Illustrated by John Tenniel


  • It’s the birth date of Doris Gates (1901–1987), Blue Willow; and Charles Schulz (1922–2000), Peanuts.
  • In 1716, the first lion is exhibited in Boston, Massachusetts. Read The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, and The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio and illustrated by Roger Duvoisin.
  • First step, discovery; second step, entry. In 1922, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen in more than three thousand years.
  • Buck the “Black Friday” trend. It’s Buy Nothing Day. Read Nothing by Jon Agee.

On November 26, 1865, a children’s book was published by Macmillan in England that has remained in print ever since: the longest standing and best-known of our classics, Lewis Carroll’s quirky and unforgettable Alice in Wonderland. Although it was clearly written and intended for children, its richness and complexity also make it appealing to adults. It has been embraced by rock groups like Jefferson Airplane, movie moguls likeTim Burton, royalty like Queen Victoria of England, and millions of college students and writers.

The book began while Oxford don and mathematician Charles Dodgson took the three Liddell daughters out on a boat trip down the River Thames and entertained them with a story. After Alice begged to have it written down, Dodson embellished his tale, publishing it under his nom de plume Lewis Carroll. Even with its modest first printing of two thousand copies, the book quickly took hold of readers and became the darling of parents and children alike.

In Alice in Wonderland Alice falls down a rabbit hole into a bizarre world where all logic seems reversed. In 1871 Carroll continued Alice’s story in Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. In this sequel, Alice discovers she is a pawn in a chess game dominated by the Red Queen. Today it is impossible to imagine either story without the artwork of Sir John Tenniel. But author and illustrator squabbled incessantly while the books were created, and Carroll considered Tenniel less than ideal for the project.

Translated into more than 125 languages, the two books brought to life an incredible cast of characters who have become part of popular culture—the March Hare, Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and the Jaberwock—to name only a few. And, of course, Alice herself has inspired legions. As Professor Alice Gopnik, of the University of California at Berkeley, wrote in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book: “I think every scientist and every child is the grave, wide-eyed little girl who fearlessly follows evidence and logic wherever it leads—even through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole.”

Happy birthday, Alice in Wonderland. Thank you for showing us that the very best books for children just get better over time and that they can entertain and sustain us throughout all the stages of our life.

Here’s a page from Alice in Wonderland:

Alice had been looking over his shoulder with some curiosity. “What a funny watch!” she remarked. “It tells the day of the month, and doesn’t tell what o’clock it is!”

“Why should it?” muttered the Hatter. “Does your watch tell you what year it is?”

“Of course not,” Alice replied very readily: “but that’s because it stays the same year for such a long time together.”

“Which is just the case with mine,” said the Hatter.

Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s remark seemed to her to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.


Originally posted November 26, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Adventure, Other Worlds
Instructional materials from for Alice in Wonderland


  1. Happy birthday to one of my favorite novels of all time.

    Thanks to Jules for sending me this link.

  2. Ancient Editor says:

    Think this was one of the most influential books I ever
    Read and even today, I’m unsure why. Went
    to Oxford, walked along the river and was
    startled to see rabbits everywhere. Also a
    man running in the woods in a white rabbit costume. I reread
    the book every so often and this almanac reminder makes me want
    to plunge in now. Thanks!

  3. Tayyab Saeed says:

    I must say, this is probably one of my favorite books of all time…….
    Aside from that, I really love the Czech film based on this: “Neco z Alenky”. It is one of my favorite movies, and in my opinion, the greatest adaptation of this novel, though it has a somewhat more surreal feel.

  4. Chelsea DeTorres says:

    This was one of the books my grandmother gave me when I was little. I loved this book even when I didn’t understand everything that happened and I love it more now that I do. At either point, this was and is a fantastic book.

  5. Congratulations to Alice and Lewis Carroll!!
    And to the wonderful illustrations of the original edition by Sir John Tenniel!

  6. One of my all time favorites. Found a copy of the original with illustrations at a book fair for fifty cents!

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