Victorian Book of the Month: Wonderland edition

Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first issued by his London publisher, Macmillan, in July 1865. Before Alice Carroll had published a number of mathematical works under his true name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He adopted his famous pseudonym in 1856 for the many poems, short prose, and even puzzles which he submitted to magazines.

1856 was also the year in which Dodgson befriended young Alice Liddell and her sisters. During a summertime picnic on July 4, 1862, he thought up the story of Alice in Wonderland to entertain the girls. At ten-year-old Alice’s behest, he put the tale to paper.alice

When Dodgson published Alice three years later, he assumed the cost of printing and illustration and thus maintained a great deal of control over the book. When the illustrator of Alice, John Tenniel, was dissatisfied with how his work was reproduce, Dodgson recalled the entire edition – only a few copies survive today. Macmillan sent many of the unused sheets to the New York printer Appleton, which used them for the first American edition in 1866. Macmillan reprinted Alice in time for the Christmas season of 1865, postdated to 1866.

Special Collections owns copies of both the Appleton and Macmillan editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland dated 1886. Other interesting versions of Alice found in Special Collections include the first editions in French and Italian, Dodgson’s adaptation of Alice for early readers, the “Wonderland stamp-case” he issued in 1890, and even a 2014 edition in the Deseret Alphabet! Look for a small exhibit of these items in Special Collections around the Christmas holiday, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Dodgson’s authorized edition of Alice.

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