The famous boat ride on which Lewis Carroll is said to have first shared the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was re-created this past week. Multiple cruises took place with participants including the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Lubna Arshad; broadcaster, Gyles Brandreth; members of the official Lewis Carroll society; and two of Lewis Carroll’s great great great nieces.
The day started at 12 noon as the passengers met at Folly Bridge, followed by two hours of sight-seeing along the Thames. To finish the day of festivities the Lewis Carroll Society installed the first Lewis Carroll plaque in Oxford. The plaque reads “on the 4th July 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson [Lewis Carroll] first told the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on a boat trip that began near here [near Folly Bridge]”.
Carroll’s inspiration for the story is said to have come from his time working as a mathematics professor at Christ Church college. This is where he met the daughter of fellow professor, Alic Liddell. Liddell would go on to inspire Carroll’s own Alice. Carroll along with Reverend Robinson Duckworth and the three young Liddell sisters went out on what was described by Carol in a poem in the preface of the novel as the “golden afternoon” on which he first told Alice’s tale.
The boat ride was intended to honour this “golden afternoon”. Oxford River Cruises offer the ‘Golden Afternoon’ Tea River Cruise package upon request. The afternoon tea remains on theme with treats decorated with ‘eat me’ labels like the ones Alice encounters in Wonderland. The cruise is said to trace the very journey which Carroll, Duckworth and the Liddell girls took.
The impetus and organisation of the commemorative trip came primarily from the Lewis Carroll Society. A society of volunteers founded in 1969 which, according to their website, is committed to “encouraging research into the life and works of Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)”.
Vanessa Tait, great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, took to Twitter, writing, “amazing that Lewis Carroll has not been commemorated with a plaque before in Oxford. Here I am with [Gyles Brandreth], the Lord Mayor and relatives of LC himself”
Brandreth also expressed his excitement on Twitter: “I had lunch with the great-granddaughter of the original Alice in Wonderland and the great-great-niece of Lewis Carroll… I know how lucky I am!”