The Alice in Wonderland World Is A Fantasy: But This Isn't...

BBC Radio Segment – Transcribed

ANNCR:

On today’s “Tracking the Muse” BBC entertainment reporter Jonathan Owens examines a controversial book that purportedly unmasks perhaps the greatest literary lie of all time.

Jonathan Owens:

For generations, Lewis Carroll’s beloved novels, “ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND” and “THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS, AND WHAT ALICE FOUND THERE,” over the years its popularity has only increased, inspiring numerous and varied adaptations in media ranging from stage and film to television and even comic books. During this time, it’s been universally accepted that Carroll, nom de plume for the Reverend Charles Dodgson, invented his classic tale to entertain a seven-year-old friend named Alice Liddell.

However, startling new evidence, brought to light by author Frank Beddor in his explosive novel, “THE LOOKING GLASS WARS” suggests that Lewis Carroll did not tell Alice Liddell the story of Wonderland. Rather, she told him.

Beddor bases his conclusion on a journey that began several years ago in London. In a recent interview with this reporter, the author descripted how he came to uncover the fascinating truth behind the fiction.

Beddor:

“Well, it was while visiting an exhibit of antique playing cards on display at the British Museum, I was drawn to an incomplete deck of cards that seemed to be illuminated by an unusual glow, almost as though the cards were alive. To my amazement, these cards depicted a much darker version of the Alice in Wonderland story. I was so intrigued, that the next morning I headed over to local antique shop specializing in 19th century cards, where I was shocked to learn the dealer possessed the missing cards from the deck! Then he told me an astonishing story: that Alice Liddell was not the girl she appeared to be that she had, in fact, been adopted by the Liddell family and that her real name was Alyss Heart.

A mysterious deck of dark cards inspired The Looking Glass Wars
A mysterious deck of dark cards inspired The Looking Glass Wars

Jonathan Owen:

Following the extensive research into the accuracy of these controversial statements, Beddor found himself compelled to expose the truth in “The Looking Glass Wars.” Not everyone was impressed. When asked, Jilly Cooper, best-selling British author of Riders, Rivals and Polo, fumed.

Jilly Cooper:

“It’s a disgrace, of course writers sometimes take stories and legends as inspiration... But to alter the intrinsic nature of the characters is just awful. It’s cheating.”

Likewise, Judith Kerr, the creator of the Mog stories, said:

Judith Kerr:

“I think it’s an absolutely terrible idea to take anything good that someone has written and rewrite it. Words fail me.”

Jonathan Owen:

2005-2007 Children’s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson said it could be brilliant.

Jacqueline Wilson:

“But anybody that says I’m going to re-work Jane Austen or Shakespeare is being very bold and setting themselves up for people to be very iffy. I feel slightly anxious about this because it is so much part of the English literature tradition. When you think of Alice in Wonderland, you think of Oxford and the tradition and when in the same sentence you’re saying video games, I think, maybe not. But nowadays, sadly, I don’t think the average eight-nine-ten-year-old as read Alice.”

Jonathan Owen:

Not all Brits are negative, numerous reviewers are quite impressed with Mr. Beddor’s book. The Times of London, wrote, “This ingenious reworking, is powerful, eventful, and dark. Which is entirely legitimate, given the surreality of the original.” The Independent, called it “Revolutionary.”

The Looking Glass Wars Novel By Frank Beddor
The Looking Glass Wars Novel By Frank Beddor

Frank Beddor:

“I don’t mind a bit of criticism, if the critic has read my work, for the most part though, these writers haven’t read my book which makes their reaction seem a bit shrill ‘scolding’ for somehow breaking the rules. For instance, when Michael Morpurgo harrumphed. “A storyteller of great originality should not need to take someone’s else template.”

He had not read my book, but after he read it, in an interview on the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Michael conceded he was unnecessarily harsh. “I think the remarkable thing about the book is it’s very vibrant, it’s imaginative, it’s visual, it’s very well researched. What Frank has done is he’s interwoven the history…of Alice and then told his own extraordinary, and believable visual and fast-moving tale.”

“That’s a 180-degree reaction. Thanks for reading Michael!”

“What did surprise me was the power of the Lewis Carroll Society and the intensity of the members.”

