Alice I Have Been

Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole—and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.”

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice—he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

News & Awards

A National Bestseller (New York Times Extended List)
Featured on NPR’s Fresh Air and Weekend Edition
Chosen as one of Indie Booksellers’ Sizzling Summer Picks on NPR’s Morning Edition
Featured in USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and People
Featured Pick on Maximum Shelf
Chosen by Target as an Emerging Author title


“Benjamin draws on one of the most enduring relationships in children’s literature… spinning out the heartbreaking story of Alice from Alice in Wonderland…Focusing on three eras in Alice’s life, Benjamin offers a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends facts with fiction. This is book club gold.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review, “Pick of the Week”

“Benjamin’s novel imagines the truth behind the mystery of Lewis Carroll’s relationship with his child muse, Alice Liddell. Although the shadow of inappropriateness always lingers, this is truly a love story, albeit one that could happily exist only in a fairy tale. This novel will have wide appeal as it includes history, romance, literature, and a great deal of suspense.”
Library Journal
“Genuinely moving.”

Alice I Have Been graces an imagined Alice Liddell with her own voice and story, but what really sets this latest Victorian fictional resurrection apart is its awareness of the demonic dimension of great literature. Powerful stories captivate their readers—and sometimes also their muses. As Benjamin vividly depicts here, the young girl who became the muse for one of the most rollicking children’s tales of all time may have also became, to some extent, its prisoner, pressed into the looking glass of its fictions.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“Melanie Benjamin works valiantly to conjure up the real girl behind the Wonderland myth, and finds glints of genuine magic.”
Entertainment Weekly

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