Front cover of an 1899 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (sometimes re-published under the title Alice in Wonderland) is a children's fantasy novel of twelve chapters, written by the British author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pen name of Lewis Carroll. It was first published in 1865. It is a revised and expanded version of the novel Alice's Adventures Under Ground, the manuscript of which Carroll presented to twelve-year old Alice Liddell on November 26, 1864.

The novel's protagonist is a young girl named Alice who follows a talking white rabbit down its hole. Alice falls through the Earth and finds herself in Wonderland, a strange underground world which is populated by many unusual characters, including other talking animals, legendary beasts and living playing cards. During her time in Wonderland, Alice grows and shrinks several times, using magical food and drink in order to change her size.

Although the book is for children, many scholars have found criticism, parody and humor about the society in which Carroll lived in it.

There have been numerous adaptations of the novel, including stage plays, television series, comic books, animated cartoons and live action films. One of the best known adaptations remains the 1951 animated version from Walt Disney. The most recent movie adaptation, directed by Tim Burton, was released in 2010.

A sequel to the novel, Through the Looking-Glass, was published in 1871.


Alice follows the White Rabbit, illustration from a 1910 Polish translation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The color was not part of the original printing and was probably added by a child.

On a hot day in May, the little girl Alice is relaxing with her older sister by a river bank. Alice sees a white rabbit. She is not surprised when she hears the Rabbit say, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late", but she is surprised when she sees that it is wearing a waistcoat and has a pocket watch. She decides to follow the Rabbit and goes after it down a rabbit-hole. She is able to follow a tunnel for a short while before she begins to fall for a long time. While she is falling, Alice begins to worry about her cat Dinah and wish that the cat were with her.

When Alice finally lands, she sees the Rabbit again. Following him, she finds herself in a hall with many doors, all of which are locked. On a glass table, Alice sees a key. She finds that it does not fit the locks on any of the doors, until she finds another smaller door hidden behind a curtain. Alice unlocks the door and sees a beautiful garden. She wants very much to go into the garden but is much too big to go through the door. On the glass table, she finds a bottle with a label which reads, "Drink me". After drinking the contents of the bottle, Alice shrinks until she is small enough to go through the door. However, she finds that she has left the key on top of the table and is now too small to reach it. Under the table, she finds a cake with the words, "Eat me" on it. After Alice eats the cake, she grows to be nine feet tall. She is able to pick up the key but has no chance of going through the door into the garden. Alice begins to cry and her tears form a pool.

Alice sees the White Rabbit again, carrying gloves and a fan and muttering about "the Duchess". Alice tries to speak to him but he runs off in fear, leaving the gloves and fan behind. Alice begins to become concerned about the changes that she has gone through and wonders if she is till the same person. She tries to recite her multiplication tables but they come out wrong. She tries to recite the poem "How Doth the Little Busy Bee" but recites one about a crocodile instead. Alice suddenly notices that she has become very small again, the result of fanning herself with the fan which the Rabbit dropped. She tries to go back to the little door but suddenly finds herself in a pool of salt water, which she realizes was caused by the tears that she cried after she grew.

The Mouse and Alice in the Pool of Tears. 1916 illustration by Milo Winter.

A Mouse is also in the Pool of Tears with Alice. She tries to speak to it but frightens it by talking about her cat Dinah and discovers that it does not like dogs either. The Mouse says that it will explain why it does not like dogs when they get to shore.

Alice, the Mouse, a Dodo and several other birds and animals that fell in the Pool of Tears swim to shore. The Mouse tries to dry them all by reciting "the driest thing" it knows, an account of how William the Conqueror consolidated power in England. When this does not work, the Dodo suggests a Caucus-race. A circular race track is drawn on the floor and all the participants can start and stop running whenever they like. After thirty minutes, when all the participants are dry, the Dodo declares that the race is over and everybody has won.

