Review: Alice in Wonderland at the British Library

31 January 2016

London has lots to offer if you're short on money but still looking for something entertaining to fill your time. A few Saturdays ago, my friend S came to visit and we decided to go to the Alice in Wonderland exhibition at the British Library.

Arthur Rackham's Alice (1907)
image found here
The British Library has put on a fascinating free exhibition to celebrate the fact that it has been 150 years since the publication of Alice in Wonderland. You enter through various illuminated panels, reminding you of key elements and quotes from the story, drawing you down the rabbit hole as you follow signs telling you "don't go this way, go that way".

The highlight, for us, was seeing Lewis Carroll's original handwritten 'Alice' with his own pen and ink illustrations, which seemed to have a very Pre-Raphaelite quality. We saw the original woodblocks and a wealth of gorgeous vintage copies of the story, before continuing on to see all the ways that the story has been re-imagined over the course of its 150 year history - games, prints, tea caddies and sculptures, as well as numerous illustrated versions of the text itself, from the Disney variety to the darkly sinister. I'm sure there'll be a heap of new styles over the next 150 years. Out of the 'newer' images, my favourites were Arthur Rackham's - stunning!

As a free exhibition on such a popular book, it was massively busy when we went (Saturday mid-afternoon) so I'd recommend getting there earlier or during the week to avoid the crowds and enable you to pore over the treasures on display without being jostled from behind. Well worth a visit and it's on until 17 April 2016 so no excuses!

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