Pitching Alice in Wonderland

“The time has come,” the walrus said,
“To talk of publishing:
“Of synopses that sell your books,
Of queries that take wing.”

Okay, it’s not easy to imagine Lewis Carroll pitching the Alice books to literary agents, but let’s not let that stop us!

Query: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Bobbie Bee-Goode
42 Upper Pinafore Lane
London, W1

Dear Mr. Bee-Goode,

A rabbit with a pocket watch! A very dry lecture on William the Conqueror! A grin without a cat! Bill the Lizard! A Mock Turtle, a Gryphon, and a homicidal Queen!

No one else would have dared create them, let alone set them dancing (in some cases literally) through the pages of a children’s book. But this book, my dear sir, has them all!

My eponymous heroine is a girl who falls through a rabbit hole – careless of her, but necessary for the adventures – and finds herself growing larger and then smaller, until a hookah-smoking caterpillar gives her the call.

(This incident would make a splendid song, by the way, for which I could easily supply the lyrics. Perhaps Arthur Sullivan could be engaged to write the melody? If he can be prised away from that prattling dramatist, W. S. Gilbert, and start setting my words to music, I believe he may achieve great things.)

Children will be enchanted by Alice and their parents will surely approve her behaviour. She eats things labelled EAT ME, drinks things labelled DRINK ME, nibbles a mushroom (on the advice of the Caterpillar), shouts, and talks back to her elders. Who could fail to love such a child?

I have included a great deal of verse in the text, believing as I do that children should be inculcated early with a love of great poetry. Words such as these will most assuredly serve the purpose, especially as spoken by a Mad Hatter:

Alice - Mad Hatter“Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.”

Finally, I have conjured up an ingenious trick for the ending. Alice’s adventures turn out to be a dream! I fancy I am the first writer ever to have thought of this, and decidedly, once the world sees how brilliantly I have devised this somnium ex machina, no one else will ever attempt it.

Alice - Looking-Glass“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is complete at about 27,500 words. I should like to write a sequel, and am at present passing long hours gazing into the looking-glass and asking myself, “What might Alice do next?” Doubtless inspiration will follow.

I have selected you as my agent because your advertisement in The Times included the words “frisky,” “frolicsome,” “playful,” and “bouncy.” Although you omitted to specify that you are a Literary Agent, or even to make clear that you are a gentleman, I cannot conceive of another profession in which such words might be employed.

I look forward to your reply with the keenest interest.

Yours faithfully,

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
Lecturer in Mathematics
Christ Church College
Oxford University

[All images by John Tenniel (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons]

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