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  • Lewis Carroll, Art DirectorRecovering the Design and Production Rationales for Victorian Editions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll created not only the Alice texts, but the Alice books.1 He was both author and art director. Carroll art directed the first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ([1865] 1866), and he went on to segment the Victorian children's literature market by strategically repackaging the story in a further three distinct editions.

Design and production values include the cover design, typography, paper, binding and so on that constitute the look and feel of the book. These values are some—if not the only—unique selling points of books that are published in multiple editions.2 Alice is a 154-year-old material girl; she is dressed in countless guises, from interactive board books for toddlers to paperback graphic novels for teens to hardback novels for adults. Abridgements and adaptations have contributed to Alice's diverse audience, but the most powerful changes are due to the title's material re-representations, or art directions. Alice has evolved from Macmillan's golden Victorian blocked on cloth to Harper's inky goth girl printed on satin paper.3 Carroll conceived the title as a fairy tale, but some latter-day publications are better described as scary tales. This transformation is due, in part, to illustrations. Alice is possibly "the most widely illustrated novel in existence".4 The extraordinary variety of Alice illustrations is surpassed only by the breadth of editions in which they are published; John Tenniel's illustrations from the first publication, for example, have been republished in hundreds of editions, from mass-market paperbacks to collectible hardbacks. Accordingly, Alice is today located in such diverse publishing retail categories as "Children's Fairy & Folk Tales," "Science Fiction & Fantasy" and "Classic Literature."5 Carroll was the first to segment and sell Alice, trading on unique art directions. How did the early Alices—those published under Carroll's direction—differentiate themselves from each other? [End Page 196]

This article recovers the rationales for the design and production choices that Carroll made, as art director, for the single-volume English-language Alice editions that Macmillan published in London between 1865 (year of first publication) and 1897 (year prior to Carroll's death in January 1898):

  • • the red-cloth Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (AAIW) ([1865] 1866) (Figures 1a, 1b and 1c);

  • Alice's Adventures Under Ground (AAUG) (1886) (Figures 2a and 2b);

  • • the People's Edition of AAIW (1887) (Figures 3a and 3b) and the People's Edition omnibus that combines AAIW with its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, in one volume (1888);

  • The Nursery "Alice" (1890) (Figures 4a and 4b).

The story remains essentially unchanged across these four editions: the first and third editions have the same body text6; the second edition is a facsimile of a draft of the AAIW manuscript; the fourth edition is a retelling of the text of the first and third editions. The similarity of these books' editorial content throws into relief their varied design and production values. The sequel to AAIW, Through the Looking-Glass (TTLG), is only peripherally included in this article—when discussing its publication in an omnibus volume with AAIW. Although TTLG is often conflated with AAIW in scholarship and popular imagination, and Carroll art directed them both, each title tells a unique story and has its own publishing history. It is AAIW that started Carroll's "career" as an art director, and it is AAIW that Carroll repackaged in many editions for many audiences. This article interrogates the ways in which Carroll's art direction contributed to his creative vision and strategic publication of a single title: Alice.

"Art director" is an anachronistic title for a Victorian—it came into use in the early 1900s and continues to be used today7—but it frames a critical understanding of the lead that Carroll took in the visual and material realizations of his texts. There is a wealth of published research on Carroll and his books, but the overwhelming majority focuses on his biography and/or Alice's text.8 This article expands the horizons of Carroll's agency and highlights the contribution of art direction to the title's successes. Professionalizing and modernizing Carroll as an art director recognizes that his authorship extended beyond the text to the book. It also brings unprecedented attention to the look and feel of Alice, analyzing art direction as a means of targeting new markets. This article is not the first work to suggest that Carroll art directed, but it is the first publication to explore the characterization [End Page 197]

Figures 1a, 1b, and 1c. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865 (dated 1866). First authorized edition. Published by Macmillan, London. Full-bound in red cloth with gold blocking. All edges gilt. 204 pp. octavo. Printed 1/1 in black ink. 42 integrated illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 9. Photos by author.
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Figures 1a, 1b, and 1c.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865 (dated 1866). First authorized edition. Published by Macmillan, London. Full-bound in red cloth with gold blocking. All edges gilt. 204 pp. octavo. Printed 1/1 in black ink. 42 integrated illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 9. Photos by author.

[End Page 198]

Figures 2a and 2b. Alice's Adventures Under Ground, 1886. Published by Macmillan, London and New York. Full-bound in red cloth with gold blocking. All edges gilt. 116 pp. octavo. Printed 1/1 in black ink. 37 integrated illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 1. Photos by author.
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Figures 2a and 2b.

Alice's Adventures Under Ground, 1886. Published by Macmillan, London and New York. Full-bound in red cloth with gold blocking. All edges gilt. 116 pp. octavo. Printed 1/1 in black ink. 37 integrated illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 1. Photos by author.

Figures 3a and 3b. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, People's Edition, 1887. Published by Macmillan, London and New York. Full-bound in green cloth with black and red pictorial binding design. 196 pp. octavo. Printed 1/1 in black ink. 42 integrated illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 25. Photos by author.
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Figures 3a and 3b.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, People's Edition, 1887. Published by Macmillan, London and New York. Full-bound in green cloth with black and red pictorial binding design. 196 pp. octavo. Printed 1/1 in black ink. 42 integrated illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 25. Photos by author.

[End Page 199]

Figures 4a and 4b. The Nursery "Alice", 1890. Published by Macmillan, London. Bound in white paper boards printed in color and a plain white cloth spine. 76 pp. quarto. Printed 7/1 and 1/1 in brown ink. 20 integrated color illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 103. Photos by author.
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Figures 4a and 4b.

The Nursery "Alice", 1890. Published by Macmillan, London. Bound in white paper boards printed in color and a plain white cloth spine. 76 pp. quarto. Printed 7/1 and 1/1 in brown ink. 20 integrated color illustrations. This copy University of British Columbia, 103. Photos by author.

of art director in depth.9 Preeminent Carrollians have gestured to this idea before: biographer Morton N. Cohen, with his co-editor Anita Gandolfo, lists "artist-designer" as one of numerous late twentieth-century job titles that Carroll effectively performed in the mid- to late nineteenth century; collector Mark Burstein calls Carroll's collaboration with illustrator John Tenniel "art direction."10 Each of these is an isolated mention—the former is one entry in a list of publishing industry roles and the latter is a phrase that focuses on illustration—in the preliminary pages of books. In book-length studies of Alice Carroll's art direction is an accepted but unarticulated fact; it lingers in the background of discussions on Carroll's supervision of illustrations and reinventions of the story.11 Children's literature professor Jan Susina most directly addresses Carroll's management of design and production values. He does so in the course of his recovery of Carroll as "a skillful entrepreneur who carefully cultivated and controlled his Alice industry."12 The present characterization of Carroll as an art director complements Susina's recovery, working towards a comprehensive understanding of Carroll's commercial manipulation of editorial content. This article is, unlike most Carrollian studies, critically informed by publishing industry practice.


What is art direction? The practice is common across media industries, including advertising, film, and publishing, but its articulations are rare and slippery: attempts include the colorful titles "What the F*#@ is an Art-Director?" and Art Direction Explained, at Last!13 The prolific Steven Heller, an art director and a co-chair of a graduate design program, is one of few [End Page 200] practitioners who write about the wider profession. He is therefore well informed to offer this deceptively simple definition: "Art directors determine the look of things …."14 "Things" can include advertisements, films, and, as in Carroll's case, books. Job descriptions are usually of the compare-and-contrast nature: art directors' management of people, tools and contents likens them to talent brokers, orchestra leaders and chefs15; art directors, who are responsible for evoking the "right" emotion, are not graphic designers, who are responsible for the technical execution of that emotion.16 Carroll broadly oversaw—but did not practice—the hands-on work of the print shop, the scope of which included work such as typesetting, page layout, illustration sizing and so on that is today called graphic design. Graphic designers are managed by art directors. Art directors are concerned with the big, strategic picture: "Managing the page and all its components (which includes directing the art); setting the aesthetic standard of the publication; and imbuing it with a unique identity that relies on collaboration yet is inextricably part of [the art director's] own visual personality."17 Art directors commission and supervise a pool of talent that can include illustrators, photographers, designers, printers, and binders in order to achieve their strategic vision (ideally) on time and within budget. Carroll's work towards the visual and material realization of his books was consistent with the current practice of art direction. As a Victorian editorial art director,18 Carroll made book design and production choices that complemented and enhanced the text, targeted audiences, exploited manufacturing technology, and were cautious financial investments intended to yield high quality not high profit. His art direction contributed to Alice's immediate and enduring critical and commercial successes.


Carroll spent half his life working on Alice. Between its first publication in 1865, when he was 33 years old, and his death in early 1898 at the age of nearly 66, Carroll worked on no fewer than four unique English-language (re)packagings of Alice. (He also art directed the sequel and foreign-language editions, as well as his later, non-Alice titles.) How did he come to publish AAIW in the first place? Carroll studied and taught mathematics at Christ Church, the Oxford college where he took holy orders and met young Alice Liddell, the second daughter of the Dean of Christ Church.19 On a legendary golden afternoon Carroll and a friend took Alice and her two of her sisters on a boat ride. Many years later Carroll recalled that "The germ of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was an extempore story, told in a boat [on July 4, 1862] to the 3 children of Dean Liddell: it was [End Page 201] afterwards, at the request of Miss Alice Liddell, written out for her, in MS print, with pen-and-ink pictures (such pictures!) of my own devising: without the least idea, at the time, that it would ever be published. But friends [the family of children's author George MacDonald] urged me to print it, so it was re-written, and enlarged, and published."20 Here Carroll glossed over the transformation of manuscript to book, calling out only the actions of rewriting and enlarging the body text. He in fact thought out, labored over, and invested in his books' materialities.

The illustrated gift manuscript described above is a 92-page "fairy-tale," as Carroll called it, entitled Alice's Adventures Under Ground21 (AAUG).22 Carroll completed the hand-written text by mid-February 1863 and the hand-drawn illustrations in September 1864.2324 When he gave the manuscript to Alice in November 1864, the publication of AAIW was already underway.25 Carroll (as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) had published numerous mathematical works, but he was not yet a published children's author. The printer of Carroll's previous scholarly publications, Thomas Combe of Oxford's Clarendon Press, introduced him to publisher Alexander Macmillan of the house of Macmillan, London in October 1863.26 AAIW—Carroll's first book and Macmillan's fifteenth or sixteenth children's book27—was published in November 1865.28

Carroll personally accepted the risks, responsibilities, and rewards that are today associated with a commercial publisher. Carroll financed the publication of his books, and Macmillan marketed and distributed them for a commission of ten per cent of gross sales.29 Carroll's activities were editorial, clerical, strategic, and technical in nature—they ran the gamut of the publishing process.30 He learned on the job from Macmillan and his suppliers, "prov[ing] so apt a pupil that he was able, in short order, to deal with the technicalities like a thoroughly trained professional", as Cohen put it.31 Carroll's 35-year correspondence with Macmillan is filled with solicitations of advice, instructions, and sketches regarding the design and production of Alice editions.32 Charles Morgan, a historian of the house of Macmillan says, "There was never an author more elaborately careful than Lewis Carroll for the details of production …". Carroll was "obsessed" with mistakes: "he felt them as an old lady feels draughts. Uneven inking, cropped margins, irregular levels of opposite pages—he missed nothing".33 This example of Macmillan's house history effectively celebrates Carroll as an author but disparages him as an art director. His fastidious control over design and production values was always in service of publishing high-quality books. Alice can be seen as an unintentionally commercially successful example of art for [End Page 202] art's sake. Carroll repeatedly emphasized that, "whatever be the commercial consequences, … all copies that are sold shall be artistically first-rate".34 Carroll's aesthetic concerns apparently ran contrary to business concerns, but it was precisely his pursuit of quality that drove spectacular sales. Carroll and Macmillan's business arrangement proved mutually satisfying.

The Carroll–Macmillan publishing agreement for AAIW set a precedent for their future publications: "The author determined the size of the book, the quality of the paper, the size and style of the type. He selected the binding; engaged the printer, the engraver, the illustrator …".35 These are some responsibilities of an art director. Yet it is important to emphasize that Carroll proactively took the lead in the design and production of his books. Even in similar, rare Victorian commission-based publishing agreements36 it was not the norm for authors to be so thoroughly involved. It was (and is) not the norm for authors to be art directors.37 Textual scholar Allan C. Dooley's Author and Printer in Victorian England examines how the author's relationship to printing technology "shapes texts"38; a complementary study might examine how the author's relationship to printing technology shapes publications. Victorians like Charles Dickens and Christina Rossetti took some interest in the materiality of their publications, but to call them art directors would be an overstatement.39 Carroll was exceptional: he was equally invested in text, illustration, and materiality. Discussions of Carroll's dual interest in illustration and text are often supported with the opening sentence of AAIW: "'… and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversations?'"40 Carroll deftly balanced both in his books, often rearranging or rewriting body text and/or requesting that illustrations be redrawn in order to achieve his ideal page layout.41 An effective example is two rectos from the first edition of AAIW, where turning the page makes the Cheshire Cat disappear from the book just as he does from the text (Figure 1c). Carroll planned for visual and verbal content to reinforce each other. The story of Alice should not be divorced from its packaging.

What did Carroll, an Oxford don and reverend, know about art directing children's books? He was an unlikely author of children's texts, and even established Victorian authors were less involved in the production of their books. As Heller says, "Art direction is … a practice that does not demand expertise or talent in any one particular discipline, but rather an understanding (or instinct) that enables one to identify and 'direct' others with those skill sets."42 Indeed Carroll did not have any particular expertise or talent, but he did have a keen and long-lasting interest in visual arts. As [End Page 203] Heller says, "Visual thinking is key. …an art director must be fluent in the languages of illustration, photography, typography, and even decoration."43 Carroll did frequent galleries and museums44 and he was familiar with critics and artists, including John Ruskin and a number of Pre-Raphaelites.45 His bookcase held volumes on color theory, drawing, engraving, and perspective.46 His high regard for and participation in the arts is consistent with Steven Heller and Véronique Vienne's observation that, "the best art directors are culturally literate … [with] a sense of 'what's out there'. …A great art director is a man about town."47 Carroll yearned to join what Cohen called "the rarefied world of art".48 Throughout his adolescence Carroll illustrated magazines for his family49; as an adult he included sketches in some of the tens of thousands of letters he wrote.50 He also illustrated the AAUG gift manuscript, which shows a Pre-Raphaelite influence in its depiction of Alice.51 Yet Carroll recognized that his talent was limited. Carroll took up photography, which appealed to his love of gadgetry, as an alternative means of becoming an "Artist"52; he has been recognized as "the finest photographer of children of the age".53 Photography developed Carroll's eye for composition, proportion, and balance,54 which he turned to his books.

How did Carroll think a children's book should look and feel? How did he come to this understanding? A critical frame of reference would have been his own bookcase.55 Collector Charlie Lovett's Lewis Carroll Among his Books is the most complete list of books that Carroll is known to have owned and/or read.56 Unsurprisingly, Carroll obtained books by his publisher, Macmillan,57 and his collaborators, including illustrators (e.g. E. Gertrude Thomson58), engravers (e.g. the Dalziel brothers59), and engraver-printers (e.g. Edmund Evans60). More telling are the contemporaneous children's books that he acquired. Combing Lovett's catalogue for references to them enables a partial reconstruction of Carroll's view of Alice's competition and a recovery of some (possible) creative and strategic influences on his art direction. These can be grouped in surveys of creators, genres, and titles. Carroll had books by well-known talents in the field of children's literature, including authors (e.g. Frances Hodgson Burnett and Mrs. Molesworth61), illustrators (e.g. Walter Crane and Arthur Hughes62) and author-illustrators (e.g. Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway63). His interests spanned children's literature, including subgenres that Alice works both within (e.g. fairy tales64 and poetry65) and without (e.g. moral tales66). Carroll also held multiple editions of single children's titles that predated AAIW (e.g. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Charles Kingsley's The [End Page 204] Water-Babies67). Carroll owned and/or read editions of both children's and adult literature that mirrored his AAIW repackaging strategies: facsimiles like AAUG68, cheap editions like the People's Editions69, omnibus editions like the combined AAIW and TTLG People's Edition70, and nursery adaptations like The Nursery "Alice"71. Carroll was not the first to repackage text, but he was arguably the best.

