Alice’s Alice

Modern Books and Manuscripts 2014-01-21

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

This recently-cataloged volume from the Santo Domingo Collection appears to be an unexceptional 1932 printing of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: the book’s illustrated covers have faded, and its acidic paper stock has gone from white to tan. Alice’s encounter with the hookah-smoking caterpillar would justify this title’s inclusion in Santo Domingo’s collection, but what makes it a collector’s item is on the illustrated front endpaper: the autograph of Alice Hargreaves (née Alice Pleasance Liddell), for whom the story of the fictional Alice was originally written.

Carroll – a pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – befriended the Liddell family in 1856, when Alice was four years old, and began composing for her entertainment the story that would become Alice in Wonderland in 1862. Hargreaves would have been near the end of her life when she acquired this volume: she lived until 1934.

Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland. London: Readers Library Pub. Co., [1932?] EC85.D6645.865a.1932.

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.