Salvador Dalí’s work is trippy anyway, so the pairing of Dalí and Alice In Wonderland writer Lewis Carroll, must have seemed like a perfect match in the 1960s when Random House publishers commissioned Dalí to illustrate an exclusive edition of Alice In Wonderland, and had Dalí sign every copy.
Originally titled Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (1865) by writer Carroll, a pseudonym for English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, it tells the tale of a young girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar creatures. The story plays with the notion of logic. No wonder kids and stoners love it so much. Its narrative structure, characters, and imagery have been enormously influential in popular culture and literature.
This rare 1969 edition of Alice In Wonderland has long been coveted by rare book collectors. However, for the 150th anniversary of Lewis’ book, this amazing collaboration of two surrealists has finally been reprinted by Princeton University Press. The deluxe edition features an introduction explaining Dalí’s connection to Carroll and an exploration of the mathematics found in Dalí’s illustrations.
In 1865, the original publication had illustrations by John Tenniel, with a first print run of 2,000. The entire print run sold out quickly. Alice was a publishing sensation. Among its avid fans were Queen Victoria and young Oscar Wilde. The book has never been out of print and has been translated into 174 languages. We now mostly refer to it by the abbreviated title, which has been popularized by its many stage, film and television adaptations produced over the decades. Some printings of this title contain both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through The Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There.
Here’s a little background: on a summer day in 1862 Carroll and his friend Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed a boat with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, including 10-year-old Alice Liddell. Carroll told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day.
In winter 1864, he gave Alice Liddell the handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, with his own illustrations, dedicating it as “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day”.
Children’s book collector and former football player Pat McInally sold Alice Liddell’s own copy at auction for $115,000 in 2009.
Here are more Dalí illustration for the reprinted 150th Anniversary edition: