Article by member Sandy Pelphrey
as printed in the Weekly Villager 11/9/12 edition available online at www.weeklyvillager.com
Doll collectors in generally have a favorite doll, style, doll artist, era, or some such thing to identify why they collect what they collect.
I started many years ago as a collector as my daughters grew up and I was drawn to certain dolls that reminded me of my girls when they were small. This led to a great awareness of dolls in general and after a few years of mixed emotions. I finally narrowed my collecting down to at least a few categories. One of these is Alice in Wonderland.
Not even reading the story when I was young makes it a little hard to explain how I was drawn to this particular little beauty. I think for the most part most Alice doll artists past and present interpret Alice as a sweet innocent blonde-haired child with a baby blue dress and black patent mary jane shoes. So I ask you what is there not to love? Whatever the reason, she grew on me very quickly and has been my overall favorite for several years.
I write about her at this time as the weather in northeastern Ohio becomes rainy and our winter will shortly be upon us. I start looking for indoor treats in life. For me, of course, one of these treats is doll collecting and decorating takes on a little different twist.
I do the fall thing, the Halloween thing, and of course the Christmas thing but my dolls play a big role in this activity, especially Alice. I never tire of her being all over my house, sometimes much to my husband’s dismay.
As I have considered my 2012 decorating I give Alice a special salute, as of July of this year she celebrated 150 years. I should explain the first story of Alice in Wonderland may have come to mind in the author Charles Dodgson, better-known as Lewis Carroll, 150 years ago. He boarded a boat with a small group on July 4, 1862 setting out from Oxford to Godstow, where the group was to have tea on the river bank. The small group consisted of Carroll, his friend Reverend Robinson Duckworth, and the three little sisters of Carroll’s good friend Harry Liddell. Entrusted with entertaining the young ladies, Carroll fancied a story about a whimsical world full of fantastical characters, and named his protagonist Alice. So taken was one of the three little girls, Alice Liddell, with the story that she asked Carroll to write it. He soon sent her a manuscript under the title of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. After sending the manuscript to a friend who read it to his children the decision was made to revise the story for publication, retitling it Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In this revision the famous scene of the Mad Hatter’s tea party and the character of the Cheshire Cat, were added for a grand total nearly twice as long as the manuscript he’d originally written for Alice Liddell. In 1865, John Tenniel illustrated the story and it was published in its earliest version.
Since that publication in 1865, there have been many versions and publications of the book and illustrations. Alice has appeared in books, art work, toys, clothing, furniture, dolls, and movies.
I treasure her in my doll collection and many accessories as well. I have done presentations with my dolls, written articles, decorated with her in my home, have a Christmas tree with Alice only, and handed down this passion to my granddaughter by sharing it with her. I now share her in my article so she may bring interest and joy to others as we look for the simpler things in life. Our imaginations are expanded by a doll, first a story written 150 years ago.