The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland
The Cheshire Cat is a fictional character in Alice's
Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The actual
term of Cheshire Cat came from a saying by Peter
Pindar, "Lo, like a Cheshire Cat our court will grin."
The phrase first appears in print in John Wolcot's
pseudonymous Peter Pindar's "Pair of Lyric Epistles" in
In popular culture the Cheshire Cat has had a notable
impact. The Cheshire Cat's famous grin reminds one of a
trickster like Loki in Norse mythology.
There are different opinions about the origins of the
Cheshire Cat before Lewis Carroll's colorful depiction.
According to the Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase there is
a fable about the Cheshire cat. "The phrase has never
been satisfactorily accounted for, but it has been said
that cheese was formerly sold in Cheshire molded like a
cat that looked as though it was grinning", according
to Brewer. The tail end of the cheese was cut first, so
the part of the cheese that was ingested last looked
like the head of a grinning cat.
Cheshire County in England is known for its cheese,
silk and salt mining. According to another source the
cats of Port Chester until the late 1970's had a
monument erected next to the River Dee where a cheese
warehouse once stood. The tale goes that the cats would
wait on the dock for mice and rats to leave ships that
carried Cheshire cheese to London, and so were
considered to be the happiest cats in the kingdom and
that is why they grinned.
Some reports indicate that Carroll was inspired by the
carvings on a church in a village called Croft-on-Tees
in North East England. This is where his father was
rector. According to another report Carroll was
inspired by a gargoyle on a pillar in St Nicolas Church
in Cranleigh where Carroll often frequented on his
travels from Guildford. Some people say that the
Cheshire Cat is based on carvings on the west face of
the tower on St Wilfrid's Church, Grappenhall,
Warrington, Cheshire. The Cheshire Cat was of course
named for the county where Carroll lived.
The first time Alice meets the Cheshire Cat in Lewis
Carroll's book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is in
the kitchen of the Duchess's house. A little after that
encounter she meets him again in the branches of a tree
outside. The Cheshire Cat can appear and disappear as
it pleases and amuses and vexes Alice with its silly,
cryptic conversations. The Cheshire Cat uses
philosophical points to alternately confuse and annoy
When the cat shows up at the Queen's croquet field it
improves Alice's mood and when the Cheshire Cat is
sentenced to death it confuses everyone by only
appearing as a head, which sparks an argument between
the King and Queen of Hearts and the Executioner about
whether or not someone can be beheaded if they, in
fact, don't have a head on a body.
When the Cheshire Cat disappears slowly until nothing
is left but its grin, Alice remarks that she has often
seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a
Stuffed Plush Cheshire Cats
complete with the Cheshire
When you give a plush Cheshire Cat
as a present to your loved ones,
they'll know you really care about them.
This plush Cheshire cat is so soft and luxuriant
when you touch him you'll think you died and
went to Heaven