Fascinating Photos Taken by Lewis Carroll Show the Young Girl Who Inspired ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Lewis Carroll Alice Liddell Photos

While Lewis Carroll's most beloved book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is renowned for its surreal subject matter and “curiouser and curiouser” plot, its protagonist is actually based on a real-life little girl. Alice Liddell, the daughter of a family friend, inspired Carroll to write the celebrated novel in 1865. In addition to serving as his literary muse, she also often starred in Carroll's photography—another one of his artistic interests—and played a prominent part in the development of his practice.

As a photographer, Carroll used a method known as the wet collodion process. The creative, who was prone to perfectionist behaviors, was drawn to this technique due to the expert precision and ample effort it required. Poetically described by Carroll as both “mystic” and “awful,” the painstaking process involved coating a glass plate with a mixture of a soluble iodide and a collodion-based solution. Though a tricky method, Carroll embraced its difficulty and used it to produce fascinating photographs of Alice throughout the 1850s.

In the captivating collection of images, Alice is patiently positioned in a series of poses. Some photographs convey a more traditional approach to portraiture, as she is simply shown sitting on a chair or standing against a wall. Others are a bit more theatrical, depicting her in unusual costumes—namely, those intended to evoke the appearance of a “beggar child” or “the Queen of May.” No matter the context, however, the photographs have one thing in common: they each capture the childlike wonder and curious spirit of Lewis Carroll's Alice.

Though he is known primarily for his poems and prose, Lewis Carroll also enjoyed photography, with Alice Liddell—the inspiration behind Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland—serving as his main muse.

Lewis Carroll Alice Liddell Photos

Lewis Carroll Alice Liddell Photos

Lewis Carroll Alice Liddell Photos

h/t: [Open Culture]

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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