Well 27 February is indeed a very important date. It is the birthday of mathematician turned author Lewis Carroll, born on this day in 1832. This means I get to wrap with the fabulous Alice in Wonderland gift tag that my sister bought me in the UK. I have been saving it and saving it and today’s the day.
There aren’t many of us who don’t know the classic story of Alice in Wonderland which contains some of the best and most timeless of quotes.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
What we might not be as familiar with is the fascinating life and times of its author Lewis Carroll.
Publisher’s Weekly has come to my rescue with its top 10 random facts about Lewis Carroll. A fun summary of fun facts. The site leads off with the fact that Carroll suffered from chronic migraines, and epilepsy, stammering, partial deafness, and ADHD. Not quite sure why it started with this information – but clearly Lewis found a way to work around his health as he produced 11 books on mathematics, and 12 works of literary fiction. It is said that Carroll could write 20 words a minute, a page of 150 words in seven and a half minutes, and 12 pages in two and a half hours.
Carroll might have been good with numbers but not the practical sort. Apparently he wasn’t much bothered with money and would often over draw his account though, to be fair he would always pay it back promptly on payday.
Carroll was a prolific letter writer, (reportedly corresponding upwards of 2,000 times in one year). If only he was around now – he could really help Australia Post in its hour of need. Carroll would sometimes choose to write backwards. That writing would look a bit weird – like my husband’s regular writing. The reader of his letters would have to do some heavy lifting by holding it to a mirror in order to decipher it.
History has it that Carroll first told the story of Alice to the Liddell children – including Alice Liddell – on July 4, 1862 (that’s incredibly precise isn’t it??). It is said that the characters in his spoken tale were based on people in the Liddell’s social circle and that the tale was full of gentle jibes about them. Well, that’s all getting curiouser and curiouser.
Regardless of who the characters are based on or reference, the story went on to become a hit. To date, it has been translated into more than 70 languages.
I’ve been to Oxford (as a tourist because I’m not smart enough to study there) and when I go back I will certainly be on the lookout for a white rabbit and Alice holding a flamingo immortalised in stained glass in the Christ Church College at Oxford, where Carroll spent most of his life.
I am not sure my Alice in Wonderland gift wrap will be immortalised anywhere, but I do think it looks rather lovely. I do like the tiny pattern on the paper full of Alice characters. I do like the bow – very Alice I think. But most of all I like the Alice Gift Tag which features a key, (a symbol so important in the tale) and the white rabbit with whom, it appears, I have a definite affinity …I’m late, I’m late for ….A very important date. No time to say hello, good-bye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late…