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Curiouser and curiouser

Media release

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Friday 14 August 2015

State Library Victoria runs fundraising campaign to acquire a rare first edition of Lewis Carroll’s  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

State Library Victoria announced it has acquired a rare first edition copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of the beloved tale of Alice’s journey down a rabbit hole.

The 1865 copy of Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic, which features the iconic original illustrations by John Tenniel, is the only known first edition of the book in an Australian public collection.

The State Library raised over $80,000 in donations from the public, as part of an annual fundraising campaign to acquire the first edition. The donations will also be put towards acquiring 36 original hand drawn illustrations of Dorothy Wall’s Blinky Bill and the writing papers of award-winning Australian author Sonya Hartnett.

The State Library already had a copy of Carroll’s sequel to the story, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872), which was generously donated by Victorian County Court Judge Graham Anderson and his wife Anita in 2012.

Acting CEO and State Librarian Justine Hyde said: “We are thrilled that we’ve been able acquire the only first edition in public hands for the people of Victoria, thanks to the generosity of the public who donated this year.”

“Ironically, when the State Library first opened it wasn’t open to children, so the only work by Lewis Carroll we had was a mathematical treatise. We’re happy to now have a complete set.”

Both first editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass will be on display from 10 October 2015, in the Mirror of the World exhibition in the Library’s Dome Galleries.

The two original editions will be exhibited for free alongside a published facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original 1864 manuscript of the story, rare foreign language editions of Alice, a Marvel Comics edition, an Indigenous language edition, and original Australian artworks inspired by Alice.

State Library curator Anna Welch said the display would celebrate the enduring legacy of Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice, the White Rabbit, the hookah-smoking caterpillar and the Mad Hatter.

“Alice’s adventure is one of the most beloved stories ever told and has been interpreted countless times in film, theatre, ballet and visual art, as well as being translated into at least 174 languages. It is fitting that we pay tribute to its 150th anniversary by returning to the book where it all began,” she said.