Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written in 1986 by Charles Lutwedge Dodgson (an English mathematician), included the Mad Hatter because it was a perfect character for this upside down storm (pun intended). Oh, and Dodgson used the name Lewis Carroll to keep his real identity private (it wouldn’t look good for a mathematician to be creating such and odd fairytale).
There really were mad hatters throughout Europe in the 8th century when hatters used mercury in their production. The process was called “carroting” which required direct human contact with mercury. The mercury would eventually drive the hatters insane, but at first they would just appear a little silly and out of step with the rest of the world.
There was even a time when hatters were thought to be dangerous, and maybe they were. Typically, the Mad Hatter appears in a top hat with a sign on it indicating 10/6, which is believed to be the price of the hat, 10 shillings and sixpence. However Dodgson wrote the character as being less threatening and more quirky which is basically how we see the character today.
Mad Hatter day was created in 1986 by a group of computer people in Boulder, Colorado. It is based more on the Lewis Carroll character than those men, and women, who actually went totally bonkers.
How to celebrate – Dress up like the Mad Hatter and see if anyone notices. Do silly things and blame it on the day. Read “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.