AAIW ([1865] 1866) was published in an emerging children's market. As mentioned, it was the fifteenth or sixteenth title in Macmillan's growing children's list. The publication dates of Carroll's library holdings suggest increased personal interest and/or significant market growth in the 20-plus years that intervened between his first book and AAUG (1886), the People's Editions (1887 and 1888), and The Nursery "Alice" (1890). Although the later Alice books were published in rapid succession, they had more opportunity to be influenced by contemporary children's titles. Carroll may have acquired competing books before, during, or after he conceived and/or published his Alice books, and apart from specific references in Carroll's diaries and letters72 it is not possible to know how specific books influenced Carroll's vision for and execution of his books. However, the books cited above are known to have been in his frame of reference. He saw them. He held them. They informed his understanding of the Victorian children's book market and, directly or indirectly, significantly or subtly, they informed the look and feel of his publications.

The following section traces each of the four Carroll-directed editions chronologically. This is not as clear cut of an approach as it might seem. It could be organized by the date on which Carroll first articulated his concept for an edition, began writing the text of an edition, or approved final proofs or specimens. In any case, a chronological approach is complicated by the fact that Carroll worked on Alice editions in parallel. For example, he conceived the AAUG manuscript facsimile edition after he conceived the People's Editions, but he published AAUG before he published the People's Editions. And Carroll wrote and illustrated portions—not the entirety—of the facsimile edition before he completed the text of AAIW, but he published AAIW two decades before AAUG. This section progresses from one edition to the next in order of publication date, which is arguably the most stable of dates (and enables comparisons to contemporary titles, like the aforementioned books owned or read by Carroll). It uses the physical evidence of each edition to trace its development from creative concept to final publication(s), and then reflects on its creative success (as qualified by Carroll and critics) and commercial success (as quantified by the market). [End Page 205] The red-cloth Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Figures 1a, 1b, and 1c) is the best documented and most researched of all the Carroll-directed editions. This is in spite of (or perhaps because of) its complicated publishing history. The crux of the complications is the illustrations. Carroll intended to reproduce the illustrations in his gift manuscript for publication—he went so far as to prepare them on boxwood for engraving—but art critic Ruskin, Pre-Raphaelite Thomas Woolner, and printer Combe unanimously told him that they were unfit for publication.73 In what would prove a savvy commercial decision, Carroll commissioned Punch cartoonist John Tenniel, "one of the most popular artists in England," to illustrate AAIW.74 Their relationship was collaborative. Carroll intended to show Tenniel his gift manuscript "not that [Tenniel] should at all follow my pictures, but simply to give him an idea of the sort of thing I want".75 Whether Tenniel saw the manuscript, and, if so, whether it influenced his illustrations, has been debated, but the current general consensus is that he did see it. Edward Wakeling, editor of Carroll's diaries, ventures that more than 70 per cent of Tenniel's illustrations are based on those of Carroll.76 Michael Hancher, author of the only book dedicated to Tenniel's Alice illustrations, says that "[Tenniel] departs selectively from Carroll's prototype, usually in the interest of greater realism".77 However, Carroll "probably chose which narrative moments Tenniel was to illustrate, so as to control, himself, the novelties of emphasis that the illustrations inevitably bring about".78 This analysis tallies with the scope of what Burstein later describes as Carroll's art direction. But his art direction went beyond his collaboration with Tenniel.

Carroll hired brothers George and Edward Dalziel—Victorian England's "most distinguished firm of engravers"—to do facsimile engravings of Tenniel's illustrations.79 Carroll developed a strong relationship with the Dalziels; he endeavored to understand engraving methods and inserted himself in the artist–engraver proofing approval process.80 (He also inserted himself in the artist–printer proofing approval process.81) Carroll greatly respected the Dalziels, yet he went against their advice to print the illustrations directly from the wood blocks.82 Printing straight from the blocks would have been cheaper in the short term and shown finer detail in print. The Dalziels's advice would have been sound assuming that AAIW would not be reprinted and repackaged numerous times. But it was. And Carroll must have anticipated it. He ordered that the book be printed from electrotypes in order to preserve the engravings. Every so often, when a reprint's quality fell below his standards, Carroll had new plates made from the blocks.83 His short-term investments of time and capital paid off with long-term cost savings and quality control. [End Page 206]

Carroll's suppression of the first printing (by Clarendon) and the successful reprinting (by Richard Clay of London) has been described many times.84 The gist of it is that Tenniel, in his own words, "protested so strongly against the disgraceful printing, that [Carroll] cancelled the edition [i.e. impression]".85 Tenniel's concerns stemmed from "careless press work that diminished the contrast between the light and dark areas of a picture".86 Recent scholarship on the first printing rightly attributes the diminished contrast to, at least in part, low-quality paper87 and finds typographic flaws (e.g. a mix of normal and condensed characters, numerous widows and orphans and inconsistent word-spacing).88 Nevertheless, Carroll's untrained eye focused on Tenniel's objections to the inking. Here we can refer again to Heller, who points out that, "Not everyone can be an art director. … It means having an ego but taking pleasure in the ego of others. … It means accepting the limits of one's own competence and seeking out the talents of others to bolster it."89 Carroll was a novice determined to publish books of the highest quality possible. He recognized that Tenniel was an accomplished artist who wanted to preserve the integrity of his work and his reputation, so Carroll suppressed the Clarendon impression based on Tenniel's objections only. At Macmillan's suggestion, Carroll agreed to offload the rejected Clarendon sheets on the American market—for which he cared nothing—in order to recuperate some of his print costs; the first American edition of AAIW was thus born of an English reject.90

Carroll reprinted the book with Clay, a commercial printer who "was considered by contemporaries to be the finest maker of electrotypes and printer of wood engravings".91 Carroll requested that Clay print the illustrations from the existing electrotypes and reset the text (based on the Clarendon impression).92 Clay tidied the typesetting—89 differences have been found between the Clarendon and Clay printings93—and delivered a more finely printed run. Carroll diarized a cost sheet that totals his financial investment in the edition at £600, including illustrations, wood blocks, printing (£240 at Clay), binding and advertising, but excluding £135 for the suppressed Clarendon printing.94 Six hundred pounds—let alone £735—was more than the annual salary of an Oxford don.95 Carroll's significant outlay proves his dedication to the project. An important part of art direction is "establishing one's authority," and, "The money you spend, not the money you make, is a measure of your authority."96 This is consistent with Carroll's deliberate spending and avowed indifference to commercial success. With his investment came a sense of entitlement; he never shied away from demanding "the highest standard of technical and aesthetic production".97 Despite his initial doubts about financing the reprint, he considered Clay's [End Page 207] impression "very far superior to the old [rejected impression by Clarendon], and in fact a perfect piece of artistic printing".98

Carroll's vision evolved over the course of publication. He wanted to publish in quarto with a two-column layout, but he took Macmillan's advice to publish in octavo.99 The octavo's single-column layout is in keeping with earlier Macmillan children's books. As Hancher notes, it "maximizes the relevance of the pictures to the text by placing them as close as possible to the passages they illustrate … Carroll's own illustrations in the gift manuscript were closely correlated to the text, and he made sure that the Tenniel illustrations were placed with the same care".100 Recall that Carroll planned for the Cheshire Cat to fade with the flip of a page. He likewise planned the subject, size, page, and placement of every illustration.101 The text and illustrations are so well integrated that the text sometimes reads like captions. The plan's columns specify "number" (i.e. page number), "height," "width," and "subject." Carroll also indicates whether illustrations should be centered, let in at the side of the text block, or hug the text in an L shape.

And, interestingly, this plan shows that Carroll considered the mouse's tale to be an illustration even though it is typeset. The mouse's tale shaped as a mouse's tail (Figure 1b) is a visual pun that exemplifies Carroll's art direction: his typographic treatment heightens the meaning of the editorial content. The tail as Carroll drew it in the gift manuscript (and later published in a facsimile edition) curves half-a-dozen times, becoming narrower with each bend, the line length varies from two characters to two dozen and the text gradually rotates upside down. Carroll also uses underlining, punctuation, and capitalization to draw the eye down along the tail. An early printed proof of the tail lays it out in a justified column placed centrally on the page.102 Its decreasing line length and font gives the tail a tidy sense of closure as it fades to the word "death," but the rigid structure otherwise retains little of the character in Carroll's manuscript. Carroll cut and pasted the proof's column of text to create a curved tail.103 His mock-up prefigures the tail's first printing plate (for the recalled edition) and later the first authorized publication. This early evolution of the tail—from manuscript, to proof, to revise, to first print—is a neat example of Carroll's art direction from concept to publication.

Like any good art director, Carroll observed market trends. The octavo format that AAIW adopted was that of Kingsley's The Water-Babies, a successful children's book that Macmillan had recently published and Carroll owned.104 The Water-Babies uniquely influenced the look and feel of AAIW. While similarities can retrospectively be drawn between Alice and aforementioned books that Carroll is known to have owned and/or read, The [End Page 208] Water-Babies was singularly discussed by Carroll and Macmillan. It was "a production model"105 that influenced AAIW's format, binding design, and cloth. Carroll wrote, in his earliest surviving letter to Macmillan, that "bright red will be best—not best, perhaps, artistically, but the most attractive to childish eyes. Can this colour be managed in the same smooth, bright cloth that you have in green [on The Water-Babies]?"106 Carroll took his lead from the market: for color, he prioritized the audience's aesthetics over his personal preference; for cloth, he followed the precedent set by a competing title. Macmillan told Carroll to obtain a copy of the edited collection The Children's Garland from the Best Poets because it has "a red cloth such as I fancy you want".107 AAIW was bound in red cloth by Burn of London, "the finest binder in England".108 These three standalone titles—The Children's Garland from the Best Poets (1863), The Water-Babies (1864), and AAIW ([1865] 1866)—are octavos full-bound in a similar quality cloth with gold ruling blocked around the boards and horizontally centered medallion illustrations blocked in gold. Taken together, they look like examples of a series design, but their similarities are better described as a generic design that reflects the emerging Victorian children's market.

AAIW was published shortly before Christmas 1865. Christmas sales began as a Victorian trend, and many of Carroll's books would enjoy seasonal sales spikes. AAIW was seen as a gift book by both sides of the trade: Macmillan and booksellers, as well as consumers and readers. Carroll did not deliberately position the first print run of AAIW as a Christmas book. He later included Christmas (and Easter) greetings in many copies of his books, but he was loath to ever rush the publication of any book just to garner holiday sales. Whether or not Carroll realized it, the book's octavo format and red-and-gold case was in keeping with the generic Christmas book aesthetic that was popularized by Dickens's books.109 AAIW targeted an affluent audience with a price point of 6 shillings.110 Its marketability had much to do with the quantity and quality of illustrations. Prepublication advertisements say it has "numerous" illustrations; Carroll protested because he understood "numerous" to mean about 20. He thought it a higher mark of quality to specify that there are 42 illustrations.111 The title page accordingly reads "With forty-two illustrations by John Tenniel". Tenniel's name was a major selling point. As Hancher notes, early reviews indicate that "it was not Carroll's text but the set of illustrations by John Tenniel that made the book worth noticing".112 Carroll was wise to accept criticism of his illustrations and commission the commercially popular Tenniel.

AAIW was an immediate success: 500 copies sold in three weeks.113 Macmillan reprinted the book within a year, prompting Carroll to estimate that [End Page 209] he would break even and/or turn a profit within two years of publication.114 In 1890, after some tens of thousands of copies were published, Carroll complained to Macmillan about the printing of the illustrations: "I've thought a good deal about the Quality of the recent impressions … and am not at all comfortable about them".115 In 1893 Carroll complained again: "the electrotypes are either beginning to wear out, or else have been badly 'made-up'".116 By this time annual sales were beginning to average 495 copies.117 In 1897, in order to control quality and keep the edition in print, Carroll published a "new issue" of the red-cloth edition.118 It preserved the 1866 de-sign but was recast and printed with new electrotypes on better paper than had been used recently.119 Avoiding a repeat of the printing fiasco of 1865, Carroll secured Tenniel's approval of a printer's proof before completing the run.120 The best estimates of the total number of red-cloth AAIWs published before Carroll's death in 1898 are 86,000 or 87,000 copies.121

The first red-cloth edition acted as a guide by which Carroll art directed his later books: Carroll would say his next book should have a similar quality of cloth to the red-cloth AAIW, fewer illustrations than the red-cloth AAIW, and so on.122 Adapted AAIW designs, such as specially-bound presentation copies and "Hospital" copies, are not included in the above estimates. Carroll bound a presentation copy (of the recalled printing) for Alice Liddell in vellum to commemorate their special relationship.123 He also commissioned an adapted design to donate to hospitals in 1877. It had cheaper cloth, blind blocking, sprinkled edges, and "Presented for the use of Sick Children" set in gothic type on the title page and front board. Ever mindful of his audience's reading experience, Carroll stressed the importance of a stronger binding that "shall be able to stand an exceptional amount of knocking about without coming to pieces" while being circulated among the hospitalized children.124 There also exists at least one copy of another adapted design: an 1882 printing of the red-cloth edition bound in green cloth.125 Green may have been a deliberate choice, perhaps a presentation copy or a trial of the color green (which was used for a later edition), or an accident, maybe a binder's scrap. In any case, these adapted designs make for a colorful publication history.


Alice's Adventures Under Ground (Figures 2a and 2b) is a facsimile of the handwritten, hand-drawn manuscript that Carroll gave to Alice and expanded into AAIW. AAUG is the only Alice for which Carroll himself generated all editorial content, both textual and illustrative. Carroll anticipated that facsimile publication would lead to "a considerable [financial] loss, as [End Page 210] I expect the cost of production will be enormous".126 To venture a ballpark guess at costs shows that Carroll was gaining confidence in his technical knowledge of book production. To proceed with the project despite projected losses shows Carroll's passion for it. AAUG is a rare example of an art director enjoying full financial and editorial control. Entrusted by Alice with the gift manuscript's care, Carroll insisted that he have literally hands-on involvement in its reproduction, telling Alice, "… I am having all the photographs taken in my own studio, so that no one touches the MS book except myself."127 He thought of two reproduction methods: lithography, but it is "rough, and gritty, and quite wanting in delicacy of finish"; and "to photograph it, page by page, upon wood-blocks, and cut them like ordinary pictures: and then … electrotype the blocks …"128 Macmillan agreed that the former would be "wooly and gritty" and said that the latter would be "really interesting" but expensive.129 Carroll, as art director, brainstormed solutions to his reproduction dilemma, weighed each approach's pros and cons, and then sought input from a colleague. The knowledge base required to think through these steps indicates that Carroll had immersed himself in the printing and publishing industries since launching his first book two decades earlier.

Carroll and Macmillan arranged to have each page of the manuscript photographed by J. H. Noad (whose negligence caused Carroll to engage in detective work and take legal action); the negatives were reproduced as zinc plates by John Swain; the zincs were electrotyped by Clay, who printed the book.130 This was a rigorous production process—along the lines of the one that Macmillan called interesting and expensive—and Carroll actively participated in it. He checked printer's proofs and remarked that "Each page is generally good, by itself (except that the pictures are now and then too light or too dark …)," but he was aggrieved that "the pages are not so placed that the tops of two opposite pages shall be on the same level … this defect would be, in my view, a fatal one".131 Carroll's aforementioned illustration plan for AAIW demonstrates that he carefully considered the layout of single pages. His concern with top margins on facing versos and rectos in AAUG demonstrates that he was, rightly, also concerned with the double-page spread as a cohesive unit. Despite assurances from Macmillan and Clay that the margins would be equalized, Carroll found that Burn hurriedly bound copies with unequal margins, and consequently "The artistic effect of all such copies is, to a great extent, spoilt".132 Carroll accepted the copies but asserted that "if a similar thing happens in future, I will have no mercy at all, but shall come to town and myself examine the whole impression, [End Page 211] and cancel all spoilt copies, and decline to reckon them as part of my order".133 Sprinkling critiques with adamant italics and issuing warnings with a tug of his purse strings were characteristic of Carroll. His focus was, at all times, the pursuit of quality.

