The Adventures of Alice In Wonderland with illustrations by Sir John Tenniel – the beginning of the ‘Golden Age’ of illustration

Illustration by John Tenniel, 1865

The shift to a modern genre of children’s literature occurred in the mid-19th-century, with the ground-breaking Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (the pen-name of Lewis Carroll). The stories of Alice’s adventures in a fantasy world marked a new era. Stories were written to stimulate the imagination of children. They were books written for fun rather than education.

Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914) was born in London on February 28, 1820 and developed an early talent for caricature. The first and probably best-known of the Alice illustrators, Tenniel’s characteristic political-cartoon style drawings enchanted both children and adults alike.

Carroll and Tenniel had a mutual desire for perfection and this  led to the creation of one of the most beloved children’s books of all time.  Many of the 1951 Disney characters as well as illustrations by other artists are closely based on Tenniel’s drawings. 

Alice was not the little blonde girl in a pinafore that we have come to know. Instead she was originally a winsome, dark-haired child, who he modelled upon ten year old Alice Liddell, the child of a church colleague, for whom the Alice stories had been originally created.

 To compare Tenniel’s drawings with Lewis Carroll’s click here.

The following illustrations of A Mad Tea Party have come from several editions of Alice in Wonderland published between 1900 and 1969. You can read more about Alice in Wonderland and its illustrators here.

”Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
‘I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, ‘so I can’t take more.’
‘You mean you can’t take LESS,’ said the Hatter: ‘it’s very easy to take MORE than nothing.’

from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Illustration of “A Mad Tea Party” in chapter in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in which Alice meets the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse. Text on Hatter’s hat reads “In this style 10/6”.
From a book called Nursery Alice, a shortened version published in 1890 for younger children under the age of 5. The book contained 20 original illustrations from Sir John Tenniel who illustrated the original book as well. The images were beautifully coloured.
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’. Illustrated by Blanche McManus, 1900
From ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1907
From Alice In Wonderland – Stories New and Old. Illustrated by Frank Adams, 1912
‘Mad Tea Party’ from Alice In Wonderland. Illustrated by Savador Dali, 1969

 

To see Google Arts virtual exhibition Beyond Wonderland please click HERE.

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