I finally made it yesterday to the British Library's Alice in Wonderland exhibit. It's been on my to-do list for months, and hurray, ticked that box!
Believe it or not, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, turned 150 last year, leading to a spate of celebrations throughout Britain. Fancy hotels threw Mad Hatter-themed tea parties. Special editions of the book were released. I myself went to a wonderful screening in December of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland at The Royal Albert Hall, which was accompanied by a live orchestra.
It's just such a lovely story, isn't it? Full of childish whimsy, and impossibility, and nonsense, and curiosity. I wish sometimes that there were more nonsense in the world--I actually feel it might make us all a little more serious, if that makes sense (or is that nonsense?).
The British Library was packed. It's the largest library in the world, the exhibit was free, and my friends and I packed in like sardines to scroll past editions and art work and memorabilia inspired from the book, some recent, and some from long, long ago.
Most exciting for me was the actual original manuscript, which has a storied history in itself. Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) hand-wrote and illustrated it, before presenting it in 1864 to Alice's namesake herself, 12-year old Alice Liddell. She kept it until 1928, when she was forced to sell it for financial reasons. It then went through auction twice, finally being purchased by a "wealthy group of benefactors who donated the volume to the British people in gratitude for their gallantry against Hitler in World War II."
And there I was, pressing my nose almost up against the glass, and thinking to myself:
"More whimsy, please."