Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1890)

Jessica Macias

LIBR 280

Book Study

San Jose State University


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Illustrated by John Tenniel



Very little info could be found on the printer. I looked in the book and online for more information on the printer. The first American edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were published by the New York company, Appleton in 1866. First editions were done with impressions of bookplates owned by Boise Penrose (Father of Boise Penrose II, the famous great Americana collector).

The first published edition of Alice in Wonderland: The first ever edition was done in London by Macmillan in 1865.Lewis Carroll disliked the edition published in 1865 by Macmillan so much that he had them all recalled and shipped out to the U.S.A. where the title pages were removed and new American ones inserted. Carroll’s annoyance was with the typography and general look of the book. The illustrator, Tenniel, also complained that his illustrations were not being done justice. It is estimated that no more than 20 of these 1865 issues escaped. They are mostly now held in institutional collections.


McLouchlin Bros., Inc. 1890

Place of publication

Springfield, Massachusetts



Lewis Carroll was born in Daresbury, Warrington, Cheshire, England, The United Kingdom on January 27, 1832. He died on December 14, 1898.

The Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman and photographer. His work was influenced by Edward Lear Leibniz, George MacDonald, and Johnathan Swift. He created poetry and literature works that fall under the various genres including children’s literature, fantasy literature, mathematical logic, poetry, and literary nonsense.

His most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass as well as the poems “The Hunting of the Snark” and “Jabberwocky”, all considered to be within the genre of literary nonsense.

Oxford scholar, Church of England Deacon, University Lecturer in Mathematics and Logic, academic author of learned theses, gifted pioneer of portrait photography, colorful writer of imaginative genius and yet a shy and pedantic man, Lewis Carroll stands pre-eminent in the pantheon of inventive literary geniuses.

From a young age, Dodgson wrote poetry and short stories, both contributing heavily to the family magazine Mischmasch and later sending them to various magazines, enjoying moderate success. Between 1854 and 1856, his work appeared in the national publications, The Comic Times and The Train, as well as smaller magazines like the Whitby Gazette and the Oxford Critic. Most of this output was humorous, sometimes satirical, but his standards and ambitions were exacting. “I do not think I have yet written anything worthy of real publication (in which I do not include the Whitby Gazette or the Oxonian Advertiser), but I do not despair of doing so some day,” he wrote in July 1855.

In 1856 he published his first piece of work under the name that would make him famous. A romantic poem called “Solitude” appeared in The Train under the authorship of “Lewis Carroll.” This pseudonym was a play on his real name; Lewis was the anglicised form of Ludovicus, which was the Latin for Lutwidge, and Carroll an Irish surname similar to the Latin name Carolus, from which the name Charles comes

Lewis Carroll’s influence remains far-reaching today. His writings and ideas have sparked countless creative efforts of all kinds in all fields of the arts and sciences, all over the world.

Title page

The title page of the 1890 McLoughlin book has the title and the Tenniel illustration of Alice. It has large, black lettering with serifs. The title is done in all caps. Blank, powder blue page is just before it and was added to be like the original Macmillan edition.



Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a very popular book. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, and its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was not originally written for the general public but for a single child: Alice Pleasance Liddell, second daughter of the Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford. The story of its composition, as Carroll recorded it in the prefatory verses to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, goes something like this: On a warm summer afternoon (July 4, 1862, according to Carroll’s diary) the author, his friend Reverend Robinson Duckworth, and the three young Liddell daughters of the Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford, made a short trip up the Thames River in a rowboat. “The trip,” explains Martin Gardner in his The Annotated Alice, “was about three miles, beginning at Folly Bridge, near Oxford, and ending at the village of Godstow. ‘We had tea on the bank there,’ Carroll recorded in his diary, ‘and did not reach Christ Church again till quarter past eight….'” “Seven months later,” Gardner continues, “he added to this entry the following note: ‘On which occasion I told them the fairytale of Alice’s adventures underground.'”

According to an account written many years later by Alice Liddell, she pestered Carroll—the pseudonym for mathematician and dean Charles Lutwidge Dodgson—to write the story down for her. “She ‘kept going on, going on’ at him,” explains Morton N. Cohen in his critical biography Lewis Carroll, “until he promised to oblige her. For one reason or another, however, it took him two and a half years to deliver the completed manuscript, illustrated with his own drawings.” Between the time that Carroll began work on the manuscript and the time that he completed it, he had lost the friendship of the Liddells. He had also shown the manuscript to his friends Mr. and Mrs. George MacDonald, who read it to their children and urged Carroll to publish the story. Working through friends, Carroll found a publisher—Macmillan of London—and an illustrator, noted cartoonist John Tenniel. The first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in June of 1865. However, Tenniel objected to some sloppy reproduction work of his illustrations in the printing, and Carroll agreed to cancel the entire press run of two thousand copies and to print a new press run of another two thousand copies at his own expense. This early, flawed edition of the novel is now considered one of the rarest books in the world and commands huge prices among collectors.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was widely reviewed and earned almost unconditional praise. Sales were high and many foreign editions were quickly authorized. Inspired by the book’s success, Carroll began work on a sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, published in 1872. The two Alice books remain in print today, over a century after their publication. They remain, next to the Bible and the works of Shakespeare, among the world’s most widely translated works of literature. Translations are available in over seventy languages, including Yiddish and Swahili.

Context (set the printed book into its period and provide some background information)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865, three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat, on 4 July 1862, up the Isis with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church): Lorina Charlotte Liddell, Alice Liddell, and Edith Mary Liddell.

