Wasp in a Wig challenge

Are you an artist? Then you may want to join the ‘Wasp in a Wig challenge’: produce an image, in any media, of the Wasp character from the dismissed Through the Looking Glass chapter “A Wasp in a Wig”.

A Wasp in a Wig” was a chapter in Through the Looking Glass that never made it into the published book. Illustrator John Tenniel thought it wasn’t interesting enough and ‘couldn’t see his way into a picture’. Lewis Carroll then decided to drop the entire episode from the book.

"The Wasp in a Wig" by Ralph Steadman, after TennielLarissa Averbug, a Brazilian graphic designer and researcher in children’s literature, is currently working on her PhD research, titled “The Multiple Faces of Alice: An Irreversible Creative Dynamic”. The intent is “to investigate, in practice, the creative thinking of contemporary visual artists from distinct media through a ludic experiment”. For her research she is challenging artists to create the Wasp character in any media they like. The challenge might also result in an exhibition and a book for collectors.

If you want an invitation to join the challenge, send Larissa an email: [email protected].

See also the Instagram and Facebook pages of this project.

Turkish translation of “The Annotated Alice” available

Martin Gardner’s very popular “The Annotated Alice” is now also available in Turkish! It is perfect for everyone who wants to understand the story of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” better, but is not very proficient in English.

In “The Annotated Alice”, Gardner has added many annotations to the stories “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there”. These annotations explain amongst other puns and references, or provide more background information that helps you place the story in a Victorian perspective, enabling you to enjoy it as the readers in that time did.

This Turkish version, which was published yesterday, is not a translation of the most recent version of the book (“The Anniversary Deluxe Edition”, published in 2015), but of “The Definitive Edition” from 1998.

You can order the book from Alfa Kitap’s website.

Cover of the Turkish translation of "The Annotated Alice"

First edition of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ with original pencil sketches by Tenniel for sale

A first edition of ‘Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there’ is being offered for sale. The copy is special, because it contains two original pencil drawings from the illustrator, John Tenniel.

The copy bears pencil sketches of Humpty Dumpty on the wall and Alice holding a fawn. The images are reversed, in imitation of what Tenniel would have drawn on the wood for the engraving process. There’s also an inscription with Tenniel’s monogram and the line “Ever yours”.

Two pencil sketches by John Tenniel in Through the Looking Glass

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Set of original electrotype plates for ‘Alice’ illustrations found at garage sale

Four original electrotyped plates, used for printing illustrations for the first edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”, have turned up during a garage sale in Bungay, Suffolk (UK).

According to Hull Daily Mail and Metro News (where I got the photo’s from), a man called Paul Searle unknowingly bought the plates as part of a lot of ‘junk’ during a garage sale, while actually looking for glass bottles for his collection.

According to mr. Searle, he wanted to ‘preserve them in history’ and see them returned to their ‘rightful home’. Hull Daily Mail mentions he ‘sold them to a book shop for an undisclosed fee’ but in their article title a sum of £5,000 is mentioned.

The book shop in question is Blackwell bookstore in Oxford. I called them to verify the information in the linked articles, because they are not very clear. The lot apparently contained two (not four) plates used to print the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (the Hatter holding a tea cup and slice of bread, and Father William doing a somersault), and two plates used to print the first edition of Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there (Haigha and Hatta with the fighting Lion and Unicorn in the back, and Alice standing at the ‘Queen Alice’ door with the frog).

Copper plate of the Hatter holding a tea cup and slice of bread illustration

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Book review: The Tenniel illustrations to the ‘Alice’ books

A second edition of “The Tenniel illustrations to the ‘Alice’ books” from Michael Hancher was published last month. Read what has changed compared to the first edition and whether this second edition is (also) worth buying.

Cover of Michael Hancher's "The Tenniel illustrations to the 'Alice' books"

The first edition

For those that are not familiar with the first edition, let me first describe what the book is about.

In “The Tenniel illustrations to the ‘Alice’ books”, Hancher discusses in great detail how John Tenniel’s illustrations for both ‘Alice’ books were possibly inspired, consciously or not, by existing works of other illustrators. He also discusses what the recurring elements in Tenniel’s style of drawing are, which leads to similarities between the ‘Alice’ illustrations and his earlier work for amongst others the magazine ‘Punch’. He also tells us how much influence Carroll had on the illustrations and how much freedom Tenniel received from the author.

The first chapter, about resemblances between Tenniel’s earlier work and his Alice illustrations, is quite extensive. Later chapters are rather short and each discuss one illustration from the ‘Alice’ books specifically.

The last two chapters concern the process of woodcutting and its quality, printing techniques, and picture placement within the ‘Alice’ texts.

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Japanese translation of “The Annotated Alice” soon available

Next month a Japanese translation of the 150 Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Martin Gardner’s “Annotated Alice” will be published.

“The Annotated Alice” is a very well-known and recommended book in the ‘Alice’ community, as it explains a lot of the background of the story. Both ‘Alice’ stories are printed in full and are supplied with many annotations in the margins.

The book has been updated several times, which led to new editions. The 150 Anniversary Deluxe Edition was published in 2015, when the story of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” celebrated its 150th birthday.

On 19 December 2019 a Japanese edition, translated by Gakuma Hiroshi Takayama, will be published.

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Summer Course: “Lewis Carroll in Oxford”

The University of Oxford (UK) offers several summer courses in 2020, among which “Lewis Carroll in Oxford”.

The summer course is a one-week course and part of The Oxford Experience, a residential summer programme aimed at non-specialists.

During this course, the participants will discuss the real people and places behind the “Alice in Wonderland” story, look in detail at some of the many facets of this famous tale, and see how this work of imagination has been interpreted and reimagined over the last 150 years.

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