Carroll conceptualized AAUG as an "edition de luxe": "it must be red cloth and gilt edges, to match the other Alices [i.e. the red-cloth AAIW and TTLG]. But we cannot have medallions [on the case]; my drawings are too bad for that. So my idea is to have the title printed in gold, in some fanciful way, on one side, no gold lines, and the back and the other side left without [a Macmillan] device".134 There are multiple takeaways from this quote: a strategic continuation of the title's red-and-gold branding; an easy admission of inadequate or, more likely, insufficiently crisp illustrations; and resourceful problem solving with a typographic treatment as a substitute for illustrated material. Carroll followed this quote with a hand-lettered sketch that looks markedly similar to the final typographic binding design on the front board. Putting aside three presentation copies—bound in white vellum (for Alice) and dark green and purple morocco cloth135—the published copies realize all of Carroll's original specifications except one. At some point between concept and publication a curious decision was made to compensate for Carroll's "bad" drawings by blocking a medallion of a Tenniel AAIW illustration detail on the back board; it is AAUG's only instance of a Tenniel illustration. It is clear that AAUG's art direction is derivative of the red-cloth AAIW.

The red-cloth AAIW had sold some 70,000 copies by early to mid-1885, so "it occurred to [Carroll] that there must be a good many people, to whom a facsimile of the MS would be interesting".136 Carroll proposed a whopping initial print run of 10,000 copies, but the house of Macmillan estimated modest sales of 500–1,000 copies because "People are by this time so much accustomed to plain type that it is only a collector here and there who will buy a facsimile from MS".137 AAIW had an adult audience that included parents and non-parents, but they were a secondary audience. Carroll first and foremost considered AAIW to be a children's book, and Macmillan positioned it in that way. Targeting collectors—adults—with AAUG established Alice as a crossover title, which it remains to this day. Conceiving AAUG as an "edition de luxe" positioned it as an upmarket book, yet its price was not fantastic: at four shillings, it was a third cheaper than the red-cloth AAIW. Carroll aimed to publish 5,000 copies before Easter 1886—likely because he considered it a gift book, like the red-cloth AAIW, which was brought out at Christmas. Reproduction delayed publication until December, [End Page 212] however, so AAUG became another Christmas book.138 The ambitious print run and planned holiday release may suggest a pursuit of profit, but Carroll simply wanted to increase audience engagement with Alice; the relatively inexpensive price point corroborates an absence of financial motivation. It is just as well that Carroll was not driven by profit because the edition was not a commercial success; it was not reprinted in Carroll's lifetime. Susina characterizes AAUG "as a kind of prequel, a sort of working version of Wonderland similar to a published version of a director's script".139


The People's Edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Figures 3a and 3b) is what Carroll called the "cheap edition,"140 targeting a lower-end market than the red-cloth edition. Both editions have the same content, including body text and illustrations, and the same octavo format. They differ in their art directions. When Carroll proposed a cheap edition in 1869, he suggested degrading the red-cloth edition: cheaper paper, more text on the page, three-quarters fewer illustrations, separate illustrations (i.e. not integrated in the text), sprinkled edges, and an unornamented case. Macmillan suggested that the layout be retained but the "paper and press work and binding" be cheapened. Carroll rejected these plans because they would "reduce it in quality, not in quantity".141 Carroll and Macmillan struggled to agree on how to achieve a less expensive edition, but "Art direction transcends constraints; in fact, it thrives within them."142 Eighteen long years after proposing the book, Carroll saw specimen pages and declared, "We have got the right thing at last".143

The People's Edition was a clear, decisive break from the elegant red-and-gold branding that Carroll carried across AAIW, TTLG, and AAUG. This latest edition was full-bound in green cloth. The black-and-red pictorial binding design of Tenniel's "Cards flying down upon Alice" illustration144 was framed with a red-ruled box and a hand-lettered title: the dynamic treatment of type and illustration reads like a poster. The front board of the red-cloth edition presented the story with a small, portrait-like illustration and no title whatsoever, whereas the front board of the People's Edition announced the story with an illustration of Alice in action and a large, flowing title. Of all the Carroll-directed Alice editions, the People's Edition was the only one that was branded with a (rather large) Macmillan logo on the case. The logo is on the back board and is therefore not visible when sitting spine out on a bookshelf—unlike the red-cloth edition, which bears the Macmillan name the spine—but the logo is instantly recognizable when the volume is held open by a reader. Whereas the case of the red-cloth AAIW is discreet in its overall appearance, the People's Edition is splashy. The book's [End Page 213] exterior shouts its title, main character, and publisher. Inside, the People's Edition is printed on thinner paper with plain edges rather than gilt. It has fewer pages, which are more flimsily bound in signatures of sixteen rather than eight pages.

In order to achieve an edition cheaper than the red cloth, Carroll aimed for quantitative rather than qualitative reductions. Was he successful? The People's Edition's binding design was more of a change of aesthetics than a question of quality. However, the paper, edging, and binding method were all qualitative degradations; the only quantitative reduction was the page count. All of these changes would have saved on production costs, thus achieving a cheap edition. Whether or not quality was ultimately compromised is debatable: bibliographer Selwyn Goodacre describes the People's Edition as "attractive" and "more modern"; Hancher says it is "less luxurious," reasonably complaining that the resetting of the text (in order to compress it to a reduced extent) disturbs "the precise bracketing" of illustrations.145 Revisiting layout examples given from the red-cloth edition, the Cheshire Cat does not fade in the People's Edition and the mouse's tale is cluttered by additional body text on the page. If the quality of the People's Edition was let down, it was perhaps not by art direction or production values but by page design—which, ironically, was changed in order to achieve the only quantitative reduction.

Carroll conceived the People's Edition because "the present price [of the red-cloth edition] puts the book entirely out of the reach of many thousands of children of the middle classes, who might, I think, enjoy it (below that I don't think it would be appreciated)".146 It targeted "poorer readers" with a price point of 2 shillings 6 pence.147 Carroll suggested placing "[CHEAP EDITION]" on the title page, but Macmillan said that "cheap" was "not a nice word to see on a book" and that "people's edition" would be "pleasanter".148 Carroll feared that sales of the People's Edition could negatively impact those of the red-cloth edition: "People may think it unreasonable to pay … more, merely to get better paper and binding [with the red-cloth edition]".149 Despite its divergent art direction and numerous changes to the caliber of design and production values, Carroll was right; the People's Edition was an immediate bestseller and caused sales of the red-cloth edition to suffer.150

Two months before the People's Edition was published in December 1887 (yet another Christmas book) Carroll strategized an expanded design: an omnibus that combined sheets from runs of the People's Editions of AAIW and TTLG at a price point that was cheaper than buying two single-title volumes.151 Presumably to save on production costs and maintain a consistent [End Page 214] visual, Carroll used both People's Editions binding designs: the front board is the same as the single-title AAIW, the back board is the same as the single-volume TTLG. Overall, the first half of the omnibus, including the front board, is exactly the same as the single-title AAIW. The omnibus was published in January 1888.152 (It also could have benefited from Christmas sales since they did not abruptly end on December 24 as they do now.153) The best estimate of the total number of the People's Edition of AAIWs (including single-volume and omnibus editions) published before Carroll's death in 1898 is 71,000 copies.154 From the outset Carroll had said, "I don't mind its [the People's Edition] damaging the sale of the other [red-cloth edition] a little, provided we thus put the book within reach of a new sphere of readers."155 Although sales of one edition ate into the other's market share, there was an appetite for both, and both remained in print throughout Carroll's lifetime. With the People's Edition, Carroll achieved his stated goal of increased readership.


The (emerging) market for The Nursery "Alice" is perhaps the clearest of all four Alice editions: it is "an early example of a picture book" for "pre-readers" from zero to five years of age.156 There is an important distinction to be drawn, however, between consumers and (pre-)readers of the book. Carroll anticipated that the book would be purchased by mothers for their children. In the "Preface (Addressed to Any Mother)", Carroll says his ambition is for the edition not to be read but "to be thumbed, to be cooed over, to be dogs'-eared, to be rumpled, to be kissed" by young children.157 Carroll aimed for art direction that would encourage such interaction, and design and production values that could withstand it. AAIW and The Nursery "Alice" are quantitatively differentiated by their body text-to-illustration ratios—42 illustrations in 192 text-heavy pages of the red-cloth AAIW compared to 20 illustrations in 56 text-light pages of The Nursery "Alice". Complementary considerations that Carroll made for the younger audience include: a larger, quarto format; color print over boards instead of blocking on cloth; a sturdy binding of 8-page signatures; thicker paper; larger font; text printed in brown ink instead of black ink; and, most significantly, fullcolor illustrations. The Nursery "Alice" is also the only repackaging that prominently features the work of two illustrators.

