Literature Ballet Join Wonderment Alice Comes To Capital

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A rare first issue of the first edition of the children's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and original costume visuals from a new Scottish Ballet production of the famous tale, will feature in a new display at the National Library of Scotland.

The 'Alice in Wonderland treasures display' launches on Friday (18th March) and features a host of items relating to the 1865 book and its author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who penned it under the pseudonym 'Lewis Carroll'.

Key exhibits include a rare copy of the withdrawn 1865 first issue; the author hastily withdrew the first print run of 2,000 copies following complaints about the quality of the printed illustrations from their creator John Tenniel. Few copies have survived, and the Library's copy is in the original red cloth binding.

Stephanie Breen, senior curator, National Library of Scotland, said: "The 'Alice in Wonderland treasures display' is a unique opportunity for enthusiasts to get up close to a very rare issue of the book and other treasures which are seldom seen.

"Visitors will have a wonderful opportunity to view the first and second editions side by side and examine the differences in printing between the withdrawn 1865 Alice, printed at the Clarendon Press, and the subsequent 1866 edition, printed by Richard Clay as a replacement." 

Other highlights in the treasures display include a first edition of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872) signed by Alice Pleasance Hargreaves (née Liddell) - the original inspiration for 'Alice' - and various letters from Dodgson (Carroll).

The display also features a behind-the-scenes film montage of rehearsals from the pending Scottish Ballet production, and original costume and set visuals from Alice which will be held at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh from next month. Visitors will also have a chance to win tickets to the production by entering a competition at the Library.

Catherine Cassidy, Associate Director Education, Scottish Ballet, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Library of Scotland and are particularly excited about reaching new audiences through both the display and our first ever backstage live stream event on 21st April."

Viewers will catch a glimpse of life behind the scenes at Scottish Ballet directly before the Company's performance of Alice in Edinburgh Festival Theatre and this event can be viewed live at the National Library with a post stream discussion as well from the Scottish ballet website. This event must be booked in advance, online at or by calling 0131 623 3918.

The 'Alice in Wonderland treasures display' will be open to the public from March 18-May 2. For further information log on to

For more information on the Scottish Ballet's production of Alice (April 20-23) log on to  




Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of the National Library of Scotland



Notes to editors

About the National Library of Scotland

  • The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and is the world's leading centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots - an information treasure trove for Scotland's knowledge, history and culture with millions of items.
  • The Library's collections are of world-class importance. Key areas include rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, moving images, official publications, business information, digital collections, science and technology, and the modern and foreign collections.
  • The Library holds well over 14 million items, including printed items, approximately 100,000 manuscripts, over 32,000 films and nearly 2 million maps. Every week it collects approximately 6,000 new items. Around 80% of these are received free of charge in terms of the Legal Deposit legislation.
  • See for further information about the Library and its collections



Alice in Wonderland


  • Alice's adventures in Wonderland began on a summer's day in 1862. The Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) took three little sisters, Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, on a boating trip and invented for them the tale about Alice down the rabbit hole. Three years later, in 1865, he published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland under the pseudonym 'Lewis Carroll'.
  • The famous artist John Tenniel (1820-1914) supplied the illustrations, engraved by the Dalziel Brothers.
  • Dodgson created his pseudonym by playing with the Latin form of his first two names (Carolus and Ludovicus) and putting them in reverse order.
  • Lewis Carroll set out to entertain rather than instruct his young readers. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, along with its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, have become much-loved children's classics, whose storylines and memorable characters need no introduction. The books remain in print today, and translations and adaptations abound.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 by Macmillan and Co. The famous artist John Tenniel (1820-1914) supplied the illustrations, engraved by the Dalziel Brothers. The author withdrew the first print run of 2,000 copies printed by the Clarendon Press, Oxford.


Highlights of the display


  • A presentation copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1866) showing a poem composed by the author for Marion Terry (1853-1930). Along with her sister Ellen Terry, Marion became a successful actress.
  • The first version of the Alice story to appear in colour, The Nursery "Alice" (1890). The book was adapted for younger readers by Dodgson and accompanied by twenty colour versions of John Tenniel's original illustrations.
  • First editions of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There  (1872) showing the White Knight frontispiece and the Jabberwock illustration. Dodgson initially considered Tenniel's Jabberwock, intended for the frontispiece, 'too terrible a monster' for his young readers.
  • An 1893 advertisement apologising for the printing of the illustrations in the latest issue of Through the Looking-Glass and requesting holders of copies to return them for exchange. Charles Dodgson wanted his readers to have nothing but 'the best workmanship attainable for the price'.
  • A copy of The Hunting of the Snark  (1876) presented by Dodgson to the actress Marion Terry (1853-1930)
  • Dodgson was a keen inventor and some interesting inventions in the display are The "Wonderland" Postage-Stamp-Case  (first published 1890) and The Game of Logic (1887).
  • In 1907, forty-two years after its first publication, Macmillan's exclusive copyright of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ended in Britain. A host of publishers issued the work with new illustrations. Arthur Rackham, Alice Ross, Charles Robinson, Gwynedd M. Hudson and Barry Moser are some of the illustrators whose work features in the display.