Since it was first published in 1865, the story of Alice in Wonderland has enchanted audiences of all ages. The book’s memorable cast of eccentric characters, Alice’s helter-skelter adventure itself and Carroll’s wonderful use of the English language continue to stand their literary ground. It pleases us to offer our Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland edition as a dedication to the memory of the story’s author and the magical world he created.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898) is the real name of the man who’s known to most as Lewis Carroll. He is regarded as a foremost author of “nonsense literature,” a genre defined by its subversions of language conventions and logic. Despite his success as a published author, for most of his life he also kept a post as a mathematics lecturer at the University of Oxford and remained an avid photographer.
The manuscript page that was used to create this cover design comes from a one-of-a-kind book that Carroll wrote and illustrated in his own hand. Inspired by the three children of his friend Henry Liddell, including a girl named Alice, Carroll created the whimsical tale after a summer boating trip with the family. He eventually wrote it down and presented it to Alice, complete with his own drawings as seen here. Of course, he was a scrupulous man and, not trusting his own ability as an illustrator, recruited and worked closely with professional artist John Tenniel to get the book ready to go into print. It was also his belief that for the cover of his book the bright red colour was “not the best, perhaps, artistically, but the most attractive to childish eyes.” Following a similar logic, we’ve complemented Carroll’s handwriting and illustrations with a red background.
In 1928, Alice Liddell, the protagonist of Alice’s famous adventures herself, sold the manuscript at auction and it ended up in the United States. After World War Two, however, a group of wealthy American patrons set out to return the book to its homeland, in a gesture of gratitude to the people of Britain for their valour during the war. Now the British Library keeps guard over the precious manuscript and we are grateful to them for letting us create this special title.