Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  With forty-two illustrations by John Tenniel.  London:  Macmillan and Co., 1866.  First published edition, in original cloth binding. Frontispiece and title-page.

This children’s literature classic has now been read and enjoyed by children and adults for 150 years.  It has inspired a multitude of adaptations in print, art, music, drama, dance, and film.  And, it all began on a summer day in 1862 with a tale told to entertain children while rowing on the Thames.  The storyteller was English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon, and photographer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898), better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll.  The children were the three daughters of Henry Liddell (Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church), Lorina (13), Alice (10), and Edith (8).  The story was about a young girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a dream world filled with strange and interesting characters.  After Alice Liddell asked Carroll to write the story down, he began working on a manuscript and eventually decided to publish the work.

Carroll enlisted the services of John Tenniel (1820–1914) to illustrate the published work, inspired somewhat by Carroll’s own drawings.  Tenniel was a veteran illustrator for the satirical magazine Punch and was a highly respected artist of the period.  The combination of Carroll’s storytelling and Tenniel’s illustrations resulted in a book that became an instant success for the 1865 Christmas book market, and far, far beyond.

Click the image above to view eleven scans of John Tenniel’s illustrations from within the text of Alice in Wonderland from a 1946 edition published in New York by Random House, with the illustrations colored in the manner of the period by Fritz Kredel.

Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. With fifty illustrations by John Tenniel. London: Macmillan and Co., 1872. First edition, in original cloth binding. Frontispiece and title-page.

In this sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice again enters another world, this time by climbing through a mirror, rather than falling down a rabbit hole.  Here, with the aid of a looking-glass, she reads about a creature called the Jabberwock, encounters more interesting characters like Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Humpty Dumpty, and has other stirring adventures.  Carroll’s first Alice book used a deck of cards as a theme; this one is based on a game of chess.

Although not as widely noticed in the press as the original Alice, Through the Looking-Glass, boasting 50 highly-praised illustrations by John Tenniel, was a definite success.  A reviewer in the Examiner, 16 December 1871, noted, “And best of all is that the book has no moral, and is nothing but a capital jumble of fun.”

Click the image above to view additional scans from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.


John Tenniel. Autograph note. Undated.

Lewis Carroll.  To All Child-Readers of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  Leaflet dated Christmas, 1871.

These two items were laid into the Armstrong Browning Library’s recently acquired copy of Through the Looking-Glass.  The note by illustrator John Tenniel is addressed Dear A. á B., and simply reads, All’s well that ends well!!!!  Haste  Ever --, and is signed with Tenniel’s famous initials.

The small leaflet expresses Carroll’s Christmas greetings to the dear children, whose faces I shall never see, and includes a serious message, wishing them a life which has sought and found that truest kind of happiness, the only kind that is really worth having, the happiness of making others happy too!

Lewis Carroll.  Facsimile of a photograph of Alice Liddell entitled The Real Alice.  Undated.

Carroll was intrigued by the new technology that photography represented.  He soon excelled at the art and became a well-known gentleman-photographer.

[Lewis Carroll].  Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.  [Camden, New Jersey:  E. Johnson, 1936].

This is a facsimile reprint, by Jaffe of Vienna, of Carroll’s original manuscript, which was subsequently developed into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  The original manuscript, which took over two years to complete, is approximately half the length of the published Alice, is carefully written in Carroll’s distinctively small hand, and includes 37 of his own illustrations.  It was presented as a gift to Alice Liddell on 26 November 1864 and is now held by the British Library.

Click the image above to view additional scans from Alice's Adventures Under Ground.

Lewis Carroll.  Alice im Wunderland.  Translated into German by Helene Scheu-Riesz and illustrated by Uriel Birnbaum.  Wien:  Sesam-Verlag, 1923.

Carroll’s classic has been translated into many languages.  The Armstrong Browning Library has a French edition (1869), two Italian editions (1872), and another German edition ([1869?]), all with the John Tenniel illustrations.  This displayed edition, however, was published in the twentieth century when illustrators began to produce varied interpretations of Carroll’s story, many departing significantly from Tenniel’s vision.  Such is the case with the illustrations by Austrian painter, caricaturist, writer, and poet Uriel Birnbaum (1894–1956).

Displayed with scans of additional Birnbaum illustrations from within the text.


Lewis Carroll.  Phantasmagoria and Other Poems.  London:  Macmillan and Co., 1869.  First edition. Title-page.

Following the success of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Carroll’s publisher Macmillan was eager to produce other books by the popular author.  The first to appear was this collection of poems.  “Phantasmagoria,” the opening poem from which the book takes its title, is a narrative between a ghost and a man named Tibbets.  The ghost reveals that being a ghost is not so different from being human.  In another poem, “Hiawatha’s Photographing,” Carroll describes the trials of a photographer by using the rhythm and meter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha.”  The book did not sell well and some critics suggested that Carroll should stick to prose.  They were proven wrong, however, by the popularity of Carroll’s later poems, such as “Jabberwocky” and The Hunting of the Snark.

