Top Banner Image


An English Illustrator's Wonderland Face


In his children's book illustrations, the English artist Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), who illustrated Wonderland in 1907, often used himself as a model and occasionally included a caricature of his face in his artwork. In Wonderland, the face of the Hatter (top, left) in the book's chapter titled "Mad Tea-Party" and the face of the Caterpillar (top, right) in the book's chapter titled "Advice from a Caterpillar" have a remarkable resemblance to Rackham's stylized face. A young boy with a vivid imagination who met Rackham remember him rather harshly as "wizened and wrinkled like a ripe walnut" -- reminiscent of a goblin in a fairytale, similar to the self-caricature (bottom, left) in Aesop's Fables (1912). What Rackham actually looked like is shown in a traditional self-portrait painted in 1934 (bottom, right) and described by a Rackham biographer as revealing a "watchful, tense, even tight-lipped man" known for illustrative humor, parody, and self-caricature. Sources: Derek Hudson, Arthur Rackham: His Life and Works (New York, 1960) and James Hamilton, Arthur Rackham: A Biography (New York, 1990).

Rare-book factlet: A 1907 edition of Rackham's Wonderland is a treasured piece of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia for the serious collector of late 19th-century and early 20th-century illustrated children's books and an undamaged copy signed by Rackham or a copy of a 1907 "deluxe limited edition" can fetch several thousand United States' dollars in a rare-book store or on an internet book auction. Source: AWT's rare-book files.

Hell-with-it factlet: Arthur Rackham only illustrated Wonderland and did not illustrate the sequel, Looking-Glass, perhaps, as a Rackham biographer has suggested, he was "shaken and disappointed by the adverse criticism" his Wonderland illustrations generated in the book's reviews by not-so-bright literary critics who did not foresee the lasting value of his Wonderland artwork. Source: Derek Hudson, Arthur Rackham: His Life and Works (New York, 1960).

Exhibition factlet: In January 1908 in a London art gallery Arthur Rackham exhibited 30 watercolor paintings prepared for the 1907 English edition of Wonderland -- however, only 13 full-color illustrations were included in the 1907 book. Source: Leicester Galleries (.com), 14 Sep 2013.

Wonderland Overshadows Maui Wowie

The Alice books provide a treasure-trove of colorful names for female cosmetics.

Read the full trivia item...

Long-Necked Alice as Treetop Scientist

 A title word in the first Alice book describes a research phase in the scientific world of treetop studies.

Read the full trivia item...

The Ubiquitous Non-Wonderland Cocktail

 Literary-minded bartenders and mixologists who create names for cocktails occasionally reply on the Alice books for inspiration.

Read the full trivia item...

The Physical Impairments of Alice's Creators

The author and the first illustrator of the Alice books had lifelong above-the-neck problems.

Read the full trivia item...

The Jabberwocky of Microbiology

A word from a Looking-Glass poem finds a home in microbiology.

Read the full trivia item...

What Alice Doesn't Know About Cooked Sheep

 Like the real-world Victorian girls her age, Alice is familiar with mutton, but she is too young to know about a curious French sexual usage of a sheep's respiratory organs.

Read the full trivia item...

An Illustrated Alice American First

 Using a limited selection of colors, a Southern female illustrator created memorable artwork for an early American edition of the Alice books.

Read the full trivia item...

Song and Dance with Dum and Dee

In Looking-Glass world, Alice encounters a popular Victorian nursery rhyme known to young girls.

Read the full trivia item...

Through the Looking-Glass Wormhole

 In explaining scientific theories, scientists, rightly or wrongly, occasionally rely on the Alice books for lightweight mental comparisons and, hopefully, understandable analogies.

Read the full trivia item...

More trivia...

HomeAbout UsTerms & ConditionsPrivacy PolicyContact Us