The Story of the Real Alice

Alice and her two sisters, Lorina and Edith, liked to escape their governess and play in the Deanery gardens where Lewis Carroll would take photographs. It was while they were playing in the Deanery gardens that they met Carroll for the first time on April 25th 1856.

The three girls became very interested in his photographs and even allowed Carroll to take photos of them. Alice originally became known for her portrait as a beggar girl at the age of 6, taken by Carroll but inspired by his favourite living poet at the time, Alfred Lord Tennyson. Carroll would attend outings and boating parties with the three girls and their parents, often telling the girls stories as entertainment. It was during a boat trip up the Thames to Godstow on July 4th 1862 that he told the girls the story of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, a tale that enthralled Alice so much that she begged Carroll to pen down. On Christmas day 1864, Alice opened a gift that would soon change her life. It was the finished product of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, complete with hand drawn illustrations by Carroll himself.

Alice Liddell

Every day Carroll would visit the girls but this stopped abruptly in the summer of 1863 without any known reason. Alice grew up to be both beautiful and cultured, and soon caught the eye of Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s youngest son. Queen Victoria would never allow them to marry and insisted prince Leopold marry a princess. Alice later married Reginald Hargreaves, a student at the college, and went on to have three sons with him.

Terrible grief struck the family when their two oldest sons were killed while fighting in the First World War. Their father never recovered from the anguish and died in 1926. Alice still lived a social and cultural life but fell upon hard times and sold her Alice memorabilia including the original manuscript given to her by Lewis Carroll. It sold for £15,400 to an American dealer, but in 1948 was given back to the United Kingdom by well-wishers from the United States, and is now in the British Museum.

The trip was exhausting but not as draining as the amount of fan mail flooding in from all of her Alice fans and the invasion of journalists wanting to know the real Alice. However in 1934 Alice Liddell died and was cremated with her ashes interred in the family grave in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England.


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