If you are reading this post, you are likely a Carrollian, and as such, if you know the name Mavis Batey, it is probably because of her books Alice’s Adventures in Oxford (1980), and The World of Alice, published in 1998, the year of the Carroll Centenary at Christ Church College, Oxford.
We regret to report that Mrs. Batey passed away on November 12th at the age of 92. She was a brilliant and gracious person, and will be missed by many. But her publications about Alice, and English gardens, are not her only legacy. In her youth, she was a key part of the British government’s secret Bletchley Park code breaking team during World War II, and made a number of significant contributions to crucial code breaking efforts (including deciphering the first message from one of the infamous German “Enigma” machines) that helped turn the tide in the war.
To read more about Mrs. Batey’s contributions while at Bletchley Park in the Washington Post, click me.
To read an obituary in The Telegraph with more details about her work at Bletchley, click me.
Curiouser and curiouser. Even if you don’t follow the gossip columns, or go to the movies, chances are you’ve heard of talented actress Kristen Stewart, star of the megahit Twilight film franchise, as well as Snow White and the Huntsman, among others. Perhaps that second title should have given us all a hint; it turns out that Ms. Stewart grew up in a fairytale, Wonderland-themed home, complete with a giant chess board by the pool, and several Alice-themed murals. The home is now on the market due to her parents’ pending divorce; if you have $1.75 Million, you can snap it up for yourself!
To view pictures of the property, click me.
One of our mimsy minions reports the release of a new (and free) 60-minute audio adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by a Canadian collective known as Voices in the Wind. After a quick listen to parts, I can tell you that the adaptation is quite loose (and Alice does not have a British accent). There is also at least one Disney-esque musical number.
Click me to read an article about the recording.
Click me to go directly to Voices in the Wind’s web site.
Singer Una Healy of the band “The Saturdays” has partnered with the Disney Channel’s Club Penguin for a new anti-bullying ad campaign “It Starts With You,” promoting safer surfing and constructive communal behavior online.
In the ad, Ms. Healy poses as Alice, falling into an unknown digital Wonderland. Kudos to Disney and to Ms. Healy for doing their part for a very worthy cause.
To read more about the campaign and to see interviews, click me.
What’s the next best thing to unexpectedly inheriting first editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass? A public institution near you receiving them in an anonymous donation, that’s what. Which is good news for Carrollians in Utah as last week just such a bequest was made to the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. The value of the two books is estimated at $30,000. Read more here, or visit the books in person in the George S. Eccles Special Collections Reading Room on level 4 of the J. Willard Marriott Library, 295 S 1500 E, Salt Lake City. Visitors are welcome.
A lost mural of Alice in Wonderland and the archaeologist determined to bring it to light were the subjects of an interesting tale told by San Diego public radio station, KPBS, yesterday.
Seth Mallios, head of the anthropology department at SDSU, had been hunting down murals, once common all over campus, when he heard about the Alice mural from Evelyn Kooperman, a retired librarian.
When she was a little girl in the 1950s, her mother used to take her to see two murals tucked away in Hardy Tower. One featured the character of Odysseus. The other, was the “Alice in Wonderland” mural. “I just thought they were wonderful,” says Kooperman. “They were big and bright and colorful. And I just loved them and every year I would say to my mother, ‘I want to go see Alice! I want to go see Alice!’”
Read about Mallios’s discovery of the mural, and of the artist who painted it, on the KPBS website. You can also see an old photograph of the mural and listen to the original radio broadcast.
The expedition ship Discovery in the Antarctic bearing the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901–04, and two book by Lewis Carroll
We like to celebrate the fact that the Alice books have been enjoyed all over the world, but did you know that includes Antarctica? Last week, in a story reported by the UK national paper the Telegraph, we learned the interesting and quite touching fact that “Britain’s toughest explorers, who took part in Scott’s gruelling three-year journey to discover the Antarctic, whiled away the freezing dark nights by reading children’s story Alice in Wonderland…” (Read the story in full here.)
Well-travelled Alice books, Bonham’s Auction 19952, Lot 63
The books formed part of the library on board the Discovery, the ship that carried Captain Scott’s successful expedition to the Antarctic regions between 1901 and 1904. These travel-stained copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which once sat among more likely-sounding titles such as Sir Walter Raleigh’s Discovery of Guiana and Marco Polo’s Voyages and Travels, are to be auctioned by Bonham’s in their Polar II Sale, December 4, with an estimated price of $3,200 – $6,400.
Last week, the Câmara Brasileira do Livro (Brazilian Book Guild) announced the winners of the 54th annual Jabuti Awards and we are pleased to relate that Alice found herself in the list of winning titles. Adriano Peliano of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil took third prize in the graphic design category for her book Aventuras de Alice no Subterrâneo (Alice’s Adventures under Ground) by Editora Scipione.
As the images below show, Peliano’s book is a triumph of translation and calligraphic skill. Each page of the Portuguese translation mirrors Carroll’s handwritten original; the transformation of the language is subtle and quite magical.
Alice’s Adventures under Ground; Carroll on the left, Peliano on the right
In a recent post on Alice Nations, the blog of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil, Peliano described the book’s creation:
When I decided to recreate the manuscript in Portuguese, I intended to have it be as close as possible to the original object. In doing that I looked for a design that would seem almost imperceptibly different. The pictures, conversations, discoveries, doubts, surprises, obstacles, the strangeness and the delicacy, all came from Lewis Carroll’s original. His handwriting was recreated as if he had written the book in Portuguese for each one of us. In the translation I intended to imbue the words with happiness and invoke curiosity, to read the book as if for the first time.
I can even say that I share this prize with Lewis Carroll. This graceful book is a gift dedicated to him, to Alice Liddell, to a boat trip, to all Alices and rabbits in the world, but mainly, to the strength and magic from an encounter.
The Jabuti Awards honor excellence in Brazilian literature and publishing. “Jabuti” means “tortoise”—can anyone tell us the significance of the name? As the Mock Turtle said of his schoolmaster, so he might school us here: “We called him Tortoise because he taught us”, but what did the Mock Turtle know of Portuguese?
Alice Liddell as a Beggar Maid, now at the Carnegie Museum of Art
Two of the most famous photographs Dodgson made of Alice Liddell have been promised to the Carnegie Museum of Art: “Alice Liddell as a Beggar Maid” (1858, albumen print) and “Alice with Garland” (1860, glass negative).
The gift, from the collection of William Talbott Hillman, also includes key works by Roger Fenton, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Alfred Stieglitz and represents “an exceptionally important addition” to the museum, in the words of Linda Benedict-Jones, curator of photographs. “Indeed” she continued “they may pave the way for further collecting of iconic works by such recognized masters of the medium.”
I haven’t been able to find an image of “Alice with Garland” online. If anyone reading this knows where to find one, could you link to it in the comments below?
Perhaps unique in the annals of Alice publishing, syndicated columnist Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle is publishing the text of Wonderland one sentence at a time at the end of his column, beginning on July 25 in one titled “Turning on to rainbows, and tuning out.” He had just finished publishing King Lear this same way. Inspiration perhaps came from a similar stunt in the New Yorker, whose editor, Gardner Botsford, got bored with seeing the same capsule review for The Fantastics, which ran for 42 years. In its place, beginning on November 23, 1968, with the copyright—or, one could argue, December 21 with the opening line—it began serializing the first chapter of Ulysses, ending in November of 1971.