“I have always wanted to go and see the sights in Oxford that inspired Lewis Carroll when he wrote Alice in Wonderland. So when my expert friend Catherine said she would take me on a tour, of course I cried Calloo, Callay, as it was clearly a frabjous day.
We began by going in to Worcester College, one of the colleges that Carroll would have visited while he was living and working in Oxford.
It has beautiful gardens and some people think that one of the passageways may have inspired him to write about Alice longing to be able to squeeze down the corridor to see the ‘loveliest garden you ever saw’. Do you think this could be the right one?
Catherine also showed me the lake in Worcester’s gardens, which is surrounded by birds and seems just like the pool of tears that Alice cries when she is nine feet tall – and which she swims in when she is small.
In the picture you can see me reading from the book while a swan listens, and hopefully enjoys itself. There were also ducks and a moorhen – although no dodo, eaglet or lory as in the story. We did see a dodo carving in the chapel.
In mythology, a gryphon is a creature with the head, talons, and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Our Annotated Alice book is sure that both Lewis Carroll and Alice, along with her sisters, would have seen it on the Trinity College gates.
Our next stop was Christ Church itself where Lewis Carroll was an academic, and Alice Liddell was the daughter of the Dean. You can go inside, and see further clues such as decorations around the fireplace that resemble Alice’s stretched-out neck illustration when she is first growing bigger.
However, for today, we ventured around to the other side, where you can peep into a garden and see the house where Alice would have lived, next to the Cathedral.
The white window in the middle of the picture, between the foliage, shows the house where the Liddells lived. One of the trees here is credited with giving Carroll the idea to have a Cheshire Cat on a branch.
There are other sights to see, but they will have to wait for another trip to Oxford – and closer study of the book The Annotated Alice.
It was especially lovely, however, to see members of Book for Breakfast involved in the end of year play in their costumes.”
- Rebecca Mileham