Windows into History… in Wonderland 1.
This month I will be doing something a bit different on Windows into History, with a connecting theme for the whole month: Lewis Carroll (Rev. Charles Dodgson) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. July is an appropriate month for this endeavour. On 4th July 1862, Dodgson went on one of his many boat trips with little Alice Liddell and her sisters, the daughters of a friend and colleague of his, and improvised much of the Alice story. The real Alice insisted he write the story down, and Alice’s Adventures Underground (as he originally called it), was eventually published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, after a great deal of hassle trying to get illustrations drawn to his liking by John Tenniel. The following are two contemporary newspaper articles, reflecting the positive reception the book received when it was first published:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. By Lewis Carroll. (Macmillan and Co.) This is a very elegant piece of fancy-work wrought by clever brain for the amusement and even instruction of children. Externally and internally it is well suited for the season at which children receive if they do not expect all manner of gifts, amongst which books are not the least conspicuous. The pleasant volume contains forty-two illustrations due to the practised pencil of John Tenniel, and that fact should of itself be a strong recommendation.
The above quote is from the Illustrated London News, 16th December 1865. Next we have a review from the Pall Mall Gazette, 23rd December 1865, as part of an article looking at the wider world of Christmas gifts for children:
Of gift books for young people there are abundance; we doubt whether so many really good ones have ever been published in one year. First among them we may mention “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (Macmillan and Co.), embellished with more than forty illustrations by John Tenniel. This delightful little book is a children’s feast and triumph of nonsense; it is nonsense with bonbons, flags and music; never inhuman, never inelegant, never tedious. Take a rabbit, a dodo, a little girl, a boarding-school prospectus, a mouse, a griffin, a cat, a puppy, a guinea-pig, and almost anything else you can think of that is innocent and unexpected; shake it all up in a Brobdignag-Lilliput kaleidoscope, and you have (when you have done it) a tale like the one before us…
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