Mark Davies is an author and he writes about the local history of Oxford. He has written a number of books about and around Oxford. Mark lives on a narrowboat near Isis Lock which is where the canal meets the Thames, so it is no surprise that, a couple of years ago, he published a book about the Thames, more specifically how the Thames and Alice Liddle are inextricably linked in the annuls of literary history.
Alice Liddle was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This book follows the Thames from Godstow on the northern reaches of the city to Nuneham down Abingdon way. This is some considerable distance to cover in a rowing skiff as Carroll did. Godstow was ‘the birthplace of all Alice’s adventures’. The book then follows the route of the river past Binsey, the site of the ‘Treacle Well’ under Folly Bridge, near by is the ‘Wool and Water’ shop which still exists today at 85 St Aldates as the Alice Shop. It drifts lazily along the Christ Meadow stretch. On the flow to Iffley where a prince was unceremoniously blacked in the eye by Alice, and then onward to Sanford the ‘Pool of Tears finishing up at Nuneham ‘a material Fairy land’.
The book, which is written as a diary, is full of historical reference, maps, copies of the original illustrations, photographs of people who became characters and talks about all the places as they appear in the original book.
This is a lovely insight into the history behind one of the most famous childrens books ever written. Well worth reading even if you are not an Alice fan.
In Oxford you can buy it at many of the local bookshops. It can be purchased directly from Mark by Isis Lock (if he is home there is a poster of the book on a board by his post box) or you can get it online ISBN 078-1-904955-72-6.