Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll attended Christ Church at Oxford and this is where he found inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
The character of Alice is based on a girl called Alice Liddell, who was the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church at the time.
The Alice stories were first created one legendary ‘golden afternoon’ on 4 July 1862. While entertaining the three Liddell sisters, Alice, Lorina and Edith, during a boating trip, Dodgson improvised the story that would become Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
In the dining hall at Christ Church, there is a tiny tribute to Alice in Wonderland in the stained glass. In the bottom left of one of the stained glass panels is a small Alice in Wonderland with long blonde hair in her iconic blue dress. In the centre of the panel is a girl’s face and this is Alice Liddell.
If you are an Alice in Wonderland fan you can read more of the real story behind the book here.
Truth be told, I’m not one of those fans and we do not own a copy of Alice in Wonderland but I do find the story behind the story very interesting. It’s interesting to me how books by C.S. Lewis, Beatrix Potter, and Carroll stemmed from letters they sent to young ones in their lives or from entertaining the children in their lives.
Across the street from Christ Church is Alice’s Shop.
Formerly the grocer’s where Alice Liddell would buy her favorite barley sugars and the inspiration for the Old Sheep Shop in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (1871), when Alice finds herself: in a little dark shop, leaning with her elbows on the counter, and opposite to her was an old sheep, sitting in an arm-chair knitting.’ from Walking Oxford 1,000 years of history in 8 walks by Vicky Wilson. I highly recommend this guide book if you are going to spend some time in Oxford.
As we walked out of our tour and headed back to St. Aldate’s via Broad Walk (the tourist entrance to Christ Church College) we noticed this quotation inscribed on the path from John Bunyan’s, The Pilgrim’s Progress.
My Sword I Give to Him That Shall Succeed In My Pilgrimage. ~ John Bunyan
Speaking of John Bunyan, we visited Blackwell’s Bookstore and their famous Norrington room in the basement, the largest bookselling room in the world. Hmm…but not one book by John Bunyan to be had in this huge collection of books. I wanted to buy a copy of The Pilgrim’s Progress while in England but I had no success.
We did find a copy of Grace Abounding ~ The Life and Death of Mr. Badman by Bunyan in St. Philips Books for ten pounds. This bookstore was a couple shops away from Alice’s shop. A very small shop.
I’m in the process of reading The Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s not a quick read for me. It was first published in 1678.
Here are some of the descriptions written about The Pilgrim’s Progress;
An enormously influential 17th-century classic, universally known for its simplicity, vigor, and beauty of language, The Pilgrim’s Progress remains one of the most widely read books in the English language.
The Pilgrim’s Progress, religious allegory by the English writer John Bunyan, published in two parts in 1678 and 1684. The work is a symbolic vision of a Christian man’s pilgrimage through life. At one time second only to the Bible in popularity, The Pilgrim’s Progress is the most famous Christian allegory still in print.
John Bunyan: Born at Elstow, near Bedford, in 1628, the son of a brazier. Served in the Civil War on the Parliamentary side. Became a preacher in 1657; and pastor of a congregation in Bedford, 1671. Intermittently imprisoned for preaching from 1660 to 1672, and again in 1675. Died in London on 31st August 1688.
Have you ever read The Pilgrim’s Progress?