On a river trip with the Liddells, Carroll makes up a story about a girl called Alice.
Where did Alice stop and 'Alice' begin?
Wonderland is part of our cultural heritage - a shortcut for all that is beautiful and confusing; a metaphor used by artists, writers and politicians for 150 years.
But beneath the fairy tale lies the complex history of the author and his subject. The story of Charles Dodgson the quiet academic, and his second self Lewis Carroll - storyteller, innovator and avid collector of child-friends. And also of his dream-child Alice Liddell, and the fictional alter ego that would never let her grow up.
This is their secret history - one of love and loss, of innocence and ambiguity, and of one man's need to make Wonderland his refuge in a rapidly changing world.
Drawing on previously unpublished material, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst traces the creation and influence of the Alice books against a shifting cultural landscape - the birth of photography, changing definitions of childhood and sexuality, and the tensions inherent in the transition between the Victorian and modern worlds.
Read by Simon Russell Beale
Produced by Joanna Green
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.