A COLLECTION of photographs, papers, books and personal items belonging to the real Alice in Wonderland is set to fetch up to £2m at auction.

The archive was amassed by Alice Pleasance Liddell and her family over several generations, and sheds new light on her relationship with author Lewis Carroll.

Carroll, one of the region's best-known authors, spent his early days at Croft, near Darlington, and was inspired to write Alice's Adventures in Wonderland during a riverboat trip from Oxford to Godstow with the three Liddell sisters in July 1862.

Among the items to be auctioned by Sotheby's on June 6 is an album of photographs taken by, or relating to, Carroll, which is expected to sell for up to £800,000.

He was fascinated by portrait photography, and the album contains a series of images of Alice and her sisters during the late 1850s, as well as some of himself.

Also on offer is Alice's personal copy of the Wonderland story. Carroll inscribed it "to her whose namesake one happy summer day inspired his story".

It is estimated to fetch between £200,000 and £300,000.

Other mementoes include one of 11 surviving letters written by Carroll to Alice in 1891 - by which time she was the 39-year-old Alice Hargreaves.

Evidence that she really did grow up is provided by her wedding ring, silver inkstand and hairbrushes, and a 1912 bill for binding copies of Carroll's books.

Since the early 1990s, the collection was housed in the Hargreaves' bookcases in Christ Church College library, Oxford, where Carroll had a life fellowship and where he met Alice, the dean's daughter.

The archive is being sold on behalf of the Alice Family Trust, set up by Alice's surviving granddaughter.

Peter Selley, a literature specialist at Sotheby's, said: "To collectors of children's literature or 19th Century portrait photography this collection quite simply represents the Holy Grail.

"This is Alice's personal collection, and it has this amazing and unique provenance in that it has never been outside her family."

Interest is expected from buyers in Britain, America and Japan.

Carroll, real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, died in Guildford, Surrey, in January 1898, aged 66.