Alice in Wonderland is one of my all-time favourite stories and I love its many incarnations, from the Disney cartoon right through to the immersive theatrical experience of Alice's Adventures Underground, which I had the pleasure of experiencing a few months ago (followed by the Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea at Sanderson London, it was a fab Alice-themed day!). And so when I heard about the new exhibition at the British Library celebrating 150 years since the first publication of the classic novel – which showcases the original handwritten and illustrated manuscript by Lewis Carroll at its centre – I knew I had to make a trip down there as soon as possible!
I love the British Library, it's an impressive building with a great permanent exhibition. Located steps away from King's Cross Station it's only a few tube stops from my home and so it made for a perfect Sunday afternoon outing last week (although I did have brunch with a friend beforehand in the West End, but the journey back from King's Cross was nice and short).
As soon as we entered the building, Alice was everywhere. From the pop-up shop on the right-hand side through to a large banner pointing the way to the exhibition just straight ahead. The exhibit starts with a wondrous journey through some classic illustrations and fun facts of the novel, before entering a section with glass cases showcasing beautiful manuscripts, letters, different publications and illustrations of the iconic characters and even a handful of memorabilia.
There was some really interesting information displayed, from the incredible business sense of Carroll that led to Alice memorabilia being created just a few years after the original publication of the book through to learning that despite being from the 1950s, the Disney adaptation actually wasn't received well and didn't gain popularity until the 1970s/1980s (which explains why I love it so much, as I was born in the '80s!). One of my highlights was a set of stunning pop-art inspired posters of the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit and I was gutted that they weren't reproduced as postcards or on any merchandise in the shop as I'd love to have a copy to cherish.
Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside the part of the exhibition with the manuscripts and memorabilia, and so you definitely need to visit yourself to have the opportunity to see the beautifully intricate handwritten and illustrated original manuscript Lewis Carroll created for Alice Liddell, the young girl Lewis originally told the story to, among many other beautiful editions throughout the decades as well as other memorabilia. However, I was able to take a few snapshots of the initial tumble into wonderland, which included some fun facts and beautiful illustrations showcasing the change in the depiction of the iconic characters throughout the years, which really set the mood for the rest of the exhibition.
The Alice in Wonderland exhibition will be at the British Library until 17 April 2016, and the pop-up shop (which is well worth a visit in its own right!) will stay open until 31 January 2016. What is your favourite Alice in Wonderland character?