It was a real honor for me when Elda Rotor, an editor at Penguin Books, asked me to write the introduction to the new Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The edition is being published to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alice’s first appearance in print in 1865. With amazing cover art by Bakes, the book will hit stores in just over a month on July 7.
Elda specifically asked me if I would write an introduction that would explore not only the place of Alice in children’s literature, but the twin appeal to adults and children. In this day and age, with so much academic attention being paid to the Alice stories, it can be hard to remember that they were written for children. In fact, the first of the Alice stories were told to children before they were ever written down. It’s rather sad to me that at least one online retailer lists the Alice books as appropriate for “Age 18 and Up.”
Of course, I’d love for you to buy the book—you can preorder it through all major retailers or through you local independent bookseller—so I can’t really tell you too much about my introduction except that it was a great opportunity to think deeply about the books that surround me every day. I’ve been a collector of Alice for over thirty years. My house is filled not only with different editions of Alice, but with a plethora of material related to Lewis Carroll and his world. But sometimes, in the effort to collect material, it can be easy to forget to think about that material—to consider its impact on the world and especially on the first readers to encounter Alice 150 years ago.
So I thank Elda and the good people at Penguin (of whom there are many) for giving me the opportunity to both step back from and step into my bookshelves, to reconsider all I knew or thought I knew about the Alice books, and to say a few words (4000 to be exact) about what Alice means both to me and to the world. Lewis Carroll first told the story of Alice to the three Liddell sisters in July 1862—so July is the perfect time to sit down and experience these amazing stories anew. I hope my introduction will give you some new insights and will add to your enjoyment of a great literary treasure.