With us today we have Alice Pleasance Liddel from The Jabberwocky Book. How old are you, Alice?
45…well, 60. Actually, I only look 30. Or 7. It’s complicated.
Do you have any family? If so, what’s your family like?
I have an older sister, Lorina Charlotte Liddell. My younger sister, Edith Mary, died many years ago. Lorina is a bit bossy, but kind-hearted. She knows of my adventures in Wonderland and Looking-Glass Land when I was a girl, but she’s sort of blocked her mind from them, since she certainly doesn’t approve. My parents are both dead, and I am divorced from my husband, Reginald Hargreaves. He never understood me much, either. I guess my only real family now is Dorothy Gale, but she spends much of her time in Oz, and is very hard to contact.
How’s your relationship with your parents? Do you love them? Hate them? How have they influenced you?
My parents were both wonderful people, if a little set in their ways. My sisters and I never lacked for anything. I don’t know if Mother and Father taught me anything exactly, unless it was rebellion. I was a difficult child, not into reading or anything much except daydreaming. There was this Oxford mathematics professor who used to tell some interesting tales, and he was instrumental in sending me off to Wonderland in the first place. He influenced me in many ways, a lot more than my parents it turns out. Especially when it came to dealing with the Red King and the Raven, both of whom wanted their revenge on me.
What about your siblings? Do you get along?
I’ve explained about Lorina above. Edith was another person altogether–the prettiest of the three of us, always happy (except when she tried to bury me alive when I wouldn’t share a barley sugar with her). Unfortunately, she died at the age of 22, which turned out to be most inconvenient years later when we were engaged in dealing with the Red King. It turns out we had to rather questionably handle Edith’s corpse in order to channel her power. I’m not proud of that moment. I think she would forgive me. I hope so, at least. Poor darling, I miss her dreadfully.
How would you describe your childhood?
Ha ha ha. My childhood. Indeed. Well, that’s something I usually try to forget. My childhood led me to becoming an alcoholic. My childhood was perhaps the weirdest thing that could ever befall someone, and all of it engineered, if I may use that word, by forces beyond my control. My childhood was…I’m sorry, can we move onto the next question?
Of course, we can. What’s your greatest fear?
Myself. And my sisters. And the Oxford don. And not seeing Dorothy again. And the Red King, and the Raven. I’m sorry, I’m still upset over that reference to my childhood. My greatest fear? Probably facing the truth about myself. I like to put self-awareness away in a drawer somewhere and pretend it doesn’t exist. But how would you like it if you were the sole reason that four interlocked universes were dying? Learning the truth about myself, that my entire existence was guided by my enemies–that’s enough to scare anyone.
What do you hate most about yourself?
That I somehow disappointed my husband. He left me for another woman. We’d not had the most loving marriage, and no children came from our union. But I think I could have done more to bind Reginald and I together. He was always busy with his financial career, of course. A woman’s duty is to help her husband.
What is your greatest strength?
Probably bringing out the best in others. I treated Dorothy most dreadfully when we first met. The age difference was part of that, I suppose, and not wanting to see innocent people hurt when the Red King turned up. But she emerged like a butterfly to save the day time and again. And Inspector Lestrade of the London Constabulary certainly excelled on a number of occasions. Even Lorina proved good in the end, I think because of my allowing her to. Not really a strength, I suppose.
Do you have a weakness?
Dorothy would say my drinking. But that is none of her business. My curiosity has landed me in trouble a number of times. And I am a dreadful bore when it comes to words and language. I was never interested in them until I went to Wonderland, but after I came back they consumed all my interest. I assembled quite a library of books, until the Raven destroyed it. I am a terrible bore to talk to, really.
Have you traveled? If so, what’s your favorite place? Can you describe it for us?
I have travelled a fair bit on the Continent, but in this world at least I have kept mostly to Oxford and London. As for my journeys to Wonderland and Looking-Glass Land, they are quite impossible to describe. I’d refer you to the Jabberwocky Book for descriptions of them, for what they are worth. My favourite place would be Oxford. I spent my childhood there and moved to London after my marriage. I returned after the divorce to Oxford to live with Lorina in our parents’ house. It was so peaceful, and I could keep an eye on the Rabbit Hole and the Looking-Glass there. You know, just in case.
Is there something from the past that haunts you, keeps you awake at night?
Dreams of ravens frequently cause me to lose sleep. Even now. But I think probably the most haunting incident from the past was the night we three sisters looked in a mirror in our parents’ house. It frightened Lorina and Edith terribly. It should have done the same to me. But I stayed and continued to look and that’s when the whole ghastly business began, I suppose.
What is your biggest secret?
Promise you won’t tell? Oh, how ridiculous, this in an interview, of course you’ll tell. But at least circumstances mean that it doesn’t matter now anyway. I do have rather a soft spot for Inspector John Lestrade. If I hadn’t married Reginald, perhaps…? But of course, John was married to Aoife–still is, I presume. And that sort of thing is exactly what ruined my marriage with Reginald. Still, you did ask.
What’s your favorite animal and why?
That would have to be my cat Dinah. We can talk to each other after a fashion. In fact anyone who comes to our Oxford house can speak to cats while there. It’s a little gift my sister and I share with visitors. It unnerves some of them, but we at least can see the humorous side. Another animal I interact with is the Snark (if “animal” is the right word–I’m not really sure what the thing is). It came to my house years ago and I kept it locked up in a bathing-machine in my cellar until I freed it. Then it kept me prisoner for a while as a punishment. We now have a sort of working relationship, not always good. But I admire it’s courage and tenacity.
During your time in Wonderland and Oz, who was your favorite person?
They were all quite mad. Myself included. But so many to choose from. We can eliminate any of the royal families for a start. The Hatter? No, I can’t say I enjoyed his company too much, even though he did become quite brave in dealing with the Raven. Perhaps the Cheshire Cat, although my time with him was so brief. Thinking about it, it probably wasn’t someone from those lands at all, but one from Oz. I never went there, but Princess Langwidere did come through during the Raven problem. She was quite a deal of fun–all of her. I especially liked Number Three. Number Twelve proved quite resourceful, but Langwidere Three was certainly a most congenial person.
Well, it was most delightful to have you here and thank you very much for your time, but it would seem that’s all we have time for. Learn more about Alice’s author at www.russellproctor.com