After missing out on a chance to visit the Alice in Wonderland exhibition during the lates at the British Library in November, I have been meaning to make a visit since, and made it a priority when I got back to the city after Christmas. This weekend I managed to cross it off my to-do list!
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that this was my first trip to the British Library! You’d think as a university student in London I would perhaps be a regular, but you’d be wrong! I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed when we arrived; I was expecting a beautiful building, much like the hotel next door but instead was greeted by something else entirely!
Anyway, that’s really neither here nor there, I didn’t go to appreciate the architecture (thankfully!). The exhibition was on the first floor of the library, immediately as you walked up the stairs, a lot easier to find than I originally thought when I saw the size of the building!
Before you entered the actual exhibition, which contained many different versions of the book spanning its 150 year history, including Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript and hand-drawn illustrations, there was a lovely installation which told a condensed version of the story of Alice’s adventures, so handy for anyone who may never have encountered the book or in need of a refresher (I find it hard to believe said people exist but you never know!)
As well as many of the different versions of the book and it’s adaptations, the exhibition also included many examples of Alice inspired artwork, toys, crockery and even a computer game! There are also interactive features, you can listen to Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit and watch Jan Svankmajer’s 1988 animated film, whilst putting the illustrations in the right order on a magnetic display.
I also learnt so much about the book’s conception. We all know the story but not necessarily how it came about or that It was based on a girl called Alice in Carroll’s life, who pestered him to write it and then later sold her copy of the original manuscript for £15,000
Sadly, you weren’t allowed to take photographs of the actual exhibition, and if you weren’t allowed to take photographs I’m very sure I wouldn’t be ok to share them on here either! So I guess you will just have to go and see it with your own eyes! The exhibition will be at the British Library until the 17th of April and is free to attend! There is also a rather charming pop-up shop to accompany the exhibition, which will be there until the 31st of January!
Let me know if you go and what you thought! The dark walls almost make it feel like you’re in a rabbit hole yourself! (Almost, not quite!)