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  • Published: 26 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473510999
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496

The Story of Alice

Lewis Carroll and The Secret History of Wonderland

The definitive biography of Lewis Carroll, his child-muse Alice Liddell, and the creation of Alice in Wonderland



This is the secret history of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Wonderland is part of our cultural heritage. But beneath the fairy tale lies the complex history of the author and his subject. Charles Dodgson was a quiet academic but his second self, Lewis Carroll, was a storyteller, innovator and avid collector of ‘child-friends’. Carroll’s imagination was to give Alice Liddell, his 'dream-child', a fictional alter ego that would never let her grow up.

This is a biography that beautifully unravels the magic of Alice. It is a history of love and loss, innocence and ambiguity. It is the story of one man’s need to make a Wonderland in a changing world.

  • Published: 26 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9781473510999
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496

About the author

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Magdalen College. His most recent book, Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist, won the Duff Cooper Prize.

Also by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

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Praise for The Story of Alice

It is the ultimate book about Alice - comprehensive and scholarly, but so delightfully and elegantly written that it's a true work of literature

Jacqueline Wilson

The Story of Alice is the best book on the myriad enigmas of Carroll’s heart-breaking wonderland I have ever read

Robert McCrum, Observer

Superb…toweringly the best of the dozens of books on Carroll which I have read

AN Wilson, Financial Times

Douglas-Fairhurst is a startling and exciting writer

A.S. Byatt, Spectator

This is biography at its best

Lyndall Gordon, New Statesman


5 Stars, Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express


Book of the Week, Philip Collins, Times

This accomplished book provides ample inspiration for readers to return to Wonderland

Francesca Wade, Prospect

Different times, and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst makes a sure-footed guide in unraveling them…intriguing

Anthony Quinn, Mail on Sunday

A fascinating telling of a great mystery story

The Times

It did for me what any good critical work should do: it sent me back to Alice for the first time in over 40 years

Vanessa Berridge, 4 stars, Daily Express

[A] scholarly, playful and richly entertaining study

Jane Shilling, Evening Standard

The Story of Alice takes us, full throttle, back to the unalloyed passion of reading. This is what it is like to open a book, and to wonder

Frances Wilson, 5 stars, Daily Telegraph

A sparkling, highly readable and erudite study

Nicola Shulman, Oldie

The Story of Alice is much more than its coy title. It is the story of several Alices… Above all it is the story of Lewis Carroll

Brian Sewell, Independent On Sunday

Douglas-Fairhurst provides the best readings of the Alice books I have come across… It returns the reader to the books, and in doing so performs an inestimable service to the author, his inspiration and legions of readers

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Superb...you feel a wise critic and a master biographer telling the story of an unfolding literary imagination

AN Wilson, Financial Times

[A] masterful biography

Anne Cunningham, Irish Independent

[Douglas-Fairhurst’s] astute and subtle commentary illumines the world of Lewis Carroll and Alice, with all its attributes and attitudes. Scholarly, engrossing and comprehensive, The Story of Alice, like Alice itself, raises the spirits while extolling ambiguity and unpredictability

Patricia Craig, Irish Times

A delicate and no doubt definitive summing up of Alice studies to date

Alexander Lucie-Smith, Tablet

A fascinating, unsettling read

Lev Grossman, Time Magazine (Europe)

Leaves you wanting more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker

Leaves you wanting more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker

The Story of Alice belongs with the best books ever written in the field of Carrollian studies

Michael Dirda, Washington Post

A richly satisfying study of a children’s classic, perceptive and enlightening in equal measure

Good Book Guide

Enormously entertaining and thoughtful

Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe Sunday

Sensitive, canny and erudite

Graham Robb, Spectator

Effortlessly elegant project

Gaby Wood, Daily Telegraph

He gets us far closer than we have ever been to the act of alchemy by which a shy and creepy Oxford don turned a pert little girl into an enduring heroine of children’s literature

Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

Brilliant and nuanced book.

Emma Hagestadt, Independent

This masterly biography peels back the often mysterious and absorbing layers of the lives of the writer and his child muse.

Julia Richardson, Daily Mail


Philip Collins, The Times

A readable and engaging insight into an iconic book and ambiguous author.

Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Express

Elegant study.

Daily Telegraph

In this pleasantly-meandering biography, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst takes us on a voyage of discovery into the lives of…Lewis Carroll, and his child-muse Alice Liddell, and argues for the return of innocence to their relationship.

Des Breen, Irish Examiner

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