Jonathan Owens:

Indeed, you seemed to have ruffled a few feathers at the Lewis Carroll Society. When I spoke with the President of London’s famed Lewis Carroll Society, Reginald Mac Nee, he said: “It’s pure rubbish, a scandalous pack of lies designed to drag the name of one of literature’s greatest geniuses through the mud!” Alan White, Secretary of the Lewis Carroll Society, agrees, although he makes clear this is his opinion, not that of the organization. “Mr. Beddor has not understood Lewis Carroll.”

Frank Beddor:

“Alice has survived many adaptations, I mean, no disrespect to the purist, the original is strong enough it won’t suffer. I’ve only added to Alice’s legacy in pop culture.”

Jonathan Owen:

Varies LCS have resorted to every means in their power, short of book burnings, to stop the spread of the author’s myth-defying revelations.

Frank Beddor:

“A small group of these LCS members are fanatics, when I arrived at Heathrow Airport for a press junket there was a group of them arms linked on the tarmac with a banner declaring, ‘Off with Frank Beddor’s head!’ Shocking! You don’t get that sort of passionate protest in the USA about books.” Politics yes!”

Jonathan Owen:

I asked Brian Viner, (The Independent) should Mr. Beddor or anyone else be allowed to tinker with classic works of literature?

Brian Viner:

“The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.  After all, the arch-tinker of classic tales was William Shakespeare, whose play Romeo and Juliet clearly owes something to Ovid’s poem of star-crossed lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe, written in the first century AD. Equally robust questions were asked by some television critics when Andrew Davies, the scarily prodigious adapter of literary classics for the small screen, introduced a bit of racy lesbianism into his version of Vanity Fair. All he was doing was setting the Parallel nearer to sight than to throw it off at a Distance. What Davies was also doing, of course, was chasing ratings-which whatever anybody says, has been the telling going back to a long time before Ovid. So, to bring all this back to the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the March Hare, Mr. Beddor can do what he likes to Alice in Wonderland. The original will endure, and the may the best version, original or rewrite, endure longer.”

Jonathan Owens:

The book has another adherent, esteemed scholar and Oxford Professor of History, Colin Clements. He points to several notable facts that support Beddor’s contentions.

Alice Liddell Photographed by Lewis Carroll
Alice Liddell Photographed by Lewis Carroll

Prof Colin Clemens:

Few people are aware, but there does exist a certificate showing Alice/Alyss Liddell was in fact adopted. In addition, there is that damning letter from Alice to Macmillan Publishers complaining about the fictionalization of her life story. But the paper trail does not end there. It is very likely that vital clues and evidence regarding the “Alyss Mystery” were contained within the correspondence and dairies the Rev. Dodgson, a prolific and meticulous diarist, kept throughout his life.

For reasons unknown, members of Charles Dodgson’s family were quick to suppress these vital documents, even resorting to burning many of them after his unexpected and untimely death from pneumonia in 1898. While academics a century later published books and gained tenue by promoting the sordid and simplistic ‘pedophilia theories’ as hidden elements of the burned and missing diaries, perhaps the family’s reason for the destruction of the personal documents was for a much more practical reason. Did Rev. Dodgson disclose the true origins of his wonderland tale? Did the family fear for his literary reputation?

Jonathan Owen:

In addition to drawing the ire of his many critics, Beddor’s literary efforts have also attracted like minded truth seekers. Upon reading The Looking Glass Wars, renowned Astral Traveler and Interstellar author, E.A. Cavalier sensed a kindred spirit in Beddor.

E.A. Cavalier:

“For several years, I have been tracking the myth of Hatter Madigan., (i.e.  the Mad Hatter) an other-worldly warrior who appeared in France in 1859 in search of ‘Wonderland’s lost Princess’. He proceeded to crisscross the planet for 13 years until his search successfully ended in London. These events dovetail perfectly with Mr.

Beddor’s findings. When Frank and I compared notes, er realized we both had come upon a story beyond our wildest imaginations and that’s quite far.”

Jonathan Owens:

As always, the verity or falsehood of such important claims must be made on an individual basis. Therefore, we urge our listeners to pick up a copy of “The Looking Glass Wars,” and judge for yourself. You may be persuaded to believe Wonderland really does exist! This is Jonathan Owens for the BBC’s “Tracking the Muse.”

