2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a landmark in the history of children’s literature and one of the strangest and most enduring stories ever written.
To celebrate the anniversary, Royal Mail commissioned award-winning illustrator Grahame Baker-Smith, to illustrate ten key scenes from the story.
The stamps provide a fresh, lively interpretation of unforgettable characters such as the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and Alice herself, making the story come to life with new vivacity.
To coincide with the launch of the stamps, Walker Books will be publishing a three-dimensional gift edition book with pages that fold out and use the artwork of the stamps to bring the story to life with excerpts from the original book.
The story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, originally entitled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, came about as a result of a friendship between Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a young Mathematics don at Christ Church in Oxford, and of the children of the Dean of the college, one of whom was Alice Liddell.
Originally a story made up to entertain the children on a boat trip, Alice requested it be written down, which Dodgson did as a Christmas gift in 1864 with his own illustrations. Dodgson decided to publish his story under the pen name Lewis Carroll.
He more than doubled the length of the original tale, dividing it into 12 chapters instead of four, adding poems such as ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!’ and introducing memorable new characters, including the Hatter, the March Hare, the Duchess and the Cheshire Cat. He also expanded key episodes, such as the pun-laden conversation of the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon about their schooldays, and developed the culminating trial scene, where the evidence is a nonsense poem.
On publication in 1865 the book was an immediate success. Six years after Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll published a sequel, Through the Looking-Glass. Since publication, Alice’s adventures have continued through innumerable stage adaptations, cartoons, films and in various other incarnations – including on postage stamps.
Andrew Hammond, Royal Mail Director of Stamps and Collectibles, said: “The story of Alice in Wonderland remains a perennial favourite of children, and indeed adults, around the world. It is fitting that in its 150th anniversary year it is celebrated with a wonderful set of stamps featuring striking images that do justice to such an iconic tale.”