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Childrens Literature

City of Children's Literature - Oxford - Where Harry Met  Alice

Harry and Alice in Christ Chutch Gardens
On Sunday 14th April 2002,  over 100 members of the public along with a number of representatives from the  press from all over the UK travelled to Oxford on the world famous Orient  Express. On this special occasion, this renowned train was hauled by the equally  famous Flying Scotsman recreating the steam of Hogwart's Express. And on such an  occasion it was right that its most special guest providing the inspiration  for the tour and the theme for the day was Harry Potter, travelling to meet  Alice in Wonderland who greeted him on the platform in Oxford with a tray of jam  tarts.

This may seem a strange scenario  but there is a very simple explanation behind this unusual journey. Oxford is  promoting its extraordinary links with children's literature, and in an effort  to demonstrate how strong these links are, joined up with Excellence Travel for  the first of many children's literature tours to Oxford.

It was during his time teaching at Christ Church that Charles  Dodgson, a shy mathematics don, wrote the stories of Alice's adventures under  the pen name Lewis Carroll. It is now possible to trace some of the obscure  story lines in the book to the surroundings and landscapes which Alice herself  would have known while she was living at the college. Opposite Christ Church, in  St Aldate's, is Alice's Shop where Alice Liddell (the real-life Alice) would buy  her sweets. To us it is better known as The Old Sheep Shop in Alice Through the  Looking Glass. The recent Sotheby's sale of Alice Liddell's personal effects saw  the Museum of Oxford successfully bidding against private collectors, and  preserving items such as Alice's dress and fan for the nation.

All those on the 'When Harry met Alice'  tour were chauffeured on Guide Friday open top busses to Christ Church. There  they were given guided tours to discover the facts behind the fiction. After a  sumptuous high tea in the magnificent 16th century Dining Hall they had the  opportunity to discover the treasures of The Museum of Oxford, and still had  time to visit Alice's Shops and Gallery.

The day included the launch, by Oxford children's author and BBC Radio  presenter Humphrey Carpenter, of the Alice in Oxford website. To mark the city's  140 year association with Alice
www.aliceinoxford.net will provide  advice of how to get to Oxford, what to see, and the fascinating background to  the sites and the books. So successful has the website been that it won the  Yahoo Pick of the Week Award in 14 January 2002.

Alice meets Harry with a plate of jam tarts
J K Rowlings' books of the  adventures of Harry Potter have brought children back to reading everywhere and  it seems appropriate that Oxford was selected for some of the key locations in  the films. Look out for Hogwart's Hall on your visit! It was therefore very apt  that Harry should come to meet Alice as a tribute to Oxford's literary  connections.

Other links to children's  literature in Oxford can be found at
www.visitoxford.org

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