The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. During the trip the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest.

To add the finishing touches he researched natural history for the animals presented in the book, and then had the book examined by other children—particularly the children of George MacDonald. He added his own illustrations but approached John Tenniel to illustrate the book for publication, telling him that the story had been well liked by children.

On 26 November 1864 he gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, dedicating it as “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day”. Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson when he wrote a more elaborate copy by hand.

But before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party. Mentor George MacDonald read Dodgson’s incomplete manuscript, and the enthusiasm of the MacDonald children encouraged Dodgson to seek publication. In 1863, he had taken the unfinished manuscript to Macmillan the publisher, who liked it immediately. After the possible alternative titles Alice Among the Fairies and Alice’s Golden Hour were rejected, the work was finally published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 under the Lewis Carroll pen-name, which Dodgson had first used some nine years earlier. The illustrations this time were by Sir John Tenniel.

The overwhelming commercial success of the first Alice book changed Dodgson’s life in many ways. The fame of his alter ego “Lewis Carroll” soon spread around the world. He was inundated with fan mail and with sometimes unwanted attention.

Late in 1871, a sequel – Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – was published. (The title page of the first edition gives “1872” as the date of publication. Its somewhat darker mood possibly reflects the changes in Dodgson’s life. His father had recently died (1868), plunging him into a depression that lasted some years.

Incipit and explicit

The incipit of the book is a prefatory poem that Carroll used to introduce the story. The first line reads as: “All in the golden afternoon”


The first chapter reads as:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”


The explicit of the book is a long section that reads as, “and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.”


Colophon Size and format

The colophon of this book is in the traditional space on the back of the title page. There is a small logo that appears to be an emblem of the publishing company.

The colophon simply states “by McLoughlin Bros., Inc.” and on the bottom of the page is states “Printed in U.S.A.” Also there is an ornate M which is shown in the pictures below.

The format for the book is octavo about 6” x 9”

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Collation Paper

The paper of the book has significantly yellowed. There is a small watermarks of a design on the bottom of every page and can be seen in the following image:


Page layout

Illustrations and typeface are in black and white. Printed matter on the pages is centered in a symmetrical area. Illustrations are centered and typically at the start or end of the chapter. There are indentations for new paragraphs. The poems and songs throughout the book are centered and done in smaller font. The text is black and done in a serifs font.

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However, some pages have an interesting layout:



In the Annotated version, I learned that pages were bound by sewing after the paper was folded twice to create four pages. The pages were sewn together as is typical for hardback books. Generally, the binding seems to be a common binding found throughout much hardback bound books of that time. In this particular edition, the binding appears to have been done while taking into account the books use as a children’s book.

Printer’s Device- Type

The typeface of the entire document is in a single font that is very similar to Times New Roman. It has serifs and is done in a large font. The letters are dark and typical of roman fonts.
There is no information given online about the type of font used. There are many editions and various publishers of the book so it is difficult to say definitively what type was used in the McLoughlin edition.

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Color printing

There is no color printing used in this book. There are many illustrations but all of them are black and white. In later editions, color was added to the original Tenniel illustrations.


There are no examples of rubrication in the book. However, every chapter begins with the title of the chapter in block capitals.

Decoration (printed)

The book is decorated with many illustrations by John Tenniel. Centered at the bottom, all of the pages have a small decoration which may be a watermark. The original, hand-drawn Tenniel illustrations are in black and white and appear to be printed from book plates. The books pages all have golden edges.

The following images show some of the many illustrations that are throughout the book.

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As mentioned, the pages have many prints from the original, hand-drawn Tenniel illustrations. However, there are no illuminations. The text is fairly simple throughout. The details like the golden edged pages and the Tenniel illustrations are rich for a children’s book.


This book is hardcover bound with a dark bluish-grey cloth around both top and bottom boards that wraps around to the inside book about 5 centimeters before stopping and covered by powder blue endleaves in the front and back of the book. The corners of the boards are rigid, though they are torn and bent from age and use.

There is gold gilt lettering on the cover and the spine which can be seen in the following image:


Endleaves and flyleaves

Powder blue blank pages are used as endleaves just as with the first Macmillan edition.


Bored with her storybook, one “without pictures or conversations,” the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground–to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature.

The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat–each more eccentric than the last–could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll. The story is filled with wild adventure and whimsical story-telling.

In penning this brilliant example of children’s literature, Carroll has written a farcical satire of rigid Victorian society that showcases a parody of the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up. It’s a story that still captivates children and adults today.

Carroll was one of the few adult writers to successfully enter the children’s world of make-believe: where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal–real, and where the height of adventure is limited only by the depths of imagination. The story has been retold and altered countless times over the years. It is told in numerous languages and has sparked movies and plays.

I found this rare edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland through a friend and I’ve come to gather my own collection of antique books and old editions of the Carroll books.

Reference Page

Carroll, L., & Tenniel, J. (1890). Alice’s adventures in Wonderland ; &, Through the looking glass. Springfield, Massachusetts: McLoughlin Bros. Inc.

Carroll, L., Tenniel, J., & Gardner, M. (2000). The annotated Alice: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking-glass (4th ed.). New York: Norton.


More Interesting Alice books

I recently purchases an antique Alice book. This is published by McLoughlin Bros in 1940. It is a small, condensed version for younger children. It includes the Tenniel illustrations but many of the illustrations are in color.

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These images are from a pop-up book that I love



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Lastly, this is my favorite Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland print because of the amazing illustrations by Camille Rose Garcia.

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