The Mouse is called on to speak again. Alice asks to hear why it does not like dogs. It says, "Mine is a long and sad tale". Alice thinks that the Mouse is talking about its tail, at which she looks intently while the Mouse is speaking. The Mouse eventually accuses Alice of not paying attention and leaves in a huff. When Alice mentions her cat Dinah again, all of the birds leave too and Alice is left alone.

The White Rabbit reappears, looking for the gloves and fan which he dropped. He mistakes Alice for his housemaid Mary Ann and tells her to go back to his house to fetch a replacement fan and gloves. Alice enters a house with "W. Rabbit" on the door. She finds a fan and gloves but then notices another bottle. After drinking from it, Alice grows until she is a thousand times bigger than the Rabbit and much too big to fit comfortably in the room. She sticks one of her feet up the chimney and one of her arms out of the window. When the White Rabbit and his Irish gardener Pat come near her, she picks them up and throws them to the ground. A lizard called Bill is sent down the chimney but Alice kicks him back up it and into the air. A crowd of animals gather and throw stones at the window. When the stones fall to the floor, they change into cakes, Alice eats the cakes, shrinks again, gets out of the house and runs away.

The Caterpillar and Alice. 1865 illustration by John Tenniel, colorized for the 1890 book The Nursery "Alice".

Having become only three inches tall, Alice is keen to find something to eat or drink which will return her to her normal size. She sees a mushroom, only later noticing that there is a caterpillar sitting on top of it and smoking a hookah. When the Caterpillar asks her, "Who are you?", Alice does not know what to answer. She explains that she has been through many changes that day and could not remember the poem "How Doth the Little Busy Bee". The Caterpillar asks her to recite "You Are Old, Father William". After Alice does so, the Caterpillar comments, "It is wrong from beginning to end". As the Caterpillar leaves, it says, "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter", adding, "Of the mushroom" some time later. Alice discovers that eating from the left side of the mushroom makes her larger, while eating from the right makes her smaller. She takes pieces from both sides of the mushroom for future use.

Alice returns to her normal height, but then makes herself slightly smaller again to enter a four-foot high house. Alice sees a footman with a face like a fish arrive at the house and present a letter to a footman with a face like a frog. The fish-faced footman explains that it is an invitation from the Queen for the Duchess to play croquet. After taking the invitation, the frog-faced footman continues to sit outside the house. When Alice approaches, he tells her that she cannot go inside because he is not there to open the door. Alice eventually decides to ignore the footman and opens the door anyway.

The Cook, the Duchess, her baby and the Cheshire Cat. 1907 illustration by Brinsley Le Fanu.

As soon as she opens the door, Alice finds herself in a kitchen. Inside are the Duchess, her baby son, her cat and the Cook. The air is thick with pepper because the Cook is putting far too much of it into a pot of soup. Everybody is sneezing, except for the Cook and the cat, which is smiling. The Duchess explains that her cat is grinning because it is a Cheshire Cat and Cheshire Cats always grin.[1] The Duchess appears to have no love for her son and to be a thoroughly bad-tempered person. The Cook begins to throw kitchen utensils at the Duchess and her baby. The Duchess throws the baby to Alice, announcing that she has to get ready for her croquet game. Alice realizes that she has to get the baby out of the house for its own protection. Shortly after she does so, the baby begins to grunt. Looking again, Alice finds that the baby has turned into a pig and it trots away.

Words between Alice and the Cheshire Cat.

The Cheshire Cat suddenly reappears in a tree in front of Alice. When Alice asks it which way she should go, it tells her that the March-Hare lives in one direction, a Hatter lives in the other and both of them are mad. The Cat adds that all people in Wonderland are mad, including Alice herself. The Cat vanishes and reappears two more times to inquire after the Duchess' baby. When Alice asks it not to disappear and reappear so quickly, the Cat obliges by vanishing slowly, starting with the tip of its tail and ending with its grin.

Alice, the March Hare, the Dormouse and the Mad Hatter. Colorized version of an 1865 illustration by John Tenniel.

