#BookReview THE STORY OF ALICE by ROBERT DOUGLAS-FAIRHURST #nonfictionnovember


Wonderland is part of our cultural heritage – a shortcut for all that is beautiful and confusing; a metaphor used by artists, writers and politicians for 150 years.

But beneath the fairy tale lies the complex history of the author and his subject: of Charles Dodgson, the quiet academic, and his second self, Lewis Carroll – storyteller, innovator and avid collector of ‘child-friends’. And of his ‘dream-child’, Alice Liddell, and the fictional alter ego that would never let her grow up.

This is their secret story: a history of love and loss, of innocence and ambiguity, and of one man’s need to make Wonderland his refuge in a rapidly changing world.

Drawing on previously unpublished material, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst traces the creation and influence of the Alice books against a shifting cultural landscape – the birth of photography, changing definitions of childhood and sexuality and the tensions inherent in the transition between the Victorian and modern worlds.



This was a fascinating and thorough look at the worlds of both Lewis Carroll and the real life Alice and was just an eye opener for me!

Having loved the Alice books for so long, I was always intrigued as to who wrote them, and this looks in depth at the author in his life pre-Alice and to afterwards and how the world he lived in impacted on his writing and the people who appeared in his life who shaped the characters. None more so than Alice Liddell, worthy of a book in her own right I think, with an amazing insight into her life and how the Alice books impacted on her too over the years.

There are brilliant glimpses of the man behind the books – his love of photography is shown through the photos he took, the postcards he wrote and the letters and this really helped to give a different perspective of him .

The book covers his family life from childhood, through to his time at Oxford and I was amazed to learn so much about him and also see how the stories came to be! It gives an insight into the books he read at the time that shaped his outlook on the world and inspired him to create the Wonderland world, as well as explored the odd relationships he made over the years which would probably be frowned upon now, but were seen as innocent at the time. A fascinating read!