II. The Pool of Tears

Illustration from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1910)

[ Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1910) with illustrations by Mabel Lucie Attwell ]

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Aside from publishing his own manuscript and the print version accompanied by Tenniel's illustrations, Lewis Carroll would revisit Alice both for a sequel and for a young-child-friendly rewrite called The Nursery "Alice," published in 1890. The rewrite addressed young readers directly and simplified familiar events, including the crying that led to the pool of tears:

Well, of course she could do that: but what good was it to get the door open, when she couldn't get through? She was worse off than ever, poor thing! She could just manage, by putting her head down, close to the ground, to look through with one eye! But that was all she could do. No wonder the poor tall child sat down and cried as if her heart would break.

Lewis Carroll's death in 1898 opened the door to new versions of Alice, and the end of the copyright on Carroll's text in 1907 would bring hundreds of new illustrators to Wonderland. These transformations often altered the style of Alice and Wonderland dramatically while keeping Carroll's and Tenniel's blueprints. Mabel Lucie Attwell's illustration of Alice follows the same long-form with the text on one side of the page, but Alice's wardrobe and expression are markedly different. Faced with this Alice through the looking glass, would Tenniel's Alice even recognize herself?

The color plates of Attwell's Alice are even less recognizable, with a pink dress and red hair, traversing a Wonderland of soft and comical creatures. Through illustrations alone, this Wonderland is gentler, not unlike the "friendly" rewrite of Carroll's Nursery Alice.

It is impossible to survey all of the illustrators who have taken on Carroll's work—according to the curators of the University of Florida Afterlife of Alice in Wonderland exhibit, it is quite likely that at least one new version of Alice has been published every year since 1907—and that number rises when we consider adaptations across all mediums. As this rumination is grounded in the works in the digital collection that accompanied that exhibition, I've chosen a few of those illustrations here.

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