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Lewis Carroll’s Children’s Classics Acquired by Marriott Library

Illustrations from a first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, recently donated to the library.

Jan. 30, 2013 – First editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1865, and his subsequent work Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, published in1872, have been donated to the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Rare Books Division, Special Collections at the University of Utah. The anonymous donation was facilitated by a rare book dealer based in Los Angeles, California. The value of the two books is estimated at $30,000.

“This contribution is a wonderful and welcome addition of two major titles in children’s literature,” says Gregory Thompson, associate dean of special collections. “In addition to their contribution to literature, these books are important works in helping us understand the history of printing and we are very grateful for this fine contribution.”

The two first editions can be seen and appreciated by visiting the George S. Eccles Special Collections Reading Room on level 4 of the J. Willard Marriott Library. Directions to the library can be found here .

About the books

The books are in their original gilt pictorial cloth bindings. The inside front boards bear two bookplates, one of Harvard scholar Cyril Bathurst Judge born in 1888, the other of book collector Michael Sharpe. A gift inscription on the preliminary blank of Through the Looking Glass is dated Dec. 25, 1871, one month before its official publication.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s now-famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was intended solely for Alice Liddell and her two sisters. Dodgson made the story up to engage the bored children during a series of outings. Alice asked Dodgson to write the story down. He presented his manuscript to Alice as a Christmas gift in 1864.

Friend and novelist Henry Kingsley saw the manuscript and encouraged Dodgson to publish the book. Dodgson consulted another friend, George MacDonald, a popular writer of fairy tales and fantasy, who read the story to his children and received their enthusiastic approval. MacDonald’s six-year-old son is said to have declared that he “wished there were 60,000 copies of it.”

Dodgson prepared the manuscript for publication, expanding the 18,000 word original to 35,000 words and adding, among other characters and scenes, the Cheshire Cat and “A Mad-Tea Party.” The first edition included illustrations by John Tenniel, a cartoonist for the magazine, Punch. The edition of 4,000 copies was released, under the pseudonym “Lewis Carroll,” in time for Christmas in December of 1865, carrying 1866 as the publication date. By 1884, 100,000 copies had been printed.

Dodgson began writing Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There in 1869. The first edition was of 9,000 copies. It was bound in the same red cloth, a color requested by Dodgson for his earlier work Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


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