Celebrating The Circle of Life

Today I am celebrating my son Luc’s 17th birthday and marking the anniversary of my father’s death. Fifteen years ago, today, he passed on my son’s second birthday. A powerful reminder that we are all a part of this circle of life.

I’m so proud of the young man Luc has become.  He’s an independent, smart, and thoughtful person and is just starting the process of considering colleges to visit. As his dad, I’m excited to see where life leads him, what turns he’d make down an unseen road.  I think about that someday, when Luc will be confronted with losing me and I wonder what I’d say to prepare him.

Fifteen years ago, when I was coming to terms with losing my dad, deep in grief and overwhelmed by the loss of his presence, I flashbacked on something my father always told me the night before he would travel.

The first time this happened, I was eleven years old and he was flying to Mexico City.  We sat in the living room and he said, “Son, in the event something happens to me, the plane goes down and I was to die tomorrow, remember this: I’ve lived a full and wonderful life.  My greatest gift was marrying your mother and being your dad. I consider myself the luckiest man in the world. And when you get sad, hold my words in your mind and you’ll be okay.”

My dad was trying to prepare me for the reality of this circle of life. And indeed, his words stayed with me. Both in the darkest of hours and in the brightest of days.

I’ve thought a lot about how to share these words of comfort with Luc. How to keep the connection of this circle going through me to him.  I remembered two other things that brought us immeasurable meaning and closure. 

One was that I got to say everything I wanted to my dad and got to ask him everything I wanted to ask during the last few months of his life.  The second thing was, I had the privilege of giving his eulogy and felt it captured and honored his life.

My dad lived to be 83, and I’m grateful for each and every one of those years.  But no matter the age a parent dies, it’s always too soon.

Today, as a way of actively remembering my dad on the anniversary of his death, and to pass on the baton to Luc at 17, I want to share the eulogy I gave at his service and some photos on this day of remembrance.


Come On Along With Us.

By Frankie Beddor

On November 10th, my father was peacefully called to join his father Frank Sr., his mother Genevieve and sister Marge. Even though my family had time to adjust to the news that he was very ill and would not recover, the reality of him actually leaving us was incredibly hard. The fact that my son’s second birthday came on the same day as my father’s passing pushed my emotions even harder. While on the one hand it was almost unbearably bittersweet, it also demonstrated the beautiful synchronicity of “The circle of life.”

And in the mist of all this emotion, I faced a daunting responsibility. As the eldest, I knew I would be doing the eulogy and somehow during the days leading up to the funeral I wanted to find a way for all of us to spend these last moments with my Dad before saying our final goodbyes here today.

Anyone who has stood up and given a eulogy knows how difficult it is…

You want to find the right words, and you want to do a really good job…

And you hope you can make it all the way through.

Looking for some inspiration I found this eloquent definition of a eulogy from poet laureate Andrew Morton — he wrote:

“The eulogy is the moment at which the deceased is brought close, and a time when he or she steps away. It is at once a greeting and a letting go.”

The word ‘greeting’ struck a note with me — in the course of my brothers and sister putting together the newspaper tribute “The Beddor Times” for my parents 50th anniversary this past June, I had read where my Aunt Bea remembered first getting to know the Beddor’s when she was dating Uncle Bill. She remembered the Beddor brothers showing up in their convertible and Dad saying, “COME ON ALONG WITH US!”

The phrase was so outgoing and so full of promise and adventure and generosity — so completely mid-century America that it stuck with me — and I came to see it as Dad’s way of seeing life, business, friends and family. Because no matter what he thought up to go do, waterskiing down the Mississippi, gambling in the basement of The Tub, scuba diving in Cozumel, drinking Christmas Lake punch while leading a Jog-a-thon, racing at Brainerd, or traveling around the world to China to build a school for families living in a cave, it was always, “COME ON ALONG WITH US.”

And people did…a lot of them. They jumped out of planes, scuba dived at night, skied water and snow, drove fast, built businesses, and hiked up a narrow mountain path deep in the south of China, because Dad had said, “COME ON ALONG WITH US.” And so many have told me that they never would have done these things without Frank Beddor, and they will always be grateful for Dad inviting and sometimes convincing them with his customary enthusiastic sales pitch, “Just try it…it’ll be fun.”

