London: William Heinemann, 1907. Item #04587
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham
[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. With a Proem by Austin Dobson. London: William Heinemann, [n.d., 1907].
First English Edition DeLuxe. Limited to 1,130 numbered copies (this copy being # 853).
Large quarto (11 1/16 x 9 inches; 281 x 229 mm.). xii, 161, , 1, blank] pp. Thirteen tipped-in full-page color plates mounted on heavy brown paper, with lettered tissue-guards. Fourteen black and white drawings.
Publisher's white buckram over boards, front cover and spine pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt, pictorial end papers, top edge gilt, others uncut. Minimal dust soiling to spine, gilt on word "Lewis" a little rubbed, some light offsetting from paste-downs to free end-papers as usual, small neat ink inscription dated Christmas 1907 on front flyleaf. An excellent copy of one of Arthur Rackham's best loved titles.
"Rackham's next undertaking after Peter Pan was the most controversial of his whole career. This was nothing less than a fresh illustration of Alice in Wonderland, a work so completely identified with the drawings by John Tenniel that it seemed to many critics almost blasphemous for anyone to attempt to prepare alternatives. As soon as it became clear, however, that a spate of new illustrated editions was being planned to follow the expiry of the original copyright (in fact, at least seven appeared in England in the first possible year, 1907), it was surely not to be regretted that an artist of Rackham's quality had taken up the challenge. Even The Times, in the course of an unfavourable review, recognized that Rackham 'feels his privilege and his responsibilities', but this critic, obsessed by Tenniel, found Rackham's humour 'forced and derivative' and discovered 'few signs of true imaginative instinct' in his work. A stranger wrote at once to sympathize: 'I felt I must express my indignation at the injustice of the "Times" criticism. However, I am certain that Time is on your side, and that nothing but prejudice prevents your superiority being recognised now. Your delightful Alice is alive and makes by contrast Tenniel's Alice look a stiff wooden puppet. This went much further than Rackham would have done, for he had no wish to set himself up against Tenniel. He would have been well content with the verdict of the Daily Telegraph, that it would be fortunate for Lewis Carroll's memory if his masterpiece encountered 'no less inspired interpreters than Mr Arthur Rackham'..." (Derek Hudson, Arthur Rackham. His Life and Work. pp 70 and 72.)
"The Alice... is not the heroine of Sir John Tenniel's imagination; she is older and more sophisticated; but at the same time she has a tender, flickering light of imagination in her eyes, which lifts her out of the domain of the merely pretty and childish... Mr. Rackham's inexhaustible imagination, working over and embroidering the ground-work of Tenniel's types, has added a really wonderful wealth of uncanny, dreamlike mystery to the story...[and] extraordinary feeling into the drawing of the hands" (Daily Telegraph).
Latimore & Haskell, p. 29. Riall, p.77.