Alice in Wonderland (First Edition) by Lewis Carroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a children’s novel by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll(1832-1898). The first edition of this work was printed in 1865 by Macmillan, but published in 1866 by Macmillan, London, and Appleton, New York.
Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson befriended the three young daughters of his friend Henry Liddell. One day, while rowing a boat in Oxford, he told them a story based around a girl named after one of them, Alice Liddell. The girls loved the story and asked him to write it down for them. He drafted the manuscript the next day, and following another similar boat trip a month later, elaborated the plot, then began working on the story in earnest.
Much of the settings may have been based on people and buildings in Oxford. Carroll researched animals included in the book, and asked the opinion of several other children. There is much that can be considered philosophical in the story, and Carroll’s position as a mathematician at Christ Church led him to include several mathematical musings embedded in the text.
He asked the famed Victorian illustrator John Tenniel to provide illustrations for the first publication, and these images that accompanied the first edition are now recognised as intrinsically part of the story.
The release of the novel gained little acclaim and negative reviews. It was with the release of the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, that the first story gained popularity.
The book is considered to be among the best examples of literary nonsense, and it is one of the most well-known children’s stories of all time.
Plot, Characters, Themes
The story involves a little girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world. There she meets strange, nonsense creatures, many anthropomorphic animals and playing cards, all of which seem to possess something of a backwards logic. The world itself, in fact, allows the impossible to occur quite naturally.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is better known as Lewis Carroll, an English author and photographer.
Notable auction sales and collecting tips
The first run of the first edition of 1865, by the Clarendon Press for Macmillan, London, was 2,000 copies. These were held back because the artist Tenniel did not agree with the quality of the printing. A new edition was released in December of that year by R. Clay, Son and Taylor for Macmillan, but with the title page reading 1866. The original copies were sold to New York publishing house Appleton, and sold on with Appleton’s name at the foot of the spine, and a cancellation of the Macmillan title page, replacing it with Appleton and 1866. Therefore it is contestable which of these constitutes the true first edition. They are however, all considered valuable.
Christie’s sold a first published (second English) edition (1866, R. Clay, Son and Taylor for Macmillan) for £15,600 in November 2005.
Christie’s sold a first edition, American re-issue of the original printing (1866, D. Appleton, New York) for $34,500 in June 1999 and $43,700 in December 1998.
Christie’s 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.
First editions are often sold together with the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass.
These are worth infinitely more if they retain their original bindings. It is not recommended to restore or rebind them.