celebrate the 150th anniversary





To mark the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Stephen McClarence takes a pilgrimage to two towns with curious connections to the children’s classic


The woman across the aisle on the train from Llandudno turns to her friend. “The tide came in three times yesterday,” she whispers. “But it hasn’t come in once today.” Her friend shrugs. Curious things happen in Wonderland.
I’m on the way home after a short Lewis Carroll pilgrimage to mark this year’s 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The obvious focus would have been Oxford, where Alice Liddell, the book’s inspiration, grew up and Carroll – aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – studied and taught at Christ Church college for half a century. Or London, where The Alice Look, an exhibition considering Alice’s influence on fashion, opens at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green on May 2.
But, to be a bit down-the-rabbit-hole, a bit through-the-looking-glass, I’m visiting Whitby and Llandudno, two seaside towns that have made the most, and a bit more, of their Alice associations.
In Llandudno, I discover a virtual Mad Hatter and a real Alice. But first, after a glorious top-deck bus ride across the North York Moors – the landscape as inspiringly desolate as any in England – I check in to Whitby’s La Rosa hotel.





No one is sure exactly which room Carroll occupied, but, like mine, it was at the front, with a grand view of the North Sea and the town’s gaunt abbey ruins beyond its wind-blasted clifftop churchyard.
The author first came to Whitby to be tutored in maths. His earliest published works appeared in the Whitby Gazette – a poem called The Lady of the Ladle (no masterpiece) and a short story, describing the approach to the town along “headlong paths, dignified by the name of road”.






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