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Alice Liddell (1852 - 1934), the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's fictional character Alice in 'Alice in Wonderland'. She is posing as 'The Beggar-Maid.' 1858.
Alice Liddell (1852 - 1934), the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's fictional character Alice, posing in 1858.Lewis Carroll—Getty Images
Alice Liddell (1852 - 1934), the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's fictional character Alice in 'Alice in Wonderland'. She is posing as 'The Beggar-Maid.' 1858.
alice in wonderland
Alice drawn by Lewis Carroll c.1862.
alice and wonderland
Cheshire Cat
The dodo presenting Alice with a thimble, in an illustration by Tenniel from the 1st edition of 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll, 1865.
Sidney Ord Jam Sandwich Biscuit, 1890s.
John Tenniel 's letter to Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass: Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Alice Barth as the Duchess in a production of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland at the Vaudeville Theatre, circa 1900, London, England.
circa 1910: The Mad Hatter's tea party, a scene from a London theatre production of 'Alice In Wonderland'.
Alice in Wonderland, Viola Savoy, 1915.
Twinkle, Twinkle, said the Hatter', 1930. Artist: John Tenniel
Scene from the movie, "Alice in Wonderland", written by Lewis Carroll. Alice (Charlotte Henry) is shown seated between the two chess pieces in a chair with "Queen Alice" written on it, 1933.
Sheet Music For 'Alice In Wonderland'
Bambi Linn as Alice in Alice in Wonderland
A scene from the Walt Disney film Alice in Wonderland with March Hare, Alice and the Mad Hatter, 1951.
Alice Liddell (1852 - 1934), the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's fictional character Alice, posing in 1858.
Lewis Carroll—Getty Images
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See How Lewis Carroll's Alice Evolved Through the Decades

Updated: Jul 02, 2015 3:30 PM ET | Originally published: Jun 29, 2015

It was precisely 150 years ago this week—on July 4, 1865—that the world first met a very special girl, who in the decades since has taught countless readers (and movie- and theatergoers) about the importance of believing in the impossible.

lewis carrollPhotograph of Lewis Carroll, 1863. Oscar Gustav Rejlander—The Morgan Library & Museum 

Charles Dodgson, better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll, had taken a boat trip exactly three years earlier, on July 4, 1862, with a group that included a girl named Alice Liddell. Liddell was a daughter of the Dean of Christ Church at Oxford, where Dodgson was studying mathematics. (Some people have questioned the nature of Carroll's relationship with Alice, although there appears to be little firm evidence that it was not benign.) As the Lewis Carroll Society tells it, it was on that outing that he began to tell the story of another Alice, who found her way to a magical place underground. The character's real-life inspiration loved the story and asked him to write it down for her, which he did.

That story became Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which was published in a very limited run by Macmillan on July 4, 1865, with illustrations by John Tenniel. A few weeks later, Tenniel announced that he didn't like the quality of the first printing and asked to have the edition withdrawn. The book didn't become more widely available until that holiday season, but according to the University of Florida libraries—which hold a collection of editions of the work—it was from the July 4 printing that Alice Liddell was given her very own copy of the book she helped bring into the world. July 4 is celebrated throughout Oxford as Alice's Day.

Many other museums, libraries and groups will also celebrate Alice's birthday this week; one of the Tenniel illustrations in the gallery above, for example, can be seen at the new exhibit Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland, on view now through Oct. 11 at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.

In the 150 years since John Tenniel's illustrations first helped the world imagine Alice, depictions of the character have evolved—but she has never lost her sense of wonder.

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Laura Hillenbrand,  whose latest book "Unbroken" has just come out, in her home in Washington, DC.
Laura Hillenbrand, Author of Unbroken. "Come On Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody. When I was eight years old, I bought this battered paperback for a quarter at a neighborhood fair. Enthralled, I read it over and over, until the cover fell off and the pages parted from the spine. I had to hold the book together with a rubber band. The story stayed with me, and many years later, it would inspire me to become an author myself."Bill O'Leary—The Washington Post/Getty Images
Laura Hillenbrand,  whose latest book "Unbroken" has just come out, in her home in Washington, DC.
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Laura Hillenbrand, Author of Unbroken. "Come On Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody. When I was eight years old, I bought this bat
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Bill O'Leary—The Washington Post/Getty Images
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