Handwritten manuscripts of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Cider With Rosie and The Wind in the Willlows are to go on display together for the first time in an exhibition exploring the links between Britain’s landscapes and literary classics. William Blake’s notebook, Lewis Carroll’s diary and William Wordsworth’s handbook on the Lake District will also be included.
The British Library’s Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands will form part of the London 2012 Festival. Over 150 works, including some never seen before in public, will go on display. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse of a diary by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, otherwise known as Lewis Carroll. In the diary, Dodgson recounts a day out on the Thames in which he entertained a young girl called Alice Liddell by inventing “the fairy-tale of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground”. It will be displayed alongside the very first written version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, featuring Dodgson’s own illustrations. A page from the last chapter of Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie will be shown to the public for the first time. The British Library acquired Lee’s archive two years ago but has never put it on display.
The influence of urban landscape is also explored in the form of a notebook belonging to William Blake, in which he recorded his thoughts while walking the streets of London. And the first appearance of Sweeney Todd, in an 1846 Penny Dreadful, is among the exhibits.
Jamie Andrews, lead curator of the exhibition, said: “These authors will chime with people immediately but many will not know how the works were influenced by landscapes, whether rural or urban. “We are very excited to share the wealth of the country’s literature in the summer of 2012. These rare and unique collections will help give a fascinating and new insight into the creative thinking behind iconic British novels, poems and illustrations.”