July 4, 1862. Writer Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) invents a story that was to become known as Alice in Wonderland while escorting the daughters of a friend, Henry Liddell, on a boat trip on the river Isis in Oxford. One of the three sisters – 10-year-old Alice – asked him to entertain her with a story. So Dodgson invented a fantastical story about a bored young girl named Alice. The little girls fell in love with the story and insist that Dodgson write it down for them to read later. After two years, the author had finished a first version entitled “Alice’s adventures underground” and gave it to Alice. Dodgson continued to develop the story and exactly three years to the day since the initial boat trip, on July 4, 1965 the 27,000-word manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published. Although at first public reception of the book was lukewarm, the story of Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and a host of other characters went on to become one of the most popular children’s books of all time and inspired hundreds of spin-offs, comics, poems, films, plays, operas and video games.
Also on July 4: The United States Declaration of Independence is officially adopted by the Continental Congress (1766). France offers America the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of friendship between the two countries and to celebrate the centenary of American independence (1886). Dorothy Levitt, later to become an icon of women’s liberation, is reported to become the first woman to have participated in a motorcar race (1903). Japan launches the ill-fated Nozomi probe to Mars, becoming the third space-exploring nation along with the US and Russia (1998).
Born on July 4: Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807), Calvin Coolidge (1872), Bill Withers (1938), Álvaro Uribe (1952), Victoria Abril (1959).