HISTORY OF THE CHESHIRE CAT PRESS
From 1981 to 1998 Joseph Brabant, Bill Poole and George A. Walker worked on publishing two new editions of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The Cheshire Cat Press sought to publish the first hand printed Canadian edition with original wood engravings. Walker created over 190 wood engravings for the two volumes which were printed with hand set type in limited editions of 177 copies. In 2015 the press was revived with the last remaining members of the press. Andy Malcolm wrote the introduction to Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There when in 1998 Joe Brabant's health had deteriorated to the point where he could not complete the project. Joe chose Andy to write the Introduction making him the fourth member of the press. The first project we printed in 2015 for the renewed Cheshire Cat Press were the illustrations by Harry Furniss for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland in a limited edition folio. Click here for more information.
Above and below are pictured special bound copies by George Walker of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The books were printed in a limited edition of 177 copies and all the copies were uniquely bound.
Created: Adventures In Wonderland 1988 and Through the Looking-Glass 1998
Medium: 96 wood engravings for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and 94 wood engravings for Through the Looking-Glass hand printed on Mohawk Letterpress 100% archival paper on a Chandler & Price platen press at Poole Hall Press.
Book size: 9" X 12" (128 pages)
Edition size: 177 copies signed and numbered
Price: $3000.00 OUT OF PRINT
Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s classic comes to life with over one hundred whimsical, eccentric and darkly humorous wood engravings, all created by the ‘Mad Hatter’ of Canadian graphic arts himself, the award-winning George A. Walker.
About the Illustrations
There are books so intimately associated with their illustrator that they can hardly be thought of independently. The Alice books are of this kind. John Tenniel’s magnificently detailed, utterly realistic depictions of Alice’s dream world are as much part of Alice as the immortal characters that live there, so much that in the long line of artists that have succeeded him (and preceded him, if we count Carroll’s own watercolours in the manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Underground) not one has displaced or come near him. Alice is Tenniel’s Alice, the Mad Hatter is Tenniel’s Mad Hatter and it would be impossible to imagine, even before breakfast, a Duchess that did not resemble Tenniel’s Duchess.
And yet ...
Alice’s books are tales told in dreams, and in dreams no reality stands for ever fast. Fluid and changing, dreams become something else both in their own time and in their telling, and every time we go back to them, their landscape has been replaced by another, but not quite different landscape. Fall we must, but the course of the fall will slightly alter every time we come to what we believe is the same rabbit hole in the same daisy-dotted meadow.
George Walker has assumed the right of every reader of Alice to translate the story (and the illustrations) into an illustrated story of his own. Tenniel saw Carroll’s text as a series of tableaux or set episodes, moments in the narration that could stand on their own, like scenes in a diorama. Walker instead has followed a more lively course in which the speed of the action allows no time for standing still and posing (much like the time of Through the Looking-Glass, where one must run very fast to remain in one place.) Glimpses, snapshots, details of larger scenes tell of Walker’s reading, a reading that follows Alice’s frantic pace, far from Victorian sobriety, from madness to greater madness.
In Walker’s version, the tableaux that the adventures traditionally elicit are exploded into dozens of fragments, like those that seem to scurry through medieval manuscripts and early printed books. Here is the rhythmic lobster quadrille, among a splendid aquatic fauna that includes a busy whiting and its shoe. Here are the cards and their monarchs dressed down as earthy variations of their more noble models. Here is the bestiary that Carroll imagined, animal and human, but with a solid, children’s primer-like reality, closer to the picture-books of Carroll’s time than to the political caricatures of Punch in which Tenniel excelled. And Alice herself (as we had forgotten) is not, as Tenniel imagined, a never-varying heroine, but many, a multitude of Alices changing through magic potions and through crises of identity: sometimes schematic and ghostly, sometimes full-bodied and powerful, sometimes with the borrowed traits of one of Wonderland’s strange creatures.
Woodcuts are, of all the illustrating techniques, the one that perhaps shows most confidence in its own language and matter. It acknowledges the mark of the chisel and the veins of the wood, it accepts and assumes its material self, it does not pretend to suffuse its own nature with that of the subject it is depicting, it allows itself to remain true to its own character, while performing its illustrative role for the sake of the story. Woodcuts never deceive the viewer. It is therefore absolutely fitting that Walker should have chosen this technique for illustrating Alice, because Alice too, in spite of everything, remains true to her dreamlike self, to her reality as dreamer, and even in her most alienating moments never forgets that her essence is flesh and bone, not fantasy, and that beyond the page (and the illustration) lies a human being who will wake up when the last word (and trait) of her story are done.
Harry Furniss Portfolio
WHO WAS HARRY FURNISS? Harry Furniss was born in Wexford, Ireland on March 26, 1854. He was a prolific artist and illustrator, best remembered for his humorous illustrations published in Punch, to which he contributed over 2,600 drawings from 1880 to 1894. Furniss was eleven years old when Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published. He regretted not being old enough to illustrate the Alice book for himself. He was delighted when Carroll singled him out to illustrate the Sylvie and Bruno books. Carroll recognized Furniss’ ability to draw both character likenesses and grotesques; an essential ingredient for his new book. Sylvie and Bruno was nothing like Alice’s Adventures. Furniss said that this was a bitter disappointment to him. Inwardly, he nursed the ambition to do his own illustrated version of Alice. When the copyright ran out in 1907, he drew twenty illustrations for the book. But few people have seen Alice illustrated by Harry Furniss. They first appeared in three installments of The Children’s Encyclopaedia edited by Arthur Mee in 1908. This is the first time enlarged, high resolution copies of the original Furniss art has been made available for sale in a hand printed folio.
The portfolio is housed in a clam shell box made from the finest quality materials. The polymer plates were made from high resolution scans; sixteen of these images are from the original drawings from the archives of the Fales Library in New York City.
Medium: 24 Letterpress plates hand printed on 250 gm Arches Velin Cream French 100% rag archival paper.
Paper size: 11” X 15”
Edition size: 66 copies signed and numbered by Edward Wakeling and the publishers. Price: $1000.00 USD Lewis Carroll Society Members: $800.00 USD
COPