The Cheshire cat as illustrator John Tenniel envisioned it in the 1866 publication
|First appearance||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland|
|Created by||Lewis Carroll|
|Species||Tabby British Shorthair Cat|
The phrase appears in print in John Wolcot's pseudonymous Peter Pindar's Pair of Lyric Epistles in 1792: "Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin." Earlier than that, A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue by Francis Grose (The Second Edition, Corrected and Enlarged, London 1788) contains the following entry: "CHESHIRE CAT. He grins like a Cheshire cat; said of any one who shows his teeth and gums in laughing."
Dairy farming 
A possible origin of the phrase "Grinning like a Cheshire Cat" is from the large number of dairy farms in Cheshire, hence the cats grin because of the abundance of milk and cream. This is the explanation most favoured by the people of Cheshire.
Cheese moulds 
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says grinning like a Cheshire cat is "an old simile, popularised by Lewis Carroll". According to Brewer's dictionary, "The phrase has never been satisfactorily accounted for, but it has been said that cheese was formerly sold in Cheshire moulded like a cat that looked as though it was grinning". The cheese was cut from the tail end, so that the last part eaten was the head of the smiling cat.
Church carvings 
There are many reports that Carroll found inspiration for the name and expression of the Cheshire Cat in the 16th century sandstone carving of a grinning cat, on the west face of St. Wilfrid's Church tower in Grappenhall, a village adjacent to his birthplace in Daresbury, Cheshire.
The Revd Charles Dodgson, father of Lewis Carroll, was Rector of Croft and Archdeacon of Richmond in North Yorkshire, England, from 1843 to 1868; Carroll lived here from 1843 to 1850. Historians believe Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat in the book Alice in Wonderland was inspired by a carving in Croft church.
In 1992, members of the Lewis Carroll Society attributed it to a gargoyle found on a pillar in St. Nicolas Church, Cranleigh, where Carroll used to travel frequently when he lived in Guildford (though this is doubtful as he moved to Guildford some three years after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland had been published) and a carving in a church in the village of Croft-on-Tees, in the north east of England, where his father had been rector.
Heraldic lion 
In 1853, Samuel Maunder explains:
- "This phrase owes its origin to the unhappy attempts of a sign painter of that country to represent a lion rampant, which was the crest of an influential family, on the sign-boards of many of the inns. The resemblance of these lions to cats caused them to be generally called by the more ignoble name. A similar case is to be found in the village of Charlton, between Pewsey and Devizes, Wiltshire. A public-house by the roadside is commonly known by the name of The Cat at Charlton. The sign of the house was originally a lion or tiger, or some such animal, the crest of the family of Sir Edward Poore."
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 
Alice first encounters the Cheshire Cat at the Duchess's house in her kitchen, and then later outside on the branches of a tree, where it appears and disappears at will, engaging Alice in amusing but sometimes vexing conversation. The cat sometimes raises philosophical points that annoy or baffle Alice. It does, however, appear to cheer her up when it turns up suddenly at the Queen of Hearts' croquet field, and when sentenced to death baffles everyone by having made its head appear without its body, sparking a massive argument between the executioner and the King and Queen of Hearts about whether something that does not have a body can indeed be beheaded.
At one point, the cat disappears gradually until nothing is left but its grin, prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat.
Cultural uses 
The Cheshire Cat is one of many iconic characters depicted in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that have become enmeshed in popular culture, appearing in various forms of media, from political cartoons to television. One of its distinguishing features is that from time to time it disappears, the last thing to be seen being its grin.
Adaptations of the Alice books in film and other media 
Disney film 
The Cheshire Cat in Disney's Alice in Wonderland
|First appearance||Alice in Wonderland|
|Created by||Lewis Carroll|
|Portrayed by||Sterling Holloway (Alice in Wonderland)
Jim Cummings (2004–present)
In the 1951 Disney animated film, Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat is depicted as an intelligent yet mischievous, villainous character that sometimes helps Alice and sometimes gets her into trouble.
Cheshire Cat made non-speaking cameos in House of Mouse.
Cheshire Cat made an appearance in the video game Kingdom Hearts.
1999 TV film 
In the 1999 television adaptation of the books, the Cheshire Cat is portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg, the first time the character is portrayed as a female. She fully acts as an ally and friend to Alice, the latter defending the cat when she is threatened with execution.
2010 film 
Cheshire in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
|First appearance||Alice in Wonderland|
|Created by||Lewis Carroll|
|Portrayed by||Stephen Fry|
The Cheshire Cat appears in Walt Disney's 2010 Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. In the movie, Cheshire (as he is referred to by other Wonderland characters) first appears to Alice as she is walking alone in the forest. He helps her by binding the wound she suffered earlier by the Bandersnatch and taking her to the Hatter and the March Hare. He is later blamed by the Hatter for betraying him during the Red Queen's attack where the White Queen's throne was usurped. However, as the plot moves along, he redeems himself by changing his form to resemble the Hatter during his execution and then evaporates as the axe is about to make contact, thus fooling everyone as the Hatter's hat floats up to the Queen's seat and Cheshire appears and winks. In the video game adaptation of the movie, Cheshire is a playable character who can not only turn himself invisible, but other objects around him as well. The character was voiced by Stephen Fry.
Other major appearances and cultural references 
Prior to the release of the 1951 Walt Disney animated adaptation of the story, scholars observed few specific allusions to this character. Martin Gardner, author of The Annotated Alice, wondered if T. S. Eliot had the Cheshire Cat in mind when writing Morning at the Window but notes no other significant allusions in the pre-war period.
Images of and references to the Cheshire Cat cropped up more frequently in the 1960s and 1970s, along with more frequent references to Carroll's works in general. (See generally the lyrics to White Rabbit by the rock group Jefferson Airplane). The Cheshire Cat appeared on LSD blotters as well as in song lyrics and popular fiction.
An exhibit called The Cheshire Cat at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, created by Bob Miller in 1978, features a mirrored eyepiece that allows visitors to look at a picture of the Cheshire Cat's face with one eye, while the other eye sees a reflection of a white screen to the side.
- The Disney version of the character can also be spotted during the final scene of the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The Cheshire Cat is heard singing the poem "Jabberwocky" before he materialises in front of Alice.
- In the Disney/Square Enix video game series Kingdom Hearts, loosely based on the Alice books as a subsequent adventure, the Cheshire Cat offers Sora, Donald and Goofy clues to prove that the Heartless attempted to steal the Queen of Hearts' heart and not Alice, along with the blizzard spell.
|First appearance||Pandora Hearts Episode 12|
|Created by||Jon Mochizuki|
|Portrayed by||Kappei Yamaguchi|
|Relatives||Will of the Abyss, Alice|
- In the anime and manga Pandora Hearts, one of the main characters, Alice, had a pet cat that died, but returns 100 years later as a chain in a realm created by one of Alice's memories. He came to call himself the Cheshire Cat, and had a more human-like appearance, or a catboy look.
- In the video games American McGee's Alice (2000); and the sequel Alice: Madness Returns (2011), the Cheshire Cat is portrayed as an enigmatic, yet wise guide for Alice in the corrupted Wonderland. In keeping with the twisted tone of the game, the Cheshire Cat is mangy and emaciated in appearance. His voice was provided by Roger L. Jackson, who also voiced the Mad Hatter and The Jabberwock in the game.
- In DC Comics, the New Goddess Malice Vundabar, niece of the villain Virman Vundabar, resembles Alice and controls a carnivorous creature called Chessure that looks like nothing more than a grinning face. Cheshire is also the codename of the human assassin Jade Nguyen who has a daughter with the heroic archer Roy "Speedy" Harper.
- In the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, the Cheshire Cat is an overseer in the Great Library, a library within the "book-world" which contains copies of every book ever written. However, due to "boundary changes", the Cat is renamed the "Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat".
- In Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars, the Cat is Redd's top assassin. The Cat has butcher knife claws and can change from his true form to the form of a small black kitten. He initially has nine lives, but loses all but one by the end of the book.
- The late filmmaker Chris Marker gave his monumental documentary on the New Left movement of 1967–1977 the English title Grin Without a Cat. Like the original, very hard to translate French title, Le fond de l'air est rouge, it signifies that revolution was in the air, but failed to take root. In the film, it is also stated: a spearhead without a spear, a grin without a cat.
- The character Luka in video game Bayonetta is nicknamed "Cheshire" by the titular character, which is exhibited through his ability to appear or disappear at many locations throughout the game by use of a grappling hook.
- The Cheshire Cat lends its name to two public houses in the county of Cheshire; one near Stockport and another on the A41 just south of Chester.
- French singer Nolwenn Leroy produced the album Le Cheshire Cat et moi in 2009
- Cheshire cats is the name given to the widespread genetically engineered cats appearing in the biopunk novel The Windup Girl.
- In the Alice in the Country of Hearts or "Heart no Kuni no Alice" series of manga and anime the Cheshire Cat appears as a catboy punk called Boris Airay. He has tattoos and body piercings, wears exposing outfits, a collar and chain, and a boa. He also has a fetish with weapons, especially guns. In the series, like many of the other characters, he falls in love with Alice.
- The villain Schrödinger in Hellsing is described by his commanding officer, The Major, as the "smiling cat of Wonderland".
- "Cheshire cat – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". merriam-webster.com. 2011 [last update]. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- As stated in the Annotated Alice
- Clark, Ann (1979). Lewis Carroll: A Biography. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. ISBN 0-460-04302-1.
- Gardner, Martin (2000). The Annotate Alice: The Definitive Edition. New York / London: W.W. Norton and Company. p. 62. ISBN 0-393-04847-0.
- "Cheshire Cat found by fans of Lewis Carroll". The Toronto Star (Toronto ON). Reuters. 8 July 1992. p. C24.
- Samuel Maunder, The Treasury of Knowledge and Library Reference, Edition 12 Publisher: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longmans, 1853, page 396
- Annotated Alice; the statement "a grin without a cat" is a reference to mathematics dissociating itself completely from the natural world.
- Silvey, Anita (2002). The essential guide to children's books and their creators. Houghton Mifflin. p. 78. ISBN 0-618-19082-1.
- Joan L. Conners, "Popular Culture in Political Cartoons: Analyzing Cartoonist Approaches", Political Science & Politics 40 (2007): 261–265.
- Nobuhiro Watsuki, Hayao Miyazaki, Yuji Oniki, Michelle Pangilinan (2005). The Art of My Neighbor Totoro. San Francisco, CA: Viz. ISBN 1-59116-698-5.
- "Alice in Wonderland – Glossary of Terms/Script (early draft)" (PDF). Walt Disney Pictures. JoBlo.com. Archived from the original on November 15, 2010. Retrieved March 30, 2010. Unknown parameter
- Boshoff, Alison (February 20, 2010). "Alice's very weird wonderland: Why a behind-the-scenes row might see Tim Burton's most fantastical film yet disappear from cinemas as fast as the Cheshire Cat". Daily Mail (London: Associated Newspapers). Archived from the original on November 15, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Gardner, Martin (1999). The Annotated Alice: Alice's adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking glass. W.W. Norton. p. 62. ISBN 0-393-04847-0.
- Brooker, Will (2004). Alice' s Adventures: Lewis Carroll and Alice in Popular Culture. London: Continuum. p. 81. ISBN 0-8264-1433-8. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
- Roos, Michael (1984). "The Walrus and the Deacon: John Lennon's Debt to Lewis Carroll". Journal of Popular Culture 18 (1): 19. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.1984.1801_19.x.
- Vanessa St Clair (5 June 2001). "A girl like Alice". The Guardian (UK).
- Real, Willi (2003). "The Use of Literary Quotations and Allusions in: Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451". Retrieved 7 July 2008.
- "Exploratorium: Science Snacks: Cheshire Cat". Retrieved 23 March 2009.
- "Cheshire Cat Stockport – Pub & Bars Information , 150 Middlesex Road". Viewleeds.co.uk. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
- "The Cheshire Cat in Christleton – Pub Home & About Us". Vintageinn.co.uk. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
- Brooker, Will (2004). Alice' s Adventures: Lewis Carroll and Alice in Popular Culture. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-1433-8.
- Gardner, Martin (1999). The Annotated Alice: Alice's adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking glass. W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04847-0.
- Silvey, Anita (2002). The essential guide to children's books and their creators. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-19082-1.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Cheshire Cat|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cheshire Cat|
- Cheshire Cat character description
- An article on the Grappenhall carving
- BBC article about the Croft carving
- Compilation of the possible origins of the Cheshire Cat