Through the Looking Glass: The Many Alices of Wonderland

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Wonderland? I have the strangest sense that we’ve been here before.

What began as a child’s story created by a young man during his time spent with his boss’ children in the 1850s has become a cherished classic – and time and again, its likeness has proven that it has staying power.

Lewis Carroll (or Charles Dodgson as he was known then) first spotted a nearly four-year-old Alice Liddell in 1856, while she played in a garden. During a boat trip in 1862, he began a story about an adventure in a dizzying world full of peculiar creatures, a place called Wonderland. The star of the tale was none other than Alice Liddell, the child who had sparked his fascination to a degree that some suggest would teeter on the border of obsession.

On Christmas, 1864, Carroll presented Liddell with a completed manuscript, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Though Liddell and Carroll’s time together would come to a mysteriously abrupt end sometime during the summer she turned 12, Liddell would forever carry around the identity of the little girl who fell down the rabbit hole.

(More on Techland: A Practical Guide to Traveling Between Worlds)

Carroll’s story of  little Alice rose to a worldwide fame that has spawned an eclectic mix of adaptations, some are demure childish romps while others are soaking with psychedelia.

Since the first stage show, we’ve found Alice after Alice in film, musicals, comic books, video games and yep, even porn. We seem to be just as mesmerized with Alice as Carroll was, and Hollywood certainly seems to have a never ending supply to meet the demand (and then some).

Director Tim Burton’s version of Alice hits screens today, and for the first time, Wonderland will be in 3D. (Read Steve’s review here: Alice in Wonderland, Burton’s Having Fun Again)

We’ve taken a thorough look at the many faces of Alice throughout her history in Wonderland, from the unknown to Academy Award winning actresses, and we’re hopeful at least one can tell us exactly why a raven is like a writing desk.