Origins

On 4 July 1862 Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), accompanied by the three eldest daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, Lorina, Alice and Edith, and The Rev. Robinson Duckworth of Trinity College, took a boat trip ‘up the river to Godstow’.

During the trip, the first outlines of the story of Alice’s Adventures under Ground were narrated. On return to Christ Church, Alice urged Dodgson to write out the story for her. That evening and on a train journey the next day, he set out the main headings. He started a manuscript text on 13 November 1862, completing it on 10 February 1863.

It is likely that he left spaces in the text to be filled with his own illustrations at a later date. The manuscript was seen by the novelist Henry Kingsley and the family of the writer of children’s books George MacDonald, who all urged him to consider publication.

Dodgson retained the manuscript version for reference as he expanded the book into the fuller text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In November 1864 he presented the manuscript volume of Alice’s Adventures under Ground, complete with his own illustrations, to Alice Liddell.

Meanwhile, the artist John Tenniel was approached and commissioned to illustrate the final expanded text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Publication

The book was published on commission by Macmillan & Co., in July 1865, in an edition of 2000 printed by the Oxford University Press, the copies to be bound in red cloth gilt. Only 50 copies had been bound when Dodgson heard from Tenniel that he was dissatisfied with the way the pictures came out. The book was withdrawn, and recipients of presentation copies asked to return them. The rejected copies were presented to children’s hospitals and institutions – 23 copies of the ‘1865 Alice’ are known to have survived. (See reference 1.)

In November 1865, the second edition of 4,000 copies was published, using a new printer (Richard Clay of Bungay). The new edition was said by Dodgson to be a ‘perfect piece of artistic printing’. Copies are known with light blue end papers, and dark green end papers, probably 2000 of each, with the light blue copies having precedence. In April 1866, remaining unbound copies of the 1865 printing were sold to the American firm of D. Appleton & Co.. The sheets were bound in England, the edges gilded and the book published under the Appleton imprint with a cancel title page (printed ‘two-up’ so there are two variants showing slight differences), copies are generally known as ‘the Appleton Alice’.

Later issues of the English Macmillan edition have the date and number of the ‘thousand’ on the title page up to the 98 th thousand in 1932. The last reprint was in 1942.

Up to the 12 th thousand in 1868, the text was printed in letter press, so Dodgson was able to make corrections to the text. After 1868, the pages were set in electrotype, so only minor corrections were possible. (See reference 2.)

In the 1890s Dodgson made major revisions to both books, which were incorporated in the new electrotype settings for the 86 th thousand of Alice’s Adventures and the 61 st thousand of Looking-Glass, both published in 1897.

The Sequel

In 1869 Dodgson began to write Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice found there. This was published, again with illustrations by John Tenniel, at Christmas 1871, in an edition of 9000 copies (actually dated 1872).

As with Alice’s Adventures, copies were bound in red cloth gilt, with the date and number of the ‘thousand’ on the title page. It reached the 70 th thousand in 1932. The last reprint, like Alice’s Adventures was in 1942.

At John Tenniel’s suggestion, a chapter entitled ‘The Wasp in a Wig’ was dropped from Through the Looking-Glass prior to publication. (See reference 6.)

The Original Manuscript

In 1886 Macmillan published a facsimile of Dodgson’s original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures under Ground, bound in red cloth. Alice retained the manuscript until 1928 when it was sold at Sotheby’s for £15,400 to Dr Rosenbach, who then sold it to Eldridge Johnson. Johnson published a fine facsimile of the volume in 1936. There have been a number of other facsimiles since.

In 1948 the manuscript was again auctioned, and bought by a group of American businessmen who presented it to the British Museum in 1948. (See reference 7.)

Alice-Related Publications

In 1871 Charles Dodgson wrote a short ‘letter’ – To all Child-Readers of ‘ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. It was published as a small four-page leaflet, copies being loosely inserted in copies of the first edition of Looking-Glass although the text was never incorporated into editions of the books in Dodgson’s life time.

In 1887, Macmillan issued cheaper versions of both books styled ‘People’s Edition’ in green pictorial cloth. Dodgson took the opportunity of making a number of corrections to the text. (See reference 3.)

In 1876, Dodgson wrote a four page leaflet – An Easter Greeting to every child who loves “ Alice”. Copies were loosely inserted in copies of the newly published The Hunting of the Snark (1876), and incorporated in the People’s editions of the two books in 1887.

