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About the book
  • 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.

  • Pub date: 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.

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

“Fascinating ”

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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