Carroll diarized his initial (and final) concept of the book: "pictures printed in colours, to be larger and thinner than the original [red-cloth AAIW], with a selection of the text and of the pictures".158 Carroll wrote AAIW before commissioning an illustrator, but he waited for Tenniel to finish The Nursery "Alice" illustrations before he wrote this retelling.159 This [End Page 215] change of tack is evident from a comparison of the two body texts: AAIW references only two of its 42 illustrations, whereas The Nursery "Alice" references 19 of its 20 illustrations. The latter is a "narrative script" for adults to read as children follow along with the illustrations.160 On the whole, the edition's balance of text and illustration is awkward: the cover is more heavily illustrated than any of the other Alices and the Cheshire Cat still fades, but the mouse's tale is curiously absent and more than a third of the slim book is preliminary material and endmatter. In terms of packaging, though, it is the treatment of the illustrations that makes this Alice stand apart from the others.

The Nursery "Alice" represents Carroll's only attempt at color printing.161 The case features two color illustrations by E. Gertrude Thomson, an illustrator of greeting cards and books.162 The dreamy and sentimental cover illustrations are a stark contrast to the realistic and sober interior illustrations. The integrated interior illustrations are essentially colored enlargements of 20 of Tenniel's 42 AAIW illustrations. (Some minor alterations were made to them.163) There has been much debate about who colored Tenniel's illustrations: Tenniel or Edmund Evans, "the most accomplished Victorian color printer".164 Wakeling notes that Evans printed The Nursery "Alice" "using what was a relatively new and expensive process known as chromoxylography … to achieve a variety of hues and tones."165 He printed from wood blocks in seven colors. Seven passes—or eight passes, including that of the key blocks—make finer reproductions than three-color printing, which had been introduced in the 1870s.166 Carroll invested in top-notch print. He therefore felt justified in rejecting the first run, saying, "The pictures are far too bright and gaudy, and vulgarise the whole thing."167 As with the first printing of AAIW, he used America as a dumping ground. (Ironically, the sheets were difficult to sell because American publishers thought they were not bright enough.168) Once the approved reprint was bound for English publication, Carroll was perturbed that copies were too tight to open flat. The thick, heavy paper used to achieve quality color print made the folded and collated sheets difficult to bind; Carroll nevertheless had harsh words for the "very stupid" binder.169 All in all, art directing a picture book proved a tricky business.

The Nursery "Alice"—another gift book, published in time for Easter—was not a commercial success and it did not receive much press.170 Although Carroll figured a print run of 10,000 copies and a retail price of two shillings, the book hit the market at four shillings and is kindly described as a slow seller.171 Owing to Carroll's disapproval of the print and bind and his overly ambitious sales projections, The Nursery "Alice" "presents one of [End Page 216] the most complex problems in the entire bibliographic study of the works of Lewis Carroll" according to Goodacre, who details nine English variants, including a People's Edition and presentation copies.172 The main differences are title-page date, print quality, title-page price (no price and 1–4 shillings), and binding material.173 Whereas the People's Edition of AAIW was a strategic publication differentiated by its art direction, the People's Edition of The Nursery "Alice" is essentially differentiated by its cheaper retail price; it was published in a scramble to clear out copies. Reflecting on the book's overall lack of success, Cohen speculates that the intended audience was too specialized and/or consumers and reviewers were distracted by the other Alice editions then on the market.174 Or perhaps The Nursery "Alice" is what art directors call "a 'save'—to package something in such a way as to hide its structural flaws".175


The first Alice edition that Macmillan published (very shortly) after Carroll's death in January 1898 was the Sixpenny Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It was the cheapest edition yet. Macmillan began publishing the Macmillan Sixpenny Series a decade earlier, repackaging backlist titles to target a low-end market. The Sixpenny AAIW is a slim paperback aimed at the very classes that Carroll had said would not appreciate the story. The standard Carroll bibliography cites some evidence (e.g. estimates and proofs) that Carroll contemplated a sixpenny edition.176 However, Wakeling compellingly argues that Carroll was not involved with the 1898 edition and would have been dismayed at its cheapness.177 The placement of the illustrations is compromised, the paper is toothy and thin, and the volume does not lay quiet. It shows neither the grand vision nor attention to detail that mark the earlier Carroll-directed Alices. It is a low point on which to end a survey of art direction. Its significance to this discussion lies mainly in the fact that design and production values were once again adapted to target the AAIW body text and illustrations to a larger audience—one that was outside of Carroll's authorial and directorial vision.


Alice's 154-year evolution from golden Victorian to inky goth girl is largely attributable to Carroll's early repackagings. Each edition that Carroll art directed has a unique selling point that strategically targeted a new Alice audience and thus contributed to the title's diversity and longevity. Carroll was an accidental art director, but then again, he was also an accidental author. Alice's first form was oral: a story told on a boat ride to Alice Liddell and her sisters. Its second form was an elaborate manuscript that Carroll printed and illustrated by hand in a green leather notebook as a gift for [End Page 217] Alice. Its third form was the red-cloth Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ([1865] 1866) for children of the upper classes. Carroll then conceived and executed a range of editions, including adapted and expanded designs. He targeted specific segments of the Victorian children's literature market with his art direction: collectors with Alice's Adventures Under Ground (1886), a manuscript facsimile; "poorer" readers with the People's Edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1887), an overall cheapened production; and (the mothers of) new, pre-readers with The Nursery "Alice" (1890), a picture book. Carroll's primary objective was to "secure the best possible artistic results"178 with each repackaging. Not every edition enjoyed critical and/or commercial success. Taken together, though, Alice is a phenomenon. Ripple effects of Alice's successes spread immediately in the Victorian publishing industry, and they are still felt today. Carroll collected what he called "books of the 'Alice' type"—that is, content type.179 His collection could have included—then as now—books that follow his art direction.

Carroll's art direction played with conventions, yielding innovations. He art directed a few singular triumphs, like the celebrated mouse's tale. It is the collection of Alice editions, though, that is arguably his greatest legacy as an art director. Taken together, as a portfolio of pieces, the title is strong. The books do what they say on their generic tins—the cheap edition looks like a cheap edition and the picture book looks like a picture book—but they also contain surprises, like the Cheshire Cat fading with the flip of a page, that are sensitive to the editorial content. Collectively, the books built a solid foundation for the title's long publishing history. Carroll's art direction not only targeted multiple audiences, but it also gave rise to new Alices. Imitations and parodies of Alice that were published in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries mimicked Carroll's art direction, from cloth selection to binding design to typographic treatment, suggesting that the look and feel of the books were as essential to Alice as text and illustration.180 Many twenty-first-century editions of Alice "trade on a kind of broken-doll aesthetic," reworking Carroll's recognizable Victorian fairy-tale aesthetic into a dark and quirky Neo-Victorian style.181 Carroll's art direction is source material for today's art directors.

Regarding Carroll's professional activities through the lens of present-day practice provides fresh insight into how and why Carroll commodified Alice. Art director is an anachronistic but, more importantly, fitting title for the role that Carroll played in the visual and material realizations of his texts. Heller and Vienne are right to say that "most art directors are hand-maidens of those in higher positions [who decide upon content] … Art directors are seldom remembered by the public at large."182 Carroll is an unusual [End Page 218] figure. He lives in the popular imagination as a writer, but his authorship in fact extends to art direction. Accordingly, works by collectors and academics in the field of Carrollian studies touch on Carroll's involvement in book "production".183 However, they lack a critical industrial perspective, thus tending to marginalize the impacts of the look and feel of the book on the title's markets. Susina breaks new ground in the literature: "One of the most important and underappreciated aspects of Carroll's multi-faceted career is that of savvy businessman and entrepreneur of his various Alice books. … He understood that a book was an aesthetic object that can be made more appealing by good design."184 This article's complementary recovery of Carroll as an art director focuses on his strategic aesthetics. It follows each edition from initial concept to final publication, reflecting on creative and commercial successes. It is, critically, supported by industry experience. Heller notes that, over the course of his own career, "The media, technologies, and styles have changed but the fundamental notion of what an art director is remains…"185; this holds true for the century-and-a-half span between Carroll's career and today's recovery of it. Being an art director "means having vision enough to see, define, and direct the total picture."186 Carroll's eye may have been untrained but he nevertheless had vision.

