Alice in Numberland


Mathematical concepts of space, time, logic and scale run throughout Carroll’s most famous creation – Alice in Wonderland. The geometry of the young protagonist’s walk through the shrinking corridor, or her tumble through the rabbit hole into a new universe, invoking later ideas of black holes and worm holes. In the follow up novel Alice’s journey ‘through the looking glass’ could even be analogous to parallel realities and multi dimension theories in physics. These curious connections might make more sense considering Carroll’s love of maths, logic and abstractions of reality, an interest perhaps ignited by his friendship with mathematicians and scientists like Michael Faraday.

To coincide with the V&A’s new exhibition Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, join its curator Kate Bailey in conversation with black hole physicist Professor Toby Wiseman, who recently re-read the books to his own children. Together they will explore the world of 19th century mathematics that so fascinated Carroll, and how radical ideas in logic at that time might have influenced his own creative mind. Finally, they will bring the story up to date with our latest understanding of concepts like space, time and black holes to look for any further links with the Wonderland Carroll created. 

Watch the event