Open House 2020 - Alice in Wonderland display case - Full

January 9th the Library hosted their annual Open House, this year the theme was based on Lewis Carroll's  Alice in Wonderland. During the Year of Undergraduate Research it seemed only natural to pick a book that explores the themes of learning in new and unexpected ways! The Display Case featured a beautifully hand drawn background drawn by the MSU Library administration student worker Andrea Benson. Her talent brought to life the whimsy and intrigue of Carroll's book. The content of the case delved into the history of the author Lewis Carroll and the man who brought the book to life through art Sir John Tenniel. Read on to discover what history was described in the case. 

LEWIS CARROLL (1832-1898)

 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, best known by his pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, was born in the village of Daresbury, England, on January 27, 1832. The eldest boy in a family of 11 children, Carroll was rather adept at entertaining himself and his siblings. His father, a clergyman, raised them in the rectory. As a boy, Carroll excelled in mathematics and won many academic prizes. At age 20, he was awarded a studentship (called a scholarship in other colleges) to Christ College. Apart from serving as a lecturer in mathematics, he was an avid photographer and wrote essays, political pamphlets and poetry.

Carroll suffered from a bad stammer, but he found himself vocally fluent when speaking with children. Carroll loved to entertain children, and it was Alice, the daughter of Henry George Liddell (Dean of Christ College), who can be credited with his pinnacle inspiration. Alice Liddell remembers spending many hours with Carroll, sitting on his couch while he told fantastic tales of dream worlds. During an afternoon picnic with Alice and her two sisters, Carroll told the first iteration of what would later become Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. When Alice arrived home, she exclaimed that he must write the story down for her.

He fulfilled the small girl's request, and through a series of coincidences, the story fell into the hands of the novelist Henry Kingsley, who urged Carroll to publish it. The book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was released in 1865. By the time of his death, Alice had become the most popular children's book in England, and by 1932, it was one of the most popular in the world.  (

SIR JOHN TENNIEL (1820-1914)

 Lewis Carroll originally illustrated Wonderland himself, but his artistic abilities were limited. Engraver Orlando Jewitt, who had worked for Carroll in 1859 and had reviewed Carroll's drawings for Wonderland, suggested that he employ a professional illustrator. Carroll was a regular reader of Punch and was therefore familiar with Tenniel. In 1865 Tenniel, after long talks with Carroll, illustrated the first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Tenniel’s illustrations were engraved onto wood blocks which were used as masters for making the electrotype copies for printing the actual books. There were 42 wood block illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, later colored by Tenniel for the Nursery edition, published in 1889.   (


tells of a young girl falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. One of the best-known and most popular works of English-language fiction, its narrative course, structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature. The work has never been out of print, and it has been translated into at least 97 languages. Its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, art, theme parks, board games, and video games.


Full display -  - Alice in WonderlandLeft side of case - Alice in WonderlandRight side of case - Alice in WonderlandPanel 1 of 4 - Alice in WonderlandPanel 2 of 4 - Alice in WonderlandPanel 3 of 4  - Alice in WonderlandPanel 4 of 4 - Alice in WonderlandClose up of cheshire cat - Alice in Wonderlandclose up of Absolem  - Alice in WonderlandAngled from the left - Alice in Wonderlandangled from the right - Alice in Wonderlandclose up of Alice and the White Rabbit - Alice in WonderlandClose up of Absolem 2 -  - Alice in WonderlandClose up of text about Carroll - Alice in WonderlandClose up of text about Tenniel - Alice in WonderlandClose up of text about the book - Alice in Wonderland

Click on an image to view as a slideshow.