Pictures of Carroll's 'real' Alice are sold for £465,000

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The Independent Online

A photgraph album containing pictures of the "real" Alice in Wonderland was sold for £465,500 at an auction in London last night.

The album, which was sold at Sotheby's to an anonymous bidder, was part of a collection amassed by Alice Pleasance Liddell and her family over several generations.

The seven-year-old Miss Liddell asked Carroll to tell her and her two sisters a story on a riverboat trip from Oxford to Godstow in 1942, and afterwards beseeched him to write it down. Carroll was inspired to devise Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for her, and later, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.

Carroll was fascinated by portrait photography, and the album contains a series of pictures he took of Alice and her sisters during the late 1850s as well as one himself and his Oxford contemporaries. The pictures are recognised as works of art, and because they are so poignant, original and sharp, have often provoked wild surmises about Carroll's psyche.

The first known manuscript of the two books is a copy of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, as it was first called, which was handed to Alice as a gift. It was inscribed "to her whose namesake one happy summer day inspired this story". It sold for £157,250.

Vanessa St Clair, Alice's great-granddaughter, said the collection, which also included Alice's wedding ring and taffeta dress, was being sold by her mother because with three children, it would have been difficult to split.

She said: "I, too, can feel rueful that the collection is passing out of family hands. I get a thrill when I hold a copy of Alice in Wonderland inscribed by Alice and dedicated to my mother. It is a little corner of history that is all my own."

Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, described Alice as his ideal "child-friend", and he told her mother that without her influence he may never have been inspired to write at all. He died at the age of 66 in Guildford, Surrey, in 1898.

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