Spotlight on Wonderland: The Duchess

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With a frustrating mix of rain, wind, sunshine, pollen, and taxes, the month of April is certainly reminiscent of the volatile tempers of the Duchess. Blustery then blithe, raucous then regal, the duchess is an absolute mess of contrary and contrasting emotions.

When Alice first walks into the Duchess’ home, she notes the distinct and overwhelming aroma of peppery soup, followed by the sound of howling and sneezing. These sounds arise from the duchess and her baby sitting in the middle of the room, feeling the effects of an overzealous cook.

`There’s certainly too much pepper in that soup!’ Alice said to herself, as well as she could for sneezing.

There was certainly too much of it in the air. Even the Duchess sneezed occasionally; and as for the baby, it was sneezing and howling alternately without a moment’s pause. The only things in the kitchen that did not sneeze, were the cook, and a large cat which was sitting on the hearth and grinning from ear to ear.

When Alice attempts to calm the cacophonous kitchen, she is rebuked. “If everybody minded their own business,” the Duchess said, in a hoarse growl, “the world wound go round a good deal faster than it does.” Not long after, the Duchess all but flings her child into Alice’s arms in her haste to get ready for the Queen of Hearts’ croquet game.

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But this is not all we see of the Duchess. Later, at the croquet game, she appears again in a completely different state of mind and attitude. It is not hard to understand why Alice feels something akin to whiplash when she is greeted again.

`You can’t think how glad I am to see you again, you dear old thing!’ said the Duchess, as she tucked her arm affectionately into Alice’s, and they walked off together.

Alice was very glad to find her in such a pleasant temper, and thought to herself that perhaps it was only the pepper that had made her so savage when they met in the kitchen.

In the dialogue that follows, the Duchess reveals that she can find a moral in absolutely anything. Inevitably, when these morals are stated, they cause the reader’s eyes to cross.

Would you rather encounter a cantankerous Duchess or a short-tempered Queen in Wonderland?

Did you Know:

  • Tenniel’s illustration of the Duchess may be based on a 14th century painting of Margaret Maultasch, Countess of Tyrol, which is titled ‘The Ugly Duchess’.
  • The Cheshire Cat belongs to the Duchess. You can see it in the background of illustrations of her kitchen. When Alice asks why her cat grins, the Duchess, in her usual huffy manner, replies “It’s a Cheshire cat…and that’s why.”

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

Alice 150 Featured Item of the Month: April

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

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In April, visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view a humorous letter from Charles L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).

In the letter, Carroll declines an invitation to an “At Home” party. Be sure to note the purple ink in which the letter is written (a trademark of Lewis Carroll). Carroll made a point of avoiding “At Homes” in which hosts would designate a time for visiting—having said on another occasion, “I dread and shun all such hosts of strangers.”

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

Spotlight on Wonderland: The March Hare

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March is here, and so is the madness! Time to butter our pocket watches and drink too much tea, as our good friend the March Hare has been known to do. When Alice first meets him, she sits down at his large tea party without being asked, much to his irritation. In a rather passive aggressive way, he makes Alice aware of her breach of etiquette.

“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all around the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. “I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.

“There isn’t any,” said the March Hare.

“Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,” said Alice angrily.

“It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,” said the March Hare.”

Touche, you snarky little hare. On top of this, he and the Mad Hatter eventually try to stuff the poor sleepy little dormouse into a teapot.

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What do you think of the March Hare’s manners? How do they stack up among the mad characters in Wonderland?

Did You Know:

  • Tenniel drew straw in the March Hare’s hair to show that he was mad. In England, hares were thought to go mad in Spring. Straw was a symbol of madness.
  • In The Nursery Alice, Carroll wrote, “that’s the March Hare with the long ears, and straws mixed up with his hair. The straws showed he was mad–I don’t know why. Never twist up straws among your hair, for fear people should think you’re mad!”
  • The March Hare’s house, often seen in the background of illustrations of the Mad Tea Party, features chimneys shaped like rabbit ears and a roof thatched with fur.

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

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Special Collections Celebrates 400 Years of Shakespeare!

A new exhibit highlighting the works of William Shakespeare is now on display in Hornbake Library!

In conjunction with the 400 year anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, Special Collections & University Archives joins libraries and departments across campus for Shakespeare@UMD!

Items on display in Hornbake Library include a second folio of the collected works of Shakespeare, printed in 1632 by Thomas Cotes, former apprentice to William Jaggard, who had printed the First Folio with his son Isaac in 1623. Individual copies of the Second Folio were issued with title-page inscriptions to each of the five publishers. Our copy is inscribed “for John Smethwick”. By at least one accounting, “Not more than three or four copies are known with the Smethwick imprint….”

Alongside the treasured second folio, several illustrated editions of Shakespeare’s plays are on display. A beautiful gilt-embossed cover graces an 1848 edition of The Female Characters of Shakespeare, while a wild-eyed King Lear glares out of a 1930 anthology by the illustrator Yunge and a rare print depicts the infamous Falstaff, seated as if casually observing his viewer.

This exhibition will be up through April 2016. After you explore the exhibit, visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to explore more works by Shakespeare in Special Collections and University Archives.

Alice 150 Featured Item of the Month: March

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

In March, visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view Tea With Alice: A World of Wonderland Illustration, a bilingual (Portuguese and English) catalog of Oxford Story Museum’s 2013 exhibition curated by Ju Godinho and Eduardo Filipe.

The portfolio features illustrations from Alice in Wonderland reinvisioned by 21 artists from around the world. Many of the drawings have not been published elsewhere such as Lisa Nanni’s White Rabbit’s House and Lucie Laroche’s Miro-esque tea party.

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

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New Alice 150 Items on Display!

A new year means new items in the Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll exhibit!

We’ve been hard at work turning pages in the variety of Alice in Wonderland books on display, so visitors can explore new characters and scenes from Lewis Carroll’s classic tale.

We’ve also changed out some of the items in our exhibit cases. New items include illustrated books, parodies, and ephemera. Among our new favorites are a reimagining of Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem, in which the Jabberwock is a towering king of an urban basketball court, and “Alice in Watergateland”, a comic that follows Alice as she chases the White Rabbit (Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox) into the maddening world of the Watergate scandal.

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library and discover the new additions to the exhibit. Is your favorite item no longer on display? Explore the online exhibit to view all the exhibit items in Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll!

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Alice 150 Featured Object of the Month: February

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

In February, visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view Alice-inspired humorous presidential pamphlets featuring Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt.

Through the Outlooking Glass with Theodore Roosevelt is a political commentary on Theodore Roosevelt’s attempt at a third term as a Progressive party candidate. Written in the form of a parody of Through the Looking Glass, the story consists of a dialogue between Alice and the hostile Red Knight (Roosevelt).

Frankie in Wonderland, written anonymously by investment banker, lampoons President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal in eight short chapters based on both Alice books

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