Spotlight on Wonderland: The Hatter


Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Mad Hatter may not know, but asking nonsense questions is all part of the appeal of this quirky character. 150 years after he appeared in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, he is still loved for his maddening garden parties where it is always Tea Time.

How did Lewis Carroll come up with his Hatter? One inspiration could be that hat makers in the 19th century were known for going ‘mad’ from mercury poisoning, as mercury was commonly used in felt hat manufacturing.

Mad Hatter Running

Sir John Tenniel (the original illustrator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) may have based his drawing of the Hatter after Theopilus Carter, an eccentric Oxford furniture dealer who always wore a top hat. Since Tenniel, countless illustrators and artists have created their own versions of the Hatter. Do you have a favorite?

Did you know?

  • The Mad Tea Party did not appear in the original Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. The never-ending tea party would not make its debut until a later edition of the tale.
  • Carroll never uses the name ‘Mad Hatter’. Instead, it is the Cheshire Cat who tells Alice that the Hatter and March Hare are “both mad.”
  • The Hatter reappears in Through the Looking Glass as ‘Hatta’.

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library from October 2105-July 2016 to explore the Hatter and the rest of the Wonderland cast of characters in the exhibit Alice 150 Years and County…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: elections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

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Alice 150 Years and Counting Opening Reception

On Friday, October 16, 2015, the University of Maryland Libraries hosted the opening reception for the exhibition Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

Alice Postcard

Students, staff, Alice fans, bibliophiles, librarians, collectors, and the curious alike gathered in Hornbake Library to view the new exhibit and enjoy a night of frabjous festivities. A Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter were even spotted among the crowd. Testudo got into the Wonderland spirit, donning the Mad Hatter’s hat!

Tasty treats included The King of Hearts’ Mushroom Tarts, The Duchess’ Royal Tea Sandwiches, “Don’t Be Late!” Carrot Cake, and “Off with Her Head!” Red Velvet Ice Cream. Collectors August and Clare Imholtz and members of the Alice 150 exhibit team were on hand to delight guests with details of the exhibit.

Speakers included Interim Dean of the Libraries’ Dr. Babak Hamidzadeh, Associate Dean for Collection Strategies & Services, Dr. Daniel Mack, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Doug McElrath, and private collector August Imholtz.

Visitors were encouraged to go on a White Rabbit scavenger hunt in the exhibit gallery, try their hand at a Lewis Carroll word puzzle, and go mad as a guest at the table in our Mad Tea Party Photobooth. Additional items from the exhibit, which will not be in the exhibit until next year, were also on display for guests to explore.

Visitors also had the chance to participate in the Libraries’ ‘Adopt a Book’ program and donate to help preserve a fragile item from our rare book collection. Among the books “adopted” were a set of  rare miniature children’s books from the Association for Childhood Education International collection housed in Special Collections and University Archives.

Did you miss the frabjous festivities? Or, perhaps you want to relive all the excitement!  Visit our Flicker gallery with images from the opening reception. And thank you to everyone who made the evening such a success!


Frederick Douglass Celebrated


This week Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) continues the spotlight on Frederick Douglass, prominent Marylander and social reformer. Visit Hornbake Library to view new exhibits on display in conjunction with the dedication of the new Frederick Douglass plaza just outside Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland.

The new Frederick Douglass plaza is located just steps away from the reading room for Special Collections and University Archives, where students can discover primary sources on his life and times. And there is lots more to explore in Hornbake Library this week!

A new exhibit, Frederick Douglass in Special Collections, features items from our rare books collection, historic manuscripts, and Maryland collection, including Douglass’ autobiographies and more.

Visitors can also walk though the 1st floor lobby to explore a panel exhibit on the life, scholarship, and legacy of Frederick Douglass.

Visit the Maryland Room to view artifacts from Wye House in Maryland, from the Archaeology in Annapolis project, a partnership between the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland and Historic Annapolis Foundation.

Also on display is a new acquisition to our Maryland Manuscripts collection- a general store ledger from Wye Landing, Maryland dated 1809-1812. It is an intriguing primary source on commerce and the role of African-Americans in the area, detailing items purchased and their prices, including notations indicating items purchased by slaves/servants for their masters.

It all leads up to the Frederick Douglass Plaza dedication on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. Join us to celebrate the arrival of this inspirational Marylander and his ongoing legacy at the University of Maryland.


Curator Pick: Favorite Item from the Alice 150 Exhibit

Okama’s Alice in Wonderland manga brings back fond memories of sitting cross-legged in the Borders stacks with a pile of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura books by my side. I would have been instantly captured by the cover, counting my money, and fretting over which book to put back so I could add Okama’s to my bookshelf.

Alice is falling down the well.

Looking through this manga version of Alice is like receiving a double shot of nostalgia. Two fond parts of my childhood make up every panel from wishing to see the wonders of Wonderland to wishing to be as fashionable and cute as the manga characters I adored.

Alice is sitting at the table with the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse. Tea cups are everywhere and the table nearly extends off the page.

Okama draws his characters with exaggerated features. Their clothing is highly detailed as are the scene settings with their patterns and striped elements. The most impressive garb, as is befitting their station, belong to the King and Queen of Hearts. Their stylized appearance is based on the traditional card deck royalty and their fashions.Alice is surrounded by the Queen of Hearts' subjects. The queen is pointing at Alice accusingly as four cards lay prostrate before her.Alice is staring up at the Chesire Cat who is smiling down at her from a tree.

My only wish is that I knew how to read Kanji so that I could further enjoy Okama’s work!

Visit the Alice 150 and Counting exhibit in Hornbake Library to view more international editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or explore our online exhibit.

Sabrina Reed is an intern for Hornbake Library-Special Collection’s ‘Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll’ exhibit. As a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s iSchool, her areas of focus are youth media, diversity, and digital literacy. Sabrina is also an alumna of the university’s undergraduate English program. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing.

New Additions to Special Collections

New acquisitions to Special Collections and University Archives includes several private press books including The English Bible, printed at the Doves Press, as well as Don Quixote and Spenser’s Faerie Queene printed at the Ashendene Press.   Also included among these beautifully printed books are plates of John Martin’s mezzotint illustrations of Paradise and Lost and Morte D’Arthur,  printed at the Shakespeare Head Press.

Visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to view more items from our literature and rare book collections.


Alice 150 Featured Item of the Month: November

Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz, an exhibit highlighting the timelessness of Alice in Wonderland and the life and work of Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), will showcase a new Alice related item every month.

In November, visit the Maryland Room  Gallery in Hornbake Library to view a collection of witty and whimsical cookbooks based upon characters and moments in Alice in Wonderland. Looking for some holiday cooking inspiration?  Learn the long sought-after recipes for “stuffed dormouse”, and “flamingo tongues”which can be found in Alice Eats Wonderland: An Irreverent Annotated Cookbook, written by August Imholtz himself.

View all the featured items of the month from Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll.

Trick or Treat from Alice!


Trick or Treat, watch your feet,

beware any rabbits that you meet, 

If you don’t, best beware,

you might end up in the Jabberwock’s lair!

Here’s our treat (with maybe a few tricks thrown in) from our Alice 150 Years and Counting exhibit!

Some of the Lewis Carroll books in our exhibit have some frightful illustrations, here are a few of our favorites:

While almost every image of the Cheshire Cat’s grin is unnerving, here’s some that really gave us the chills:

And perhaps the scariest of them all…the Jabberwocky!alice-module2-throughthelookingglass1984Tenniel_11

Hungry for more?


Our exhibit is now open to the public in Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland!