London: Macmillan & Co., 1866. Second (first published) edition. The book that forever changed the face of children’s literature. A lovely, entirely unrestored copy in the original publisher's red, gilt-stamped cloth, gilt edges, dark green end papers, Burn & Co. binder's ticket on lower pastedown. Tiny split in the cloth at the top of the front hinge, spine a trifle toned and gently cocked. Previous owner's bookplates on the front paste-down (Terry and Stephen George Holland), otherwise clean and unmarked. Slight separation within the page block, notably at the pages adjacent to the end papers (which are still completely intact). Early issue with the inverted "S" on the last line of the contents page. Housed in a custom slipcase with chemise.
“Have I gone mad?”
“I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something… the best people usually are.”
Cleverly crafted by Oxford don, Charles Dodgson, under the pen name Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” remains one of the most influential pieces of children’s literature ever written. The book has been published in more than 112 languages and defined the popular “nonsense” genre of writing in the nineteenth century. While teaching mathematics and living at Christ Church College, Dodgson developed a close friendship with the daughters of the college dean, and told them tales of wonderland. Alice, ten years of age at the time, begged Dodgson to write them down and soon after the story took shape.
Alice, a little girl looking for an adventure, follows a curious white rabbit with a pocket watch down a hole into a topsy-turvy land of wonder. Her travels through Wonderland include puzzles and potions, odd tea parties, conversations with anthropomorphic animals, riddles, croquet, and nearly being executed by a dissatisfied Queen, just as she finds herself waking from a dream. Inspired by the Oxford landscape and crafted by Dodgson’s own clever imagination, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” displays significant depth for a children’s story. The rigid Victorian standards that required children to be seen, but not heard, is broken as Alice displays a strong voice within the story; unhesitatingly contradicting others when they are wrong, and growing angry when situations become ridiculous. Her independence from conventional society and contradiction of its statutes are manifested as Alice exclaims in the final chapter: “you’re nothing but a pack of cards!” (Ch. 12)
While the original manuscript given to Alice, which was hand written and illustrated by Dodgson, remains with the British Library, Dodgson published the story in 1865 with accompanying illustrations by John Tenniel. The first 2,000 copies were not distributed because Tenniel was dissatisfied with the print quality. Macmillan quickly reprinted the book using this 1866 title page, with copies available as early as November 1865, making this the first "published" edition available for purchase at bookstores. The 2,000 unbound sheets that were rejected by Tenniel were sent to the U.S. publisher, Appleton & Co., who bought the rights and used them as the first U.S. edition approximately six months later in 1866. Near Fine (Item #1607)
Out of stock