Alice is 150 years old, so of course, she deserves to be celebrated all over the world. Among the fetes is a special exhibit at the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena, CA (February 12-14, 2016). 


Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is arguably one of the most-influential children’s books. It certainly has inspired a diverse group of writers, artists, filmmakers, collectors, and the like.

Among those collectors are Dr. George Cassady and his wife Linda, who donated and endow The G. Edward Cassady, M.D., and Margaret Elizabeth Cassady, R.N., Lewis Carroll Collection at the University of Southern California. Named for his parents, the collection includes more than 3,000 rare books, manuscripts and objects created by or about beloved children’s author, mathematician, and writer Charles Dodgson (1832-98), better known by his nom de plume Lewis Carroll. Highlights from their collection will be featured at the upcoming book fair, including rare Alice books, the novel in translation, and a variety of artists’ interpretations from Salvador Dali’s surrealist Alice to Mary Blair’s 1951 concept drawings for Walt Disney Studios.


The Nursery Alice, cover

The Nursery Alice

New York : Macmillan and Company , 1890 Second Edition. The First Color Edition of Alice. Containing Twenty Colored Enlargements from Tenniel's Illustrations to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" with text adapted to Nursery Readers by Lewis Carroll. It was intended, wrote Carroll, "to be read by children aged from nought to five. To be read? Nay, not so! Say rather to be thumbed, to be cooed over, to be dogs'-eared, to be rumpled, to be kissed..." With this new, younger readership in mind, Carroll rewrote Alice, simplifying and abridging the original text, while Tenniel redrew, enlarged, and coloured 20 of his iconic illustrations. (Offered bBoomerang Booksellers)


Of course, the most beloved illustrations of Alice were those created by John Tenniel in black and white for the first edition. Although most people think of Alice’s puffed sleeve dress with pinafore as being blue, did you know that this was not the original color of the dress? The first colored versions of Tenniel’s illustrations were for The Nursery Alice, published in 1890, in which Alice’s dress is yellow. [You can view some of the images here.

Tenniel’s illustrations are so iconic they are collected as works of art. Carroll gave Tenniel the exact measurements for each image as they were to fit on the page around the text. 

Many people also don’t know that the true first printings of Alice were suppressed “owing to concerns about production quality of the illustrations with only about 50 copies with a Macmillan imprint escaping into the world,” according to One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature (2014), published by The Grolier Club [as part of an exhibition of the same name curated by ABAA-member Chris Loker of Children's Book Gallery]. The subsequent printing was published in November 1865, but dated 1866 for the Christmas market, with 2,000 copies printed and immediately sold out.

Read more about the exhibition One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature... 


One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature 

One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature

Curated by Chris Loker, Edited by Jill Shefrin

New York, NY: The Grolier Club, 2014. 1st edition, deluxe issue. LIMITED to 50 copies, this #6. Quarter bound in blue morocco, gilt spine stamping, marbled paper boards. Blue slipcase. A Fine copy in a similar slipcase.. 318, [10] pp. At rear, an original leaf from the true first edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Advertising broadside laid-in. Many color illustrations (some folding) throughout. 11-1/4" x 8-5/8" This limited issue, in addition to the leaf from Alice, adds an essay by Windle on the history of leaf books, and an essay by Bennett on Dutch paper bindings. (Offered by Tavistock Books)


Rarely do true first editions come to market. Christie’s auction house sold a rare first issue of the first edition (1865, Clarendon Press for Macmillan) with annotations by Carroll for $1,542,500 in December 1998. Of the 50 first issue copies, it’s believed that only half now survive. However, the unused sheets from that print run were sent to the United States and used by D. Appleton & Co., for the American edition of the following year.



Appleton Alice

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

New York: D. Appleton and Co, 1866. Tenniel, John. Octavo. (v)ff., 192pp. First edition, second issue. With forty-two illustrations by John Tenniel. Carroll's enduring tale of a child's dreamworld was first issued in 1865 by Macmillan and Company of London, but Carroll and Tenniel were unhappy with the print quality of the illustrations and canceled the issue, insisting that the book be reprinted. Few copies of that first issue were ever released; fewer still are known to exist today. Many of the sheets had yet to be bound when Carroll suppressed the edition, and a number of these unbound sheets had been sold to Carroll's American publisher, Appleton, who added its own title page. Thus, the first American edition is comprised of the sheets from the suppressed London edition. (Offered by Bromer Booksellers.)


Alice has now been translated into 174 languages, according to Alice In A World Of Wonderlands: The Translations Of Lewis Carroll's Masterpiece, published last year by Oak Knoll Press.

With so many expressions and interpretations of Alice through the past 150 years, it’s clear the story strikes a chord. For me, it’s a deeply implanted memory of my mother reading Alice to my sisters and I by candlelight on a stormy Nebraska evening when the power was knocked out. My love of the book, which now lives on my own bookshelf, emboldened me to try out for and earn the role of Alice in a 6th grade production of the stage adaptation. I can still recall the words, taken to heart, from my solo: “I give myself very good advice but a very seldom follow it. That explains the trouble that I’m always in.”


Alice, Two Volume

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass 2 Volumes

London: Macmillan and Co, 1866 and 1872. Hardcover. Very Good. Tenniel, John. Tenniel, John. Hardcover. First published edition, first issue. Illustrated by John Tenniel with forty-two illustrations in volume one and fifty illustrations in volume two. A particularly desirable set as both volumes are bound in the original cloth with gilt titles to spines and circular gilt illustrations on both covers featuring Alice holding a pig, the Cheshire cat, the Red Queen, and the White Queen. Each volume has been expertly rebacked using the original boards, spines, and endpages with the repair visible in a few places along the spine ends and joints. (Offered by The Kelmscott Bookshop)

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