And you know he really meant every single invitation he ever extended because for Dad the reason for doing anything was the fun of having everyone he loved doing it with him. But he loved one above all others and he said to her, “COME ON ALONG WITH ME!” and for fifty beautiful years my Mom did! My Dad will be terribly missed, our family is heart broken, yet we take comfort in knowing his life was “A Life Well Lived” and after all, isn’t that what we all hope for, “A Life Well Lived.”

And now I suspect a lot of you, like my family, are thinking who will call out to us to Come Along now? And more importantly who will send the memos?

Well it’s our turn now to extend the invitations and dream the dreams that will bring us together. It’s our turn to call out “COME ON ALONG WITH US” so Dad will hear and know when we’re about to do something crazy or generous or carefree, that he can Come Along Too. Because his spirit lives on in all of us!

Thanks a Million, Dad!

Frank Beddor Sr. (1912)
Frank Beddor Jr. (1954)
Luc Beddor age 8 (2011)
Wedding Day
Wedding Day
Frank and Frankie
Frank and Luc
Holding Baby Luc
On the Green Together
Happy Birthday Luc - ❤️ Dad
At the World Cup
On The Great Wall
Cozumel Mexico
Cozumel Mexico
Building a School In Zhong Cave China
Fearlessly Skydiving
Skiing Vail Colorado
50th Anniversary

Chad Evett, Mad Hatter Cosplay Master at SDCC 2022

To all my Wonderland fans enjoying a trip down the rabbit hole of San Diego Comic-Con, be sure to keep an eye out for the cosplay king and Master Hatter (not to mention my friend and Wonderverse collaborator) Chad Evett. My understanding is that he will be dressed as Doctor Strange today.

Chad will be participating as a pro costume designer in several panels on Friday and Saturday at the convention center. However, on the final day I know he will be cutting loose as the Mad Hatter, and will be joined by his glorious gang The League of Hatters. You will all be happy to know our very own Hatter Madigan will be among their ranks—and I absolutely cannot wait for the pictures to start popping up!

To help pass the time—take a look at this conversation I had with Chad about his amazing cosplay craft.


Q: Frank Beddor

What is Cosplay?

A: Chad Evett

Cosplay is a slang term for the phrase ''Costume Play,'' which is the art of dressing up in costumes and going out into the world. This can mean you embody the character and act like them, or perhaps you just like dressing up.

There are cosplayers who make their own costumes, but this isn't necessarily a requirement. It’s all about going out and having fun.

Chad Evett holding the Queen of Clubs' shoe

Q: FB

How did you get into it?

A: CE

I had always had a love of dressing up and playing about in costumes, who doesn't? Originally it was all about Harry Potter, dressing up and going to the movies or the book releases. From there, it sort of spilled over into any movie or event---let’s dress up, it'll be more fun! (and more work!)

I ended up teaching myself to sew with the help of my mother (an award winning quilter) and the local seamstresses who did costumes for the various theater productions I was involved in. (incidentally, Hi Rebecca! Hi Barbara!)

Q: FB

How did you get into designing? Were you designing for cosplay or were you designing other things first?

A: CE

It had always been costumes. Most of the plays I directed were original productions, so it was a necessity to imagine and then realize fully formed characters. I have a ton of original designs, but those I tend to keep secret. I've had ideas stolen before, so I usually only post my replica work online. (Replicas are a great way to learn new techniques) It was my replica work that got me out to California.  

Q: FB

What's your background?

A: CE

My background is predominantly in theater. I have been acting since I was a child, usually in local productions, and then when I got out of high school I started directing. I originally wanted to be a director, and by directing shows and organizing productions, I took on the role of scenic and costume designer.

 I had always been interested in costumes, but I didn't know how to sew. By doing theater, especially the grandiose fantasy shows I was writing, I was sort of forced to learn this trade because the wonderful, WONDERFUL seamstresses working to build costumes for my shows sort of taught me as we went along. Then one thing led to another and before I knew it I was actively participating in cosplay. Which is a slippery slope!

Chad's Design Sketches

Q: FB

How did you approach creating Whoopi Goldberg's character, The Queen of Clubs?

