The story begins with Charles Kingsleigh trying to sell his project to some men. His talk is interrupted by 6-year-old Alice who had that nightmare again. She tells her father she saw many strange creatures including a dodo bird, a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat, a smiling cat, and a blue caterpillar. Alice wonders if she has gone mad, which Charles responds she is. He tells her that all the best people are mad. Thirteen years later, after her father's death, Alice attends a party with her mother at the Victorian State.