Saturday, March 27

Tenniel's Drawing Of Alice Was Not Correct

When Lewis Carroll had John Tenniel draw Alice for him he had a model and girl in mind. Alice Liddell was a neighbor girl who Carroll had photographed before. He was quite taken with her and based his heroines name on her, starting his book with her name.

When he first saw the drawings that Tenniel had done he was mortified that it didn’t look at all like Liddell and he had drawn her body totally out of proportion. The artwork stayed in the book and became a part of history, even though Carroll proclaimed his dislike for it publicly.

Alice Pleasance Liddell was born May 4th 1852 in Westminster, London.



Alice Liddell, age 7, photographed by Charles Dodgson In 1860. Liddell dressed up as a beggar-maid.


A rare photo of Liddell taken by Carroll in 1855.


Alice Liddell as a young woman. She eventually got married to Reginald Hargreaves.


Alice Hargreaves Liddell lived to be 82 and died on November 16th 1934.

Tenniel's pictures of Alice are not pictures of Alice Liddell, who had dark hair cut short with straight bangs across her forehead. Carroll sent Tenniel a photograph of Mary Hilton Badcock, another child friend, recommending that he use her for a model, but whether Tenniel accepted this advice is a matter of dispute. That he did not is strongly suggested by these lines from a letter Carroll wrote some time after both Alice books had been published. The letter is quoted by Mrs. Lennon in her book on Carroll;

"Mr. Tenniel is the only artist who has drawn for me, who has resolutely refused to use a model, and declared he no more needed one than I should need a multiplication table to work a mathematical problem! I venture to think that he was mistaken and that for want of a model he drew several pictures of "Alice" entirely out of proportion-head decidedly too large and feet decidedly too small."


J. Tenniel's Alice

(The symbol at the lower right corner, which you see on all of Tenniel's drawings, is a monogram of his initials, J.T.


John Tenniel created the Alice we see in the book.

In "Alice On Stage," an article cited in the first note on the prefatory poem, Carroll gave the following description of his heroine's personality:

What art thou, dream-Alice, in thy foster-father's eye? How shall he picture thee? Loving, first, loving and gentle: loving as a dog (forgive the prosaic simile, but I know no earthly love so pure and perfect), and gentle as a fawn: then courteous-courteous to all high or low, grand or grotesque, King or Caterpillar, even as though she were herself a King's daughter and her clothing of wrought gold: then trustful, ready to accept the wildest impossibilities with all that utter trust that only dreamers know; and lastly, curious-wildly curious, and with the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood when all is new and fair, and when Sin and Sorrow are but names-empty words signifying nothing!

Hearing Carroll describe his creation, "Alice" in his own words is such a treat!

Although many people think Carroll a pedophile that couldn’t keep away from 7 year old girls there is no proof that he ever took advantage of Liddell or any other young girl. He was a photographer, writer and true artist that based his fiction on fact like many others before him and had a great interest in children and childhood.

Through the many years since his writings "Alice" has held the imaginations and fantasies of more people than even he could ever have imagined. Through fan art, movies, books and video games "Alice" has had many personalities and faces and will continue to be with us forever.

Lewis Carroll has taught me that everyone has their own Wonderland that resides in each and everyone of us in our imaginations.

BackandforthAliceKeep On Bloggin’!

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I hope you like the geekiness of my Wonderland. This blog has been around for a long time and used to be a MySpace until I moved it over to Blogger. I wrote about a plethora of subjects and still post here today. Wonderland has a special place in my heart it taught me so much about writing, websites, and people. I like comments so don't be shy about what's on your mind but I do moderate them so give me time to answer.