In 1884 Dodgson wrote a five verse poem ‘Christmas Greetings’. This was first published as a separate leaflet (1884), but later incorporated in the People’s editions of the two books in 1887, and in the final revised standard editions in 1897.

The Nursery “ Alice”

In the 1880s Dodgson prepared a simplified text of Alice’s Adventures illustrated with a selection of John Tenniel’s colour versions of his pictures. This was published in 1890, under the title The Nursery “ Alice”. Earlier, initially rejected sets of the sheets were bound and issued in later years at reduced prices. (see reference 4).

Later Macmillan Editions

After the death of Charles Dodgson in 1898, Macmillan began to publish different editions of the Alice books. ‘The Sixpenny Series’ appeared in December 1898, In 1903 they issued the ‘Little Folks Edition’ with abbreviated text and new colour versions of the Tenniel pictures. ‘Illustrated Pocket Classics’ followed in 1904. In 1907 they issued their very successful ‘Miniature Editions’. In 1911 a combined edition appeared with some pictures coloured by Harry Theaker. ‘The Children’s Edition’ appeared in 1927, with more of the illustrations coloured. In 1995 and 1996 full colour editions of the books were published with the remaining illustrations coloured by Diz Wallis.

Expiry of Copyright

In 1907 the copyright for Alice’s Adventures expired. By Christmas 1907 at least 7 illustrated versions by new artists had been published.

Since 1907 Alice’s Adventures has been illustrated by over 150 different artists, some of whom made more than one version. Particularly noteworthy artists include – Harry Rountree, Charles Robinson, and Arthur Rackham (1907), Mabel Lucie Attwell (1910), Gwynedd Hudson (1922), Willy Pogany (1927), Mervyn Peake (1946), Ralph Steadman (1967), Salvador Dali (1969), Barry Moser (1982). There have also been important editions which include John Tenniel’s Pictures – Riccardi Press (1914), Limited Editions Club of New York, with some copies signed by the original Alice (1932 and 1935) and Folio Society (1961). (See reference 5.)

The Wasp in a Wig

In 1974 galley proofs for the previously lost chapter were sold at Sotheby’s in London. This episode was first published in 1977, by the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, and subsequently by Clarkson N. Potter in New York, and Macmillan in London. (See reference 6.)

Continuations

Several authors over the years have been minded to attempt writing sequels. Examples include A New Alice in the Old Wonderland, by Anna Richards (1895) Another Alice book Please, by A L Gibson (1924), New Adventures of Alice, by John Rae (1917), More Alice by Yates Wilson (1959) and Alice Through the Needles Eye by Gilbert Adair (1984). (See reference 8.)

Parodies

A multitude of parodies of the Alice books have been published over the years, in a variety of genres – didactic, satirical, political, advertising and scientific. Quality varies as widely as the range of targets. (See reference 9.)

References

1. ‘Census of copies of the suppressed 1865 Alice by Selwyn Goodacre’ – in ‘ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, an 1865 printing re-described and newly identified as the Publisher’s ‘File copy’, by Justin Schiller: The Jabberwocky, 1990.

2. Listed in Jabberwocky, the Journal of the Lewis Carroll Society Vol. 3 No. 1; Vol. 17 No. 1; Vol. 20 No. 3; Vol. 11 No. 2

3. ‘Lewis Carroll’s 1887 Corrections to Alice’ in The Library, June 1973

4. ‘Nursery “ Alice” Symposium Issue’, Jabberwocky, the Journal of the Lewis Carroll Society, Vol. 4 No. 4

5. Illustrators of Alice by Graham Ovenden and John Davis, Academy Editions, 1972

6. ‘Wasp Symposium Issue’, Jabberwocky, the Journal of the Lewis Carroll Society, Vol. 7 No. 3.

7. ‘Manuscript Symposium Issue’, Jabberwocky, the Journal of the Lewis Carroll Society, Vol. 7 No. 4

8. Listed in Under the Quizzing Glass by Denis Crutch and Raphael Shaberman, Magpie Press 1982

9. Extensive lists of parodies and imitations in Jabberwocky, the Journal of the Lewis Carroll Society, Vol. 13 No. 3

Credits

This page is based on material compiled by Selwyn Goodacre. Additional material has been supplied by Mark Richards, Edward Wakeling, and Alan White with further enhancements suggested by Michael O'Connor.