Amanda Lastoria

Amanda Lastoria is Canada's first PhD candidate in Publishing (Simon Fraser University). Her research interrogates the impacts of the book's design and production values on the text's markets and meanings. She has more than a decade of professional experience in the publishing industry and is former Editor of the Lewis Carroll Review.


1. "Alice" is used throughout as a collective title for all four editions that are described below.

2. "Edition" is used here, as it is in the book publishing industry, to mean a (re)packaging.

3. Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by John Tenniel (London: Macmillan, [1865] 1866); Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia (New York: Harper Design, 2010).

4. Mark Burstein, "Introduction," Alice Illustrated: 120 Images from the Classic Tales of Lewis Carroll, ed. Jeff A. Menges (Mineola, NY: Dover, 2012), vii.

5. See retail sites such as

6. Excepting misprints and editorial changes.

7. A history of the title "art director" is not yet written, but the founding of the Art Directors Club in New York City in 1920 is a milestone in its common use. Then associated primarily with advertising, the title is now used in many media industries, including publishing. See Nick Agin, "What the F*#@ is an Art-Director?," Medium, (posted October 24, 2016; accessed August 6, 2017); Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit, Graphic Design Referenced (Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2009), 245. For early use in magazine publishing see Steven Heller and Véronique Vienne, Art Direction Explained, at Last! (London: Laurence King, 2009), 227.

8. Recent noteworthy publications include Edward Wakeling, Lewis Carroll: The Man and his Circle (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2015) and Selwyn G. Goodacre, Elucidating Alice: A Textual Commentary on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Laois, Ireland: Evertype, 2015).

9. The first work to argue that Carroll was a full-fledged art director is Amanda Lastoria, "Lewis Carroll, Author and Art Director?," paper presented at "From Text(s) to Book(s)," Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France, June 21–23, 2012.

10. Morton N. Cohen and Anita Gandolfolo, eds., Lewis Carroll and the House of Macmillan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 19; Burstein 2012, viii.

11. Michael Hancher, The Tenniel Illustrations to the "Alice" Books (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1985); Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass: A Publishing History (Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013).

12. Jan Susina, The Place of Lewis Carroll in Children's Literature (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), 4, also 8–9, 61–9.

13. Agin, "What the F*#@"; Heller and Vienne, Art Direction Explained.

14. Steven Heller and Véronique Vienne, eds., The Education of an Art Director (New York: Allworth, 2006), xii, my emphasis.

15. Ibid., xv.

16. Dan Mall, "Art Direction and Design," A List Apart, (posted November 2, 2010; accessed August 6, 2017).

17. Heller and Vienne, The Education of an Art Director, xviii.

18. Carroll was an editorial art director as opposed to, for example, an advertising art director. Distinctions hinge on content type and extent of concern with commerce. See Heller and Vienne, eds., 2009, 10.

19. Wakeling, Lewis Carroll, 243.

20. Lewis Carroll, The Letters of Lewis Carroll, Volume Two: ca. 1886–1898, ed. Morton N. Cohen (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 591.

21. Carroll calls this manuscript Alice's Adventures Underground in his diaries. However, this article uses the title Alice's Adventures Under Ground, which is how it appears on the cover of the manuscript facsimile that Carroll published in 1886, in Carroll's letters to his publisher, and in bibliographies.

22. Lewis Carroll, The Diaries of Lewis Carroll, Volume I, ed. Roger Lancelyn Green (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954), 181; Sidney Herbert Williams and Falconer Madan, The Lewis Carroll Handbook (Folkestone and Hamden, CT: Wm. Dawson and Sons and Archon Books, 1979), 26.

23. Carroll, Diaries, 1:181–2, 196.

24. Carroll's page layout is so clean and measured that designer Andrew Ogus speculates that he used a grid and/or illustrated the gift manuscript before writing it (correspondence with the author, March 5, 2017). Ogus (re)created Carroll's grid to give an air of authenticity to a recent fictitious self-publication of the "lost" manuscript of TTLG.

25. Carroll, Diaries, 1:196.

26. Ibid., 1:206

27. Michael Wace, "From Carroll to Crompton: The Work of a Children's Publisher," Macmillan: A Publishing Tradition, ed. Elizabeth James (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), 244–5.

28. Carroll, Diaries, 1:236.

29. Morton N. Cohen, "Lewis Carroll and the House of Macmillan," Browning Institute Studies, 7 (1979): 36; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 14–5.

30. See Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 19.

31. Cohen, "Carroll and the House of Macmilan," 45.

32. e.g. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 36–7, 71, 97–8, 124–5, 145, 205–6, 259, 340, 359.

33. Charles Morgan, The House of Macmillan (1843–1943) (London: Macmillan, 1943), 79, 81.

34. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 97, also 195–6.

35. Ibid., 15; also Morton N. Cohen and Edward Wakeling, eds., Lewis Carroll and His Illustrators: Collaborations and Correspondence, 1865–1898 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), xxiv.

36. Morgan, House of Macmillan, 108–9.

37. See Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 129.

38. Allan C. Dooley, Author and Printer in Victorian England (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 1992), 1. Dooley (p. 155) mentions Carroll in passing, saying that he "gave very specific orders" for the printing and drying of TTLG illustrations.

39. Sean Grass, Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend: A Publishing History (Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014); Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Christina Rossetti and Illustration: A Publishing History (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002).

40. e.g. Cohen and Wakeling, Carroll and His Illustrators, xxviii; Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 113; Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 17.

41. Cohen and Wakeling, Carroll and His Illustrators, xxiii.

42. Heller and Vienne, Art Direction Expalined, xvii.

43. Ibid., xii.

44. Morton N. Cohen, Lewis Carroll: A Biography (New York and Toronto: Vintage, 1996), 147; Wakeling, Lewis Carroll, 175.

45. Lewis Carroll, The Letters of Lewis Carroll, Volume One: ca. 1837–1885, ed. Morton N. Cohen (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 326; Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll (New York: The Century Co., 1899), 102.

46. e.g. Charlie Lovett, Lewis Carroll Among his Books (Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland and Co., 2005), entries 384, 896, 1558, 1723, 1726, 2134.

47. Heller and Vienne, Art Direction Explained, 11.

48. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, 151.

49. e.g. reproduced in ibid., 9, 26.

50. e.g. reproduced in Collingwood, Life and Letters, 82, 124, 425.

51. Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 103.

52. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, 151; Cohen and Wakeling, Carroll and His Illustrators, xvi.

53. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, 174.

54. Carroll, Letters, 2:325.

55. This approach of teasing out influences on design treatments is in keeping with that of Steven Heller and Mirko Ilić, The Anatomy of Design (Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2007). Heller and Ilić speculate on possible visual and material references that informed cover designs and posters. Similarly, Susina (Place of Lewis Carroll, 28) looks to Carroll's personal library for literary influences.

56. Lovett, Carroll Among His Books.

57. e.g. ibid., entries 808, 1369, 1490, 1992, 2193.

58. e.g. ibid., entries 31, 2259.

59. e.g. ibid., entries 983, 1703.

60. e.g. ibid., entries 269, 704. Lovett does not record printers unless they also engraved the book's illustrations; binders are not noted.

61. Ibid., entries 303–7, 1369–71.

62. e.g. ibid., entries 496, 808–9, 1370, 1703, 1278.

63. e.g. ibid., entries 332–3, 819.

64. e.g. ibid., entries 36–7, 505.

65. e.g. ibid., entries 488, 1501.

66. e.g. ibid., entries 650–1, 654, 1141, 1180, 1751.

67. Ibid., entries 546–9, 1137–8.

68. e.g. ibid., entries 578, 785.

