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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 10:34 GMT
Export ban for Alice photos
The young Alice Liddell poses for Lewis Carroll
The young Alice Liddell poses for Lewis Carroll
The UK Government has placed a temporary export ban on a set of rare photographs of the little girl who inspired the Alice in Wonderland stories.

"These photographs are an important part of our cultural heritage taken by a widely acknowledged pioneer of photography. I very much hope they can stay in this country," said Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone.

The young girl in the photographs was Alice Pleasance (née Liddell), who at seven years old was befriended by writer Lewis Carroll.

Alice Pleasance nee Liddell
Alice Liddell aged 18

In June 2001 a collection of books, photographs and papers relating to Liddell's fictional namesake and belonging to her family went on sale at Sotheby's auction house in London.

A US collector bought up many of the lots, promising to display them "where they belong" at Christ Church College, Oxford, where Carroll was a don.

As foreign buyers have since expressed an interest in the prints, the government has imposed the temporary export ban in the hope that an estimated £600,000 can be raised to keep the images in Britain.

A consortium involving the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (NMPFT), the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Oxford and the V&A is currently trying to raise the money.

The ban has been welcomed by the NMPFT.

"The NMPFT, acting as government advisor for photographic heritage, is delighted the government has endorsed the cultural importance of an eminent British writer and photographer," said curator of photographs, Russell Roberts.

Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was born in 1832.


Although a brilliant mathematician, lecturer, photographer and scholar, he is best known for his literary work.

Inspired by a river expedition with the three Liddell sisters in 1862, Carroll wrote the fantasy Alice in Wonderland.

Complete with rabbits rushing down holes, a mad hatter and hookah-smoking caterpillar, the fantasy tale has delighted children and adults alike for generations.

The Alice stories are some of the most widely and most frequently translated works, apart from the Bible and Shakespeare.

They have been translated into more than 70 languages, including Swahili and Yiddish.

The BBC's Jo Episcopo
"The few surviving photos of the real Alice Liddell are worth about a million dollars"
See also:

10 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Rare Alice edition raises $1.5m
31 Oct 01 | Arts
'Alice' author exposed
07 Jun 01 | Arts
'Alice' sale tops £2m
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