Curiouser and Curiouser – Alice Does Shorthand


I have an affinity for everything Alice In Wonderland. Being named Alice it just kind of comes with the territory .

But unlike some folks who seem to resent links to well-known literature or pop culture, I actually enjoy the association.

I’ve heard more than one Wendy bemoan the Peter Pan connection, for example. And there are a lot of Charlies out there who apparently resent that Brown kid with a passion.

I’ve even heard a Christopher pop off about NOT being into stuffed bears OR honey.

(No, I’ve never heard of Christopher Robin craving honey either. But you don’t argue with a guy who is foaming at the mouth over his hatred for Pooh Bear. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.)

  The Wonder of Alice In Wonderland

Anyway, back to Alice.

For a while, I collected copies of Alice In Wonderland books and various Alice ephemera. This Alice in Wonderland nutcracker below, for example…

Close up of Alice In Wonderland nutcracker

But at some point a tiny house, combined with a tendency to be a clutter queen, meant my Alice collecting had to be curbed.

I won’t lie, presented with a sweet Alice book I’d STILL snatch it up in a hot second. But I don’t go looking for Alice stuff much anymore, if you know what I mean.

So these days I try to collect more with my eyes.

Which brings me to the actual point of this post. Today I stumbled across one of the most unique and strange versions of Alice in Wonderland I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.

  A Quick History of Shorthand

But first, a quick bit of context.

If you’re anything like me you may have the vague idea that shorthand was an invention of the 20th century. That’s IF you’ve ever even given it a moment’s thought before.

But it turns out shorthand dates back much further. In fact, forms of it were used at least as far back as the 1500s.

At the end of the nineteenth century several forms of shorthand were popular, and vying for the King of the Shorthand Mountain spot.

And Georgie Gregg developed one of the most popular styles of the day.

Gregg’s shorthand used a common method of depicting the sound of the words in writing. And like all forms of shorthand its dual purpose was to make the act of writing faster and to condense the words into a smaller space.

Gregg wasn’t just a creator of shorthand, however, He also launched a publishing house, the Gregg Publishing Company.

And for some reason Gregg decided that combining his two passions would be a good idea.

Most folks linger over literature and savor it. But not Gregg. So as strange as it seems he set about transcribing certain classics into shorthand.

For example, Gregg set Hamlet and Sleepy Hollow down in his shorthand, according to The Public Domain Review. But the one that interests ME the most is, of course, Alice In Wonderland.


Alice In Wonderland Goes Short

Gregg transcribed the book into shorthand in 1919, 21 years after Lewis Carroll shuffled off this mortal coil.

And, to be honest, I think Carroll would have been delighted to see his book, which was, after all, a celebration of wordplay, in this form.

So without further ado, here are a few eye-candy excerpts for you to drool over…

Page from Gregg's shorthand version of Alice In Wonderland
Another page from Gregg's shorthand version of Alice In Wonderland