69. e.g. ibid., entries 758, 1131, 1192.

70. e.g. ibid., entries 576, 624.

71. e.g. ibid., entries 547, 1847.

72. e.g. Carroll, Diaries, 1:217; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 10, 35; Lovett, Carroll Among His Books, entry 304.

73. Carroll, Diaries, 1:199; Wakeling, Lewis Carroll, 72, 236.

74. Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, xv.

75. Carroll, Letters, 1:62.

76. Wakeling, Lewis Carroll, 73.

77. Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 34. For art criticism of parallel Carroll and Tenniel illustrations, see Tom Lubbock, English Graphic (London: Frances Lincoln, 2012), 157–9.

78. Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 114.

79. Ibid., 107–8.

80. Leo John De Freitas, A Study of Sir John Tenniel's Wood-Engraved Illustrations to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (London: Macmillan, 1988), 26, 39.

81. Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 100.

82. De Freitas, Tenniel's Wood-Engraved Illustrations, 26–7, 45.

83. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 295.

84. e.g. Cohen and Wakeling, Carroll and His Illustratrators, 5–7; Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 100; Clare Imholtz, "Notes on the Early Printing History of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice' Books," The Book Collector, 62, no. 2 (Summer 2013): n.p.; Justin G. Schiller, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: An 1865 Printing Re-Described and Newly Identified as the Publisher's "File Copy" (New York: Battledore, Ltd. and The Jabberwock, 1990), 10–1; Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 29–35.

85. Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 100.

86. Ibid.

87. Jaques and Giddens, Carroll's Alice, 30, 37.

88. Schiller, File Copy, 10.

89. Heller and Vienne, Art Direction Explained, xviii–xix.

90. Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 33.

91. De Freitas, Tenniel's Wood-Engraved Illustrations, 48.

92. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 37–8; Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 34.

93. Schiller, File Copy, 14.

94. Carroll, Diaries, 1:234.

95. Cohen and Wakeling, Carroll and His Illustratrators, 6.

96. Heller and Vienne, Art Direction Explained, xv.

97. Cohen and Wakeling, Carroll and His Illustrators; also Cohen and Gandolfo, eds., 1987, 220.

98. Carroll, Diaries, 1:236.

99. Ibid., 1:217.

100. Michael Hancher, On the Writing, Illustration and Publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice Books (London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1984), 8–9.

101. See reproduction of illustration plan in Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, f.p. 196; see also Wakeling, Lewis Carroll, 76.

102. Reproduced in Gavin Delahunty and Christoph Benjamin Schulz, eds., Alice in Wonderland: Through the Visual Arts (Liverpool, England: Tate Publishing, 2012), 68.

103. Reproduced in ibid., 69.

104. Carroll, Diaries, 1:217; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 10.

105. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 40.

106. Ibid., 35.

107. Ibid., 36.

108. Ibid., 37, 221.

109. Tara Moore, Victorian Christmas in Print (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 20. For a case study of AAIW and other Carroll titles as Christmas books, see pp. 109–11.

110. Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 37, also 110.

111. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 39.

112. Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, xv.

113. Carroll, Diaries, 1:236–7.

114. Ibid., 1:246.

115. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 139, 274.

116. Ibid., 295.

117. Ibid., 329.

118. Carroll, Diaries, 2:528; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 295–6, 357.

119. Carroll, Diaries, 2:528; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 329.

120. Carroll, Diaries, 2:539; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 341, 357.

121. Imholtz, "Notes on the Early Printing History."

122. e.g. Carroll, Diaries, 1:239; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 48, 65, 105, 111, 164, 205.

123. Jaques and Giddens, Carroll's Alice, 19–22.

124. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 139.

125. See National Art Library pressmark AA.CARL.AL.1882. I examined this copy in 2012. It is not recorded in the standard Carroll bibliography (Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook). In 2013 I bought it to the attention of bibliographer Selwyn Goodacre, who in turn shared my findings with fellow Carrollians. Goodacre (correspondence with the author, July 19, 2013) and collector Clare Imholtz (correspondence with the author, August 1, 2013) confirm that they were hitherto unaware of any green-cloth copies.

126. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 188.

127. Carroll, Diaries, 2:588.

128. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 188–9.

129. Ibid.

130. Carroll, Diaries, 2:591, 647–8; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 191–2, 197, 210.

131. Ibid., 213–4.

132. Ibid., 214, 221.

133. Ibid., 221.

134. Ibid., 205–6, 221.

135. Carroll, Diaries, 2:648; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 218.

136. Carroll, Diaries, 2:591.

137. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 211.

138. Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 143–5.

139. Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 66.

140. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 77–8.

141. Ibid.

142. Mall, "Art Direction and Design."

143. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 235.

144. Amanda Lastoria, "Lastoria List of Titles for Tenniel's Alice's Adventures in Wonder-land Illustrations," The Carrollian, no. 26 (February 2015): 44–51. Also available at (accessed August 31, 2017).

145. Selwyn H. Goodacre, "Lewis Carroll's 1887 Corrections to Alice," The Library 28, no. 2 (June 1, 1973): 132; Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 121.

146. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 77.

147. Ibid., 78; Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 110.

148. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 237.

149. Ibid., 79.

150. Goodacre, "Corrections to Alice," 132.

151. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 238–9; Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 36, 154, 155.

152. Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 155.

153. Moore, Victorian Christmas, 41.

154. Imholtz, "Notes on the Early Printing History."

155. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 77.

156. Ibid., 93; also Wace, "Carroll to Crompton," 250.

157. Reproduced in Morton N. Cohen, "Another Wonderland: Lewis Carroll's The Nursery 'Alice'," The Lion and the Unicorn, 7/8 (1983–4): 122.

158. Carroll, Diaries, 2:394.

159. Ibid., 2:437, 466; Cohen, Lewis Carroll, 122.

160. Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 90–1.

161. Carroll had only considered printing AAIW in red ink (Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 144, 145).

162. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, 120.

163. Selwyn H. Goodacre, "The Nursery 'Alice'—A Bibliographical Essay," Jabberwocky, 4 (Autumn 1975): 101, 110–1; Selwyn H. Goodacre, "The Nursery 'Alice'—A Bibliographical Update," Jabberwocky, 87 (Summer 1994): 39.

164. Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 88; also Goodacre, "Nursery 'Alice'" (1975), 101.

165. Wakeling, Lewis Carroll, 87.

166. Goodacre, "Nursery 'Alice'" (1975), 109; Susina 2010, 88.

167. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 257.

168. Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 161.

169. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 263–4, 266.

170. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, 124–5; Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 89.

171. Carroll, Diaries, 2:394; Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 347; Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 162.

172. Goodacre, "Nursery 'Alice'" (1975), 100. For more general discussion see Jaques and Giddens Carroll's Alice, 62–76.

173. Goodacre, "Nursery 'Alice'" (1975) and "Nursery 'Alice'" (1994).

174. Cohen, Lewis Carroll, 124–5.

175. Heller and Vienne, Art Direction Explained, xiii.

176. Williams and Madan, Carroll Handbook, 36.

177. Wakeling, personal communication with author, July 4, 2012; also Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 77; Hancher, Tenniel Illustrations, 122.

178. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, 195.

179. e.g. Lovett, Carroll Among His Books, entries 83, 1049, 1397.

180. e.g. Caroline Lewis, Clara in Blunderland (London: William Heinemann, 1902); Anna M. Richards, A New Alice in the Old Wonderland (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1895).

181. Amanda Lastoria, "The Pinteresting Broken-Doll Aesthetic of Neo-Victorian Alices," Journal of Victorian Culture Online, (posted October 21, 2013; accessed February 17, 2019).

182. Heller and Vienne, Art Direction Explained, 8–9.

183. Across the field it is necessary to interpret jargon because it is often misused. For example, each instance of "production" must be unpacked because it is used in the literature as an umbrella term for all manufacturing processes and all physical properties (e.g. Cohen and Gandolfo, Carroll and Macmillan, blurb, 2, 15; Cohen and Wakeling, Carroll and His Illustrators, xxiii; Jaques and Giddens, Carroll's Alice, 63; Schiller, File Copy, 10).

184. Susina, Place of Lewis Carroll, 8.

185. Heller and Vienne, Education of an Art Director, xix.

186. Ibid.

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