Front and back covers of Phantasmagoria and Other Poems.

Lewis Carroll.  The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony, in Eight fits.  With nine illustrations by Henry Holiday.  London:  Macmillan and Co., 1876.  First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

In 1876 Carroll published this epic nonsense poem telling the adventures of a bizarre crew of nine tradesmen and a beaver sailing to catch a mysterious creature called a Snark.  It is written in eight parts, referred to as “fits.”  Although the poem deals with both danger and death, it is filled with humor and whimsical ideas.  Accompanying the poem are illustrations by Henry Holiday (1839–1927), artist, sculptor, stained-glass designer, and book illustrator.  The book proved to be extremely popular and has been reprinted many times.

Click the image above to view additional scans from The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony, in Eight Fits.

Lewis Carroll.  A Tangled Tale.  With six illustrations by Arthur B. Frost.  London:  Macmillan and Co., 1885.  First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

In this book, Carroll combined mathematics with humor in ten tales, or Knots, that pose mathematical problems for the reader to solve.  The Knots were originally published serially in The Monthly Packet magazine between April 1880 and March 1885.  In the preface, Carroll writes:  The writer’s intention was to embody in each Knot (like medicine so dexterously, but ineffectually, concealed in the jam of our early childhood) one or more mathematical questions—in Arithmetic, Algebra, or Geometry, as the case might be—for the amusement, and possible edification, of the fair readers of the magazine.  When produced in book form, illustrations by American painter, illustrator and comics writer Arthur Burdett Frost (1851–1928) were added.

Click the image above to view additional scans from A Tangled Tale

Lewis Carroll.  The Game of Logic.  London and New York:  Macmillan and Co., 1887. Title-page.

With this book Carroll introduces his youthful readers to the concepts of logic in the form of a game.  Each copy of the book included an envelope containing a diagram (or the game board) and red and gray paper circles called “counters.”  Carroll ends his short preface by noting that, besides being an endless source of amusement (the number of arguments, that may be worked by it, being infinite), it will give the Players a little instruction as well.  But is there any great harm in that, so long as you get plenty of amusement?


Scans of pages from The Game of Logic

Lewis Carroll.  Sylvie and Bruno.  With forty-six illustrations by Harry FurnissMacmillan and Co., 1889.  First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

Sylvie and Bruno and its sequel, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), form the last novel published by Carroll during his lifetime.  Both books were illustrated by English illustrator Harry Furniss (1894–1925).  The two-volume tale about fairy siblings combines two plots with settings in alternate worlds—one in contemporary rural England and another in a fantasy fairyland.  While the fantasy part of the story has nonsense elements and poems which bring to mind the Alice books, the story set in England deals with social and religious issues of the period.  In the preface to the first volume, Carroll states that he has striven to create something original.  While never as popular with the public as his Alice books, some twentieth and twenty-first century scholars have celebrated the achievement of Carroll’s final novel.

Click the image above to view additional scans from Sylvie and Bruno.

Lewis Carroll.  Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing.  Oxford:  Emberlin and Son, [1890].

 The Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case, invented by Lewis Carroll.

Accompanying the booklet is the postage-stamp case, which he describes as having two “Pictorial Surprises” related to Alice in Wonderland:  the front of the case has a picture of Alice holding the Duchess’s baby (which does not appear in the published book), and as you pull the enclosed stamp book out, The Baby has turned into a Pig!  The back of the case pictures the Cheshire Cat, which begins to disappear when the stamp book is removed from the case.


Interior of postage stamp case.

Letter from Charles Lutwidge Dodgson [Lewis Carroll] to Dora Abdy.  15 May 1895.

Letter from Charles Lutwidge Dodgson [Lewis Carroll] to Dora Abdy.  16 June 1895.

Dora Abdy (1872–1950) was the daughter of an acquaintance of the Dodgson family in Guildford in South East England, where the Dodgson’s family home was located.  On a visit there in January 1895, Dodgson met Dora, who was about to go up to St Hugh’s College, Oxford to continue her education.  As Dodgson was a resident fellow at Christ Church, he agreed to help her settle into Oxford life.  They met numerous times in Oxford in the months and years that followed.

As he closes the May 15th letter, Dodgson brings to mind the card theme of Alice in Wonderland by alluding to the game of “Whist for Two” and making reference to the Queen of Diamonds, the Ace of Hearts, the Queen of Hearts, and the Knave of Clubs.  In the June 16th letter he rather playfully asks if Dora would have the physical courage, & the metaphysical audacity, to travel alone between Guildford & Waterloo, where I would meet you & whence I would see you off.

Lewis Carroll