On Saturday, after I’d visited the festival bookshop of The Oxford Literary Festival in Christchurch Meadows, I stopped by Alice’s Shop which sells memorabilia associated with the Alice in Wonderland/Alice Through the Looking Glass books by Lewis Carroll.
As you can see it seems to be very popular with tourists and was even busier inside that it was out. I bought some post cards (as part of my campaign to resurrect the art of letter writing- they are letter writing-lite) and Mad Hatter Tea for my father, as well as a Mad Hatter quote card. We’re big Alice fans in my family.
Something that really excited me was learning that the shop itself actually features in Alice Through The Looking Glass. It used to be a grocery shop that the real life Alice used to visit to buy her sweets, and was run by a lady with a bleating voice. This ended up as the mean sheep who sells Alice the egg that becomes Humpty Dumpty. I remembered the passage well because Alice is told that two eggs are cheaper than one, but if she buys the two she must eat them both. It always struck me as the type of thing you would say to a greedy child whose eyes were bigger than their belly, though I could imagine an eccentric shop keeper having such a policy.
‘I should like to buy an egg, please,’ she said timidly.
‘How do you sell them?’
‘Fivepence farthing for one— Twopence for two,’ the Sheep replied.
‘Then two are cheaper than one?’ Alice said in a surprised tone, taking out her purse.
‘Only you must eat them both, if you buy two,’ said the Sheep.
‘Then I’ll have one, please,’ said Alice, as she put the money down on the counter. For she thought to herself, ‘They mightn’t be at all nice, you know.’
The Sheep took the money, and put it away in a box: then she said ‘I never put things into people’s hands— that would never do— you must get it for yourself.’ And so saying, she went off to the other end of the shop, and set the egg upright on a shelf.
‘I wonder why it wouldn’t do?’ thought Alice, as she groped her way among the tables and chairs, for the shop was very dark towards the end. ‘The egg seems to get further away the more I walk towards it. Let me see, is this a chair? Why, it’s got branches, I declare! How very odd to find trees growing here! And actually here’s a little brook! Well, this is the very queerest shop I ever saw!’
I’ll be going back when I get my house buying sorted out to buy myself their amazing character key holders. I think I’ll get myself one of each and use them to hang my necklaces from!