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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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Book review: “Lewis Carroll – The Worlds of His Alices”

Edward Guiliano recently published his new book “Lewis Carroll – The Worlds of His Alices”. In it, he discusses the works that Lewis Carroll produced throughout his lifetime and what they tell us about his personality and skills.

When I heard about this book and read its description, I didn’t really know what to expect. Apparently it wasn’t a biography, but an ‘analysis’. I wondered what exactly would be analysed and how deep it would dive into all those topics – as the book seemed to cover numerous works, it possibly couldn’t be very thorough? And how much focus would there be on the ‘Alice’ books (which of course I’m interested in most)?

The publishers were kind enough to provide me with a copy, so I was able to write this review for everyone else who is wondering whether they should purchase this book.

Cover of "Lewis Carroll - The Worlds of His Alices"
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Review: “The Dodo Knight” by Michelle Rene

Author Michelle Rene wrote a novella in which an old Alice Liddell looks back on the events that caused ‘the Liddell riddle‘. In this mixture of fiction and facts, we learn why the friendship between Charles Dodgson and Alice ended and almost all contact ceased.

Book "The Dodo Knight" by Michelle Rene

“The Dodo Knight” is a short story (just a little over 100 pages) of the ‘historical fiction’ genre. It takes place in the Victorian era and uses everything we know about Charles Dodgson and the Liddell family, to tell ‘the true story’ of what happened between them to cause the rift we are still speculating about. Of course, that story was made up by the author, who is merely ‘filling the gaps in history’, as she calls it, with her own take on what might have happened.

Don’t fear: it’s not one of these books that contributes to the spreading of false claims and speculations – in the afterword, Rene clearly explains which parts were made up. Still, it is a book that can be received quite differently, depending on how much you know about the circumstances and the backgrounds of the main characters, and depending on how much you detest the idea that Dodgson could have had a love relationship with one of the Liddells.

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Original printing blocks for the first ‘Alice’ editions auctioned

Yesterday, the original electrotype blocks used for printing the illustrations of the first editions of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there” were sold at auction house Christie’s.

To be able to print the illustrations, Tenniel drew on wooden blocks, which were subsequently cut by the Dalziel Brothers. From these wooden blocks, copper-plated lead printing blocks were electrotyped.

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Auction: Through the Looking Glass copy with Carroll’s annotations

On July 10th, Sotheby’s in London will auction a copy of ‘Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there’, that was rejected by Lewis Carroll because he was not satisfied with the printing quality. This was Carroll’s own copy and contains his hand-written notes.

This is not a first edition; it is a third edition (’60th thousand’) from 1893. Lewis Carroll was known to be very fussy about the printing quality of his books, so the very first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was not the only one that was recalled. This batch was recalled as well and he even threatened to end his contract with the Macmillan publisher because of it.

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