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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Original Alice

Between 1967 and 1969 my dad was employed by the Rank Xerox Corporation. I was too young to be told how he acquired this book - I can only assume employees were given an opportunity to purchase it.  What I can remember is how excited my dad was when he brought it home and how thrilled he was to give it to me.  I was eight years old at the time.  These are the memories I cherish today as neither of my parents are still alive.

The book is a facsimile* of 'Alice's Adventures under Ground', the forerunner of Alice in Wonderland - a manuscript handwritten and illustrated by the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and given as a Christmas gift to 'Alice' (Alice Liddell) 'in memory of a summer day'.

It consists of page after page of beautiful, neat, uniform and perfectly legible script (an art we have all but lost today).  Some of the illustrations are incorporated into the story .....

....... some are like plates that take up a whole page.

My favourite page is the one shown above with writing that curls across it like the tail of a mouse!

On the last page there is a photograph of the real Alice after this lovely reflection on the events of the story by the sister of the fictional Alice.

Alice Liddell kept the manuscript until 1928 when she had it put up for auction at Sotheby's.  It was bought by the renowned bookseller A.S.W. Rosenbach.  He sold it to a wealthy American collector whose widow put it up for auction again in 1946.

A group of Americans decided to buy the manuscript and present it to the British Museum (who had failed in a bid at the Sotheby auction).  It appears as though the gift ('restoring an important cultural treasure to its native home') was largely an expression of thanks towards the British people in recognition of their efforts in holding Hitler at bay during the period before America entered the war.

A list was compiled of donors who contributed $100 or more but it was agreed at the start not to make the names public.  Only three contributors are known - Luther H Evans, Librarian of Congress and later Director of International and Legal Collections at Columbia University who initiated the idea; Lessing Rosenwald, an eminent donor to the Library of Congress who spearheaded the fundraising effort and Dr Rosenbach who was authorised to make the bid. The manuscript was bought for $50 000 and in 1948 Luther Evans travelled to London to present it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, chairman of the Museum trustees.     

(Copyright by University Microfilms, Inc, 1964 A Subsidiary of Xerox Corporation) 

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

I have included the art of Jesus Blasco in a number of previous blog entries.  His illustrations of Alice in Wonderland are further examples of his brilliant and wonderfully detailed work.  They appeared in Once Upon a Time magazine between October and December 1970.

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

Jesus Blasco - Alice in Wonderland

And finally a classic image of Lewis Carroll spinning his tales for Alice and her sisters on the banks of the river near Oxford.  Unfortunately I don't know the name of the artist who produced this lovely painting.


CraveCute said...

Sharon, I am just thrilled to see this. What an amazing story! I never knew the real story and history behind Alice in Wonderland. I can only imagine how you must cherish this precious childhood memory! Thank you so much for sharing this lovely story. The photos are all quite extraordinary!

Barbara Fisher March House Books said...

I really enjoy your blog and that's why I've nominated you for the Lovely Blog Award. Please check out my blog for details. Congratulations!
Thank you for the interesting Alice post and the lovely illustrations.

DM said...

I love this! How marvelous. These are the precious memories we never forget. I really like the picture of Lewis Carroll telling a story.

Kylie said...

I think page 28 is just gorgeous too. What a special book Sharon, not just because of all the interesting historical stuff you've mentioned but also because your Dad gave it to you.

I have my Grandmother's copy of Alice, it is well over 100 years old, tattered and falling to bits but I'll always treasure it.

I love the Blasco illustrations too btw x

GardenofDaisies said...

He certainly knew how to spin a tale. The manuscript version that you have is wonderful. So amazing to see how the author wrote and illustrated this, with words swirling around the page.

Ian T. said...

I love those Jesus Blasco "Alice" illustrations, having read the adaptation in "Once Upon a Time" magazine as a child. The originals of a cover illustration and my favourite pages (the Caucus Race) turned up on eBay a few years ago and I only just missed out - it really broke my heart!

Ian T. said...

Sharon, thanks for getting back. I did manage to purchase a Ron Embleton original, and I love it!

Something else that may interest you - the complete Jesus Blasco "Alice in Wonderland," along with "Gulliver's Travels" and some short pieces, was published in English as:

Wonderland Tales: a Story-and-Picture Book
ISBN 0 85988 001 X


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