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The Nursery “Alice”

The Nursery “Alice”

By Lewis Carroll

Second edition, 2015. Illustrations by John Tenniel and Emily Gertrude Thomson. Portlaoise: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-117-0 (paperback), price: €11.95, £9.95, $14.95.

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Alice: and she had a very curious dream.    
Would you like to hear what it was that she dreamed about?    

Lewis Carroll published Alice’s Adventures in Wonder­land in 1865 and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There in 1872. In the entry in his diary for 15 February 1881 he records: “I wrote to Macmillan to suggest a new idea: a ‘Nursery Edition’ of Alice with pictures printed in.” On 20 February 1889, some eight years later, after much preparation and negotiation with both publisher and illustrator, the text was at last ready. The illustrator was John Tenniel, who coloured twenty of his original illustra­tions in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for this “Nursery Edition”. The front and back cover (reprinted here as the frontispiece and on page xiv) were designed by Carroll’s friend Emily Gertrude Thomson.

The story itself is intended for pre-school children “aged from Nought to Five”. Running to just under 7,000 words, it is considerably shorter than both Alice’s Adventures under Ground (15,500 words) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonder­land (27,500 words). Much of the narrative consists of the author’s addressing the young listener, explaining the story by reference to the illustrations. The effect is rather charming, particularly where Carroll pokes fun at features in Tenniel’s illustrations. These were quite skilfully and attractively coloured. Interestingly, Tenniel coloured Alice’s dress yellow with a blue trim and white apron, whereas nowadays most artists colour the dress in blue and white only. (In Nick Willing’s 1999 film Alice in Wonderland, Tina Majorino’s Alice wore a yellow dress.)

In order to produce this volume, the original edition was scanned; the paper, being more than 120 years old, has darkened somewhat. The images below have not been doctored, however, except that the border surrounding the illustrations has been removed.

Here, as in my other editions of Alice books, I have kept to the book design inspired by Martin Gardiner’s Annotated Alice. Since Carrollians are often interested in such details, I will note a few editorial changes which I have made to the text. I have normalized the text for consistency with Carroll’s preferred spellings “ca’n’t” and “wo’n’t”. I have preferred the more modern “wagon” to “waggon” and “stayed” to “staid”. I have added the phrase “on page 8” and changed “this leaf” to “page 40” to guide the reader to two illustrations. In places, Carroll’s punctua­tion has been altered to conform to modern practice.

This edition also contains Carroll’s introductory poem “A Nursery Darling”, his 1890 Preface, and, as appendices, his “Easter Greetings” and “Christmas Greet­ings” to children. These were also published in the 1868 printed edition of Alice’s Adventures under Ground.

Michael Everson
Westport, 15 February 2010


This new edition implements a few corrections, and contains a greatly expanded catalogue of Carrollian publications at the back of the book.

Michael Everson
Portlaoise, 24 July 2015


HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2015-07-31

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