A: CE

The Queen of Clubs came a little naturally to me---whereas Redd needed to be decadent and a little seedy, Clubs needed to be, in my opinion, classier and regal and refined. I always thought that she would approach her position with dignity, she may not be THE queen, but she is still a queen. So I looked at fabrics that felt royal and regal, but slightly subtle. Also, I felt that Redd would want to Rule the world, but Clubs would want to Explore. So all of her fabrics are eclectic and foreign, the main fabric is a Chinese brocade, that I laired under black crystal organza. Her robe is the same organza, and that ties the look together. ---

By using something like organza as well, the shimmery nature of the fabric aided in making the gown look regal. Also, the fabrics I chose catch the sun rather than reflect it, creating a ''glowing'' effect. All of the crystals and embroidery on the front were done by hand, and everything glass is actually Swarovski crystal. I did 4 different sketches before deciding on the look we did, simply because all of them didn't look quite right. She vaguely resembles a chess piece, thereby subconsciously reflecting the power struggle between Clubs and Redd.

My Mother inspired me. A woman who brings a sense of dignity to everything she does, and how, in my mind, that is the ideal queen. Someone with intuition who works from a sense of kindness and the greater good. So using that as a jumping off point I was able to dress the Ideal Matriarch.

The Queen of Clubs, Inspired by Whoopi Goldberg - Costume Created by Chad Evett

Q: FB

Queen Redd was an audience favorite, how did you create the flesh-eating roses?

A: CE

Those Roses! I found silk roses in downtown LA, and then crafted all of their Maws using a clay that turns slightly transparent when baked. That way the teeth looked natural and the gums looked shiny and fleshy.

Redd, the Red Queen of Wonderland

Q: FB

Hatter Madigan revealed his top hat transformed into blades, was that a magic trick? Or…?

A: CE

That hat was an antique silk top hat that was collapsible, and we re-skinned it to make it look like the blue caterpillar silk of the books. The Transforming Brim was crafted for us by Mr. Pinski Props, and all of the blades are etched with the various Royal Suits of Wonderland. It may not be a Magic Trick but it is definitely a Hat Trick!

Hatter Madigan standing on the Mad Hatter Statue in New York

Q: FB

Tell us about Warrior Alyss and your costume, Dodge Anders.

A: CE

Dodge and Alyss need more on them----they are a prime example of how costumes tend to grow into being. You work on something and tweak it into existence. Alyss was done specifically to look simultaneously hardcore and Mellifluous. All of her fabrics are bridal fabrics, because they have body but can flow. Her color scheme is designed to reflect the ''glow'' of wonder: the power of imagination. Her buckles and fittings are gold, reflecting her royal nature.

Dodge is the regal captain of the guard, but we kept him specifically dark. His fittings were all done in silver, keeping him noble but one step below Alyss (Alice) on the hierarchy. Both of them will have more work done to prep them for further events, but I am really proud of how they are coming along!

Queen Alyss visiting the Alice in Wonderland statue in New York City

Q: FB

Lastly, the shoes Whoopi was wearing on the show - those of her character - what is the story behind them?

A: CE

I knew Whoopi was a fan of shoes, and I knew Whoopi was a fan of the Looking Glass Wars books. So when Frank revealed to me that Whoopi had contributed and become a character in the books, it made sense to combine the two. Her shoes are designed to be something the Queen of Clubs would wear, but realized on fabrics and textures that are regal and royal. They directly match the dress---the same fabrics, colors, and crystals.

I worked with American Duchess in Nevada to create them, they are French court shoes made in black brocade, and they were made specifically For Whoopi. Once I had them I did the handwork and glammed them up, and fitted them with Club shaped Cabochons and crystal work to create something sparkly and immaculate. The soles of the shoes are also stamped with the Looking Glass Wars Logo.

They just sparkle on screen, and I adore them. I want a pair for me! I had so much fun making them for Whoopi, and I hope to do more items for her in the future. The View is such a joyous program, and it makes so many people feel good, that it is an honor and a privilege to do items for those incredible ladies. They ARE royalty!

Queen of Clubs Shoes - Made for Whoopi Goldberg
The Looking Glass Wars Cosplayers on The View -- See Whoopi's Shoes!