Lewis Carroll

All posts tagged Lewis Carroll

Balbus was assisting his mother-in-law to convince the dragon

Published April 18, 2013 by Jill London

Balbus was assisting his mother-in-law to convince the dragon.


“Balbus was assisting his mother-in-law to convince the dragon” by A. B. Frost.

This illustration comes from Eligible Apartments, the second of Lewis Carroll’s ‘knots’ (mathematical problems which apparently much keener brains than mine consider fun to unravel). These knots (or short stories) form a larger piece entitled A Tangled Tale  which was published serially between April 1880 and March 1885.  Readers would write in with their suggested answers and in later issues Carroll gave the solution to each knot and discussed readers’ answers. Carroll described these works thus:

The writer’s intention was to embody in each Knot (like medicine so dexterously, but ineffectually, concealed in the jam of our early childhood) one or more mathematical questions — in Arithmetic, Algebra, or Geometry, as the case might be — for the amusement, and possible edification, of the fair readers of that magazine.

The artist: Arthur Burdett Frost (January 17, 1851 – June 22, 1928), was an early American illustrator, graphic artist, comics writer and well known painter. Frost is considered one of the great illustrators in the “Golden Age of American Illustration”, illustrating over 90 books and producing hundreds of paintings. Frost married another artist, illustrator Emily Louise Phillips, in 1883 and from 1906 until May 1914, Frost and his family lived in France, attracted by the Impressionist movement. Source: Wikipedia.

If you want to read knot II, from which this illustration comes, you can do so here:




No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise.

Published March 25, 2013 by Jill London
Cover of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderlan...

Mervyn Peake’s ‘seductive’ Alice

Today, I wanted to post a selection of Alices as dreamed up by various illustrators. Some are familiar, some I’d never seen before, but all are decidedly lovely.

Famous for its ‘nonsense’ play on words and the shifting, dream-like plot Alice has become a classic, inspiring numerous films, live productions and even comic book adaptations. According to Wikipedia, Alice’s Adventures has been translated into 125 languages, reaching countless readers and inspiring a number of sequels from writers keen to keep the spirit of ‘Alice’ alive. Since 1907 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been illustrated by over 150 different illustrators, including artists as varied as Mabel Lucie Attwell (1910), Mervyn Peake (1946), Ralph Steadman (1967), and even Salvador Dali (1969).

Some of the illustrations are beautiful, some strange, depending on the individual artist and what Alice meant to them. In this selection I’ve chosen my favourites but maybe you would choose something quite different for yours?

A_E_ Jackson

‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.’ A. E. Jackson, famous for his illustrations of Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, The Water Babies, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, mostly between 1910 and 1920.

arthur rackham

You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’  Arthur Rackham. One of my favourite illustrators, always instantly recognisable and unique.

Willy Pogany

‘Sentence first, verdict afterwards.’ Willy Pogany. A surprise this one, I had never seen Alice in such an obviously different period costume before.

Bessie Pease Gutmann

‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!’ Bessie Pease Gutmann. This Alice from 1907. During the early 1900s Gutmann was one of the best-known magazine and book illustrators in the United States.

Harry Furniss

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’ Harry Furniss. Furniss worked on a number of projects with Lewis Carroll, though he found Carroll much too controlling and would pretend to be out when he called. I hope to be adding some more of his artwork here soon.

jessie willcox smith

‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’ Jessie Willcox Smith. Born in Philadelphia in 1863, apparently Smith was originally a teacher before accidentally discovering her gift for drawing aged 20.

mabel lucie attwell

‘So many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.‘ Mabel Lucie Attwell. A British illustrator known for her sweet and nostalgic paintings of children, which she based on her daughter, Peggy

puffin chris riddell

‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, ‘than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’ Chris Riddell. Sadly there is only a cover illustration from Chris. I would love to see his take on wonderland!

So that’s a small selection of the many ‘faces’ of Alice. Who is your favourite Alice illustrator? Tell us about the illustrations you love best and why you love them.

World Poetry Day

Published March 21, 2013 by Jill London

Vogon Poetry

In 1999 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) declared March 21 to be World Poetry Day, a day now celebrated in hundreds of countries around the world, most especially in classrooms where children are encouraged to take an interest in the form.

All too often there are complaints that no-one reads poetry any more but if asked most people will reveal that they do indeed have their favourites which shows us that perhaps all people really need is exposure.

There is good poetry, which most people will happily listen to (it’s always better to hear poetry than to read it I think), and there is bad poetry which makes us awkward and embarrassed. Douglas Adams nicely summed up the effects of bad poetry:

Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe. The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience members died of internal hemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council, survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos is reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his twelve-book epic entitled My Favourite Bath-time Gurgles when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilization, leaped straight up through his neck and throttled his brain. The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England, in the destruction of the planet Earth.”

Some of my Favourite Poems (in no particular order)

 Still I rise – Maya Angelou. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/still-i-rise/

Stop all the clocks, Cut off the phones – W.H.Auden  http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/stop-all-the-clocks-cut-off-the-phones/

Bagpipe Music – Louis MacNeice http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/bagpipe-music/

Jabberwocky – Lewis Carroll http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/jabberwocky/

When You Are Old – W.B.Yeats  http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15526

 I’ve chosen a selection that I think should get a bit more exposure as some poems always seem to get a mention. Are you tired of seeing Kipling’s If on a favourites list? Does a love of Shakespeare’s sonnets just make people sound pretentious? Should people read more kids poetry (or more poetry to kids)? As always I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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