Dear Alice in Wonderland,
Today is my actual 30th birthday. Yes, the single, insignificant (on a global scale anyway) event that I’ve been banging on about for months now has finally arrived. As this is the whole reason that I started this project I felt that I should pick an important and meaningful book for today. That book is you. Thinking about that, it’s a weird choice. Not because you aren’t an important book to me but because I can’t actually remember the first time I read you. I always remember you being in my life though. You’ve always been on the sidelines, watching me. You’re the book from my childhood I remember most fondly but not because I remember reading during my childhood.
It all comes from my middle name. I am Laura Alice Murdoch. I’ve always been drawn to you because we share a name… kind of. Not that I use my middle name ever or talk about it a lot. I just remember thinking it was really cool that I shared the same name as your main character. And I loved you. I loved the idea of you. A girl who grows incredibly large and incredibly small. A talking rabbit and a stoned caterpillar. What kid wouldn’t love that? Growing up I had framed pictures of your illustrations on my walls. Now I don’t know whether my love for you prompted the pictures to be out on my wall or vice versa but it’s doesn’t really matter. Even if I wasn’t fully aware of your story, I adored you. After all, I was Alice.
I’ve been familiar with your film adaptation too, of course, but the first time I remember you as a book was when I was already an adult. I studied you during my final year as an undergraduate on a bullshit children’s literature course. That’s to say the course and its tutor were bullshit; not the literature. I must have read you before or, at the very least, had you read to me. I just never remembered. I’m sure my parent’s talked about you in my youth in a way that suggests I had a familiarity with the text. However, the memories aren’t there.
You are the book that I’ve been most familiar with in my 30 years but, from the looks of it, I took ownership of you without having any rights to do so. Having definitely read you now, I still love you and I still, secretly, think I am Alice. I forced my flatmates to see the Tim Burton adaptation for my birthday in 2010. It was the first night it was available and I loved it. Not as much but enough. You are one of my all-time favourite books and I feel an incredible connection with you. It’s just mad to think that the book I always thought of as being my childhood favourite is also the book I remember the least.
But, we’re all mad here,