1. Alice is named after a real-life Alice – the 10-year-old daughter of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University Alice Liddell, who heard, along with her two sisters, the very first version of the tale during a boat trip on the Thames, and begged Carroll to write it down. Alice’s copy of the story is now on display in The British Library.
2. There are even diseases named after the book: Alice In Wonderland syndrome (AWS), where sufferers perceive parts of their body to be changing size, and Alice In Wonderland-like syndrome (AWLS), where people misperceive the size and distance of objects around them.
3. Lewis Carroll himself suffered from these diseases, but it took until 1955 for English psychiatrist John Todd to discover the disease and give it its memorable name.
4. The original 1864 handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland contained illustrations by Lewis Carroll himself – and they weren’t half bad.
5. Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.
6. The Alice novels were banned in China in 1931, because they believed that ‘animals should not use human language’.
7. Look closely at the DoDo bird’s flame when he lights his pipe at the White Rabbit’s house in the 1951 adaptation and you should see a Mickey Mouse flickering away.
8. The several TV and film adaptations of the book have a total of two Oscar wins, four primetime Emmys and several Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations to show for their various successes.
9. The book’s riddle, ‘Why is a raven like a writing desk?’ is total nonsense. It was written by Carroll, who insisted there was no answer.
10. That hasn’t stopped several people trying to guess the answer. The most popular theories include: ‘Because Edgar Allan Poe wrote on both’, ‘Because there’s a B in both and an N in neither’ and ‘Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes’.
11. The tree that supposedly inspired the Cheshire Cat’s tree is in the garden behind the real-life Alice’s home at Christ Church College, Oxford.
12. After reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Queen Victoria asked Carroll to dedicate his next book to her – which he did with An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations.
13. Before getting its famous title, the novel was originally called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.
14. The book and various films have all been interpreted as making reference to drug abuse, with Alice drinking potions, eating mushrooms and hallucinating as if she were on LSD, all while the world around her changes frighteningly and her mood and perceptions are hugely altered.
15. Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 psychedelic song White Rabbit also goes along with the drug theme, with lyrics including ‘One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small / And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all’ and ‘When the men on the chessboard get up / And tell you where to go / And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom / And your mind is moving low / Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.’
16. However, there is no evidence that Lewis Carroll was under the influence of any opium or other drugs while writing the book, and it’s probable that readers themselves, especially in the 1960s, assigned their own meanings to the text.
17. The tale has also been seen by psychoanalytical critics as a metaphor of childbirth, with Alice travelling down the rabbit hole (conception), growing in a confined space (pregnancy) and drinking potions (amniotic fluid) and finally escaping to explore the scary world outside on her own (childbirth).
18. Since it was first published, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland has never been out of print and has been translated into nearly 200 languages.
19. Lewis Carroll was also a Professor of Maths at Oxford University. You can see several mathematics and logic influences in the book: for example, when the Cheshire cat fades until it disappears, leaving only a grin suspended in midair and Alice says that she has seen a cat without a grin, but never a grin without a cat. This apparently reflects ancient questions in logic about substances and predicates.
20. While he created his characters, Carroll took inspiration from people he knew in real-life: he is the Dodo, because he stuttered when he spoke, while the Lory and Eaglet refer to Alice Liddell’s sisters Lorina and Edith.
21. The Mock Turtle sings ‘Turtle Soup’, which was a real dish during the 1860s.
22. Despite Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland being a huge commercial and publishing success, the book allegedly wasn’t well received when it was first published. It received negative reviews and was not named in an 1888 poll of the most popular children’s stories. However, after the sequel, Through the Looking Glass, it became increasingly popular with literary critics and reviewers.
23. A young Oscar Wilde was a fan of the book, which is high praise indeed.
24. Lewis Carroll’s personal copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – one of only six original 1865 editions known to exist – was sold for a record $1.54 million in 1998, which, with inflation, would be worth around $2.24 million today – the equivalent of about £1.4 million in British pounds. That could buy you a pretty swanky flat in Mayfair last time we checked.
25. Rocker Marilyn Manson’s album ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’ is a direct reference to the cake and potion that Alice had to consume after falling down the rabbit hole.