the Museum of Natural History in Parks Road

ONE GOLDEN afternoon on July 4, 1862, Oxford don Charles Dodgson took 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boating trip up the Thames from Folly Bridge in Oxford.

The story they created that afternoon became Alice in Wonderland and sparked a revolution in children’s literature. On Saturday, to celebrate the man known to millions by his pen name Lewis Carroll, Oxford held its eighth Alice Day.

Staff at The Story Museum in Pembroke Street organised events across the city.

Miniature Alices, dressed as their heroine, had faces painted at Boswell’s department store and joined a storytelling session at Oxford Castle.Four-year-old Layla Derardja said: “I like Alice – she is a girl like me.”

 

Oxford Mail:

  • Layla Derardja and Maya Dworecka

Maja Dworecka, five, added: “I dressed up as a rabbit because there is a rabbit Alice chases down a big hole.”

Layla’s mum Barbara Chamera, who runs Millefeuille café in Cowley Road, said: “We had so much fun last year, it’s a good family day and most things are free.”

This year is the 150th year since Dodgson delivered his final manuscript to his publisher, and next year will be the 150th anniversary of its publication.

Oxford Town Hall hosted an Alice exhibition, while Oxford Castle’s O3 art gallery put on a show of surreal art inspired by the adventures, called Underland.

Professional storyteller Rachel Rose Reid, who led the session at the castle, said: “I’ve been telling stories of adventurous creatures and children. That curiosity and daring which is in Alice’s nature is popular in children’s tales around the world.

“There are a lot of cautionary tales that discourage children from taking risks, so it’s nice to have a heroine who celebrates it.”

The Story Museum itself hosted craft activities and a talk by Mark Richards, former chairman of the Lewis Carroll Society.

Co-director Tish Francis said: “Alice is the patron saint of children’s literature.

“It was a significant turning point in children’s literature to have a child at the centre of the story. Now it is celebrated all over the world. Every moment of every day some bit of his language is used.”

This year The Story Museum decided for the first time to work with the organisers of Cowley Road Carnival to “share the weekend”.

Ms Francis added: “They both involve dressing up – people just want to be given a licence to add a flourish to their dress.”

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