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.

Looking forward to Maryland Day 2013?

We’re getting ready for the Hornbake Library activities planned for Saturday, April 27, 2013. Do you remember the activities from last year? If not, here’s the blog post from Hornbake Library on Maryland Day 2012.

UnMasc: Maryland Day Is Here!

April 28th, 2012 by Student

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for–Maryland Day 2012! Come on down to Hornbake Library and join us for a day of activities and programs for people of all ages. We’ll see you soon!

11:00 a.m. We’re off to a great start, and even have a crowd gathering at the REAL Testudo, our mascot from 1933.

Testudo and crowd

Jason Speck and Testudos

11:45 a.m.  Things are really starting to pick up here in Hornbake. You can create your own postcard at our coloring station, learn how to knit your own Testudo, and create an international terrapin!

Anne, Amber, and Rebecca color postcards

crochet turtles

Lizzie and Caitlin with turtle backs

12:15 p.m. Fear the Turtle! (and come on down to make your own international terrapin)

fear the turtle

1:50 p.m. The Broadcasting Archives is celebrating its 40th birthday!

dean steele LAB 40 years

kids in broadcasting

cakes in broadcasting

2:15 p.m. We’ve got some fantastic new postcards AND the littlest terrapin of them all here at Hornbake Library!


cute crochet

3:40 p.m. Things are starting to wind down, but there’s still a bit of time left to come to Hornbake and learn how to knit your own turtle or create an international terrapin!



4:08 p.m. Goodbye to Maryland Day 2012! We’ll see you all next year!