Having decided to go to the March-Hare's house, and having eaten a little of the mushroom to grow slightly bigger, Alice finds the March-Hare, the Mad Hatter and a Dormouse, having a tea party and all sat at one end of a large table. Even though there are plenty of empty spaces, they are not happy when Alice sits down to join them. Alice eventually discovers that the Mad Hatter had a falling out with Time, as a result, it is now always tea time for him and there is never time to wash the dishes, hence the large table with many empty places. The March-Hare and Mad Hatter call on Alice to tell them a story. When she says that she cannot, the Dormouse instead begins to tell the story of three sisters who lived at the bottom of a treacle well and were learning to draw pictures of things that begin with "M". The Dormouse asks Alice if she has ever seen a picture of a "muchness". Alice replies, "I don't think...", upon which the Mad Hatter tells her that, in that case, she should not talk. Insulted, Alice leaves. Shortly afterwards, she notices a door in a tree. Entering it, Alice finds herself in the beautiful garden at last.

Alice meets the Queen of Hearts. 1907 illustration by Charles Robinson.

In the garden, Alice sees three gardeners, the playing cards the Two, Five and Seven of Spades, painting red the roses of a white rose tree which they mistakenly planted. The Knave, King and Queen of Hearts arrive at the end of a long parade of playing cards. The Clubs are the Queen's soldiers, the Diamonds are her courtiers and the Hearts are her ten children. When the Queen discovers what has happened to her rose tree, she orders that the three gardeners be beheaded. Alice hides them in a large flower pot. A soldier tells the Queen that the gardeners heads are gone (meaning that he cannot find them). The Queen is satisfied with this and invites Alice to play croquet with her.

Before beginning the croquet game, Alice finds out from the White Rabbit that the Duchess is in prison for boxing the Queen's ears. Alice has great difficulty playing the game of croquet in which flamingos are used as mallets, hedgehogs are used as balls and the playing card soldiers form themselves into hoops. She is happy when the Cheshire Cat's head appears and she can talk to someone. The King of Hearts and the Cat take an instant dislike to each other and the Queen orders it executed. The executioner complains that he cannot cut off the Cheshire Cat's head because it does not have a body. The King insists that anything with a head can be beheaded. Alice says that it is the Duchess' cat and that they should fetch her from prison. In the confusion, the Cheshire Cat vanishes.

The Duchess is happy to see Alice again and behaves completely differently in the garden to how she did in her own home. Alice concludes that it must have been the pepper which made her bad-tempered. However, Alice does not like the Duchess' company, partly because she keeps saying, "the moral of that is", although none of the morals that she comes up with make any sense. When the Queen returns, she orders that the Duchess leave immediately.

The Mock Turtle, Alice, and the Gryphon. 1907 illustration by Arthur Rackham.

The Queen asks Alice if she has met the Mock Turtle, from which mock turtle soup is made.[2] The Queen wakes up a sleeping gryphon and orders him to take Alice to the Mock Turtle. On the way, the Gryphon tells Alice that he finds the Queen funny because she is always ordering people to be beheaded but somehow they are always all pardoned and nobody is ever executed.

The Mock Turtle tells Alice that he was once a real turtle. He went to school under the sea and danced "The Lobster Quadrille", which he and the Gryphon demonstrate for Alice. They ask Alice to tell them her adventures. They listen attentively to her account of everything that has happened that day, until she gets to the point where the Caterpillar told her that she recited "You are Old, Father William" incorrectly. They ask her to recite "'Tis the Voice of the Sluggard", but the poem which Alice recites is about lobsters, owls and panthers. Deciding not to make Alice recite any more, the Mock Turtle is called on to give them a song. He begins to sing "Beautiful Soup". A distant cry is heard of, "The trial's beginning!" Alice and the Gryphon run off, leaving the Mock Turtle still singing.

The Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing some tarts which the Queen made.[3] The King of Hearts is the judge, Bill the Lizard and eleven other creatures are the jury and the White Rabbit acts as a herald and adviser to the judge. The first witness to be called is the Mad Hatter. He offers no evidence of any kind and is so nervous that he bites into his teacup instead of his bread and butter and shakes so much that his shoes come off. The second witness is the Duchess' Cook. The King asks the Cook what tarts are made of. She replies, "Pepper mostly". The Dormouse disagrees, saying they are mostly made of treacle. The Queen of Hearts orders that the Dormouse be removed from the Court. In the confusion, the Cook leaves. The third witness to be called is Alice.

Alice has begun growing back to her normal size. When she stands up, she knocks over the jury box and the King says, "Rule 42: All persons more than a mile high to leave the court". However, Alice insists that is not a genuine rule and stays, even though she has no useful evidence to offer either.

The playing cards attack Alice. 1907 illustration by Arthur Rackham.

The White Rabbit announces that he has some important evidence in the form of a letter from the Knave of Hearts. The letter is found not to be signed by the Knave of Hearts and not to be in his handwriting. It consists of a poem, which the White Rabbit reads aloud. The King insists that the poem has some bearing on the case, in spite of the objections of Alice, who is continuing to grow.

The trial appears to be coming to an end. The Queen wants a sentence to be handed down before the verdict is reached. Alice tells her this is wrong. The Queen gets angry but Alice only says, "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards". All of the playing cards leap into the air and fall on top of Alice, who tries to brush them off. Alice notices that her sister is brushing some dried leaves off her and realizes that she has been dreaming.

Alice tells her sister about her dream before going home for tea. Left on her own, Alice's older sister enjoys thinking about the dream of Wonderland, even though she knows it is all nonsense. She begins to sadly ponder the fact that her sister will have to grow up one day, although she is sure that Alice will retain some childlike qualities and may one day entertain future children with her story of Wonderland.


Alice as she appears in Disney's 1951 film Alice in Wonderland.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into some sixty languages, including Welsh, Cornish, Scots, Swahili, Hawaiian, Yiddish, Esperanto and Latin. Lewis Carroll himself adapted the novel for younger children as the 1890 book The Nursery "Alice". Numerous other authors have written works inspired by the story of Alice, including sequels and parodies.

The first stage adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was a musical, approved by Carroll himself, with book by H. Saville Clark and music by Walter Slaughter. It was first performed at London's Prince of Wales Theatre on December 23, 1886. There have subsequently been many more stage versions of the story, including other musicals, straight dramas, operas, ballets and traditional British pantomimes[4]

Fifty-three different film and television adaptations of the novel, both live-action and animated, were released between 1903 and 2014. Many of these adaptations also include characters, ideas and situations from Carroll's later work Through the Looking-Glass, such as references to the poems "Jabberwocky" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter".

In recent years, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has also inspired comic books and manga, role-playing and video games.

See also



  1. The phrase "to grin like a Cheshire cat" predates Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It first appeared in print in 1788 in Francis Grose's A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue. According to Grose, it is "said of any one who shows the teeth and gums in laughing". The origin of the phrase is unknown.
  2. Mock turtle soup was developed in 18th century England as a cheaper alternative to turtle soup, the flavor and texture of which it imitates. It is made of calves' heads and feet. For that reason, John Tenniel (the book's first illustrator) and many subsequent illustrators depicted the Mock Turtle with the head and hind legs of a calf.
  3. The idea for this comes from a poem called "Queen of Hearts" which was first published anonymously in 1788. The White Rabbit recites the poem thus:
    The Queen of Hearst, she made some tarts,;;
    All on a summer's day.
    The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts,
    And took them, quite away.
  4. A British pantomime is a kind of musical comedy stage performance intended for a family audience that is usually performed at Christmastime and the start of the New Year. Pantomimes usually include, songs, dance, slapstick comedy, topical humor and a lot of audience participation. Most pantomimes are loose adaptations of well-known stories that are familiar to children, such as the fairy tales of Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, tales from One Thousand and One Nights, Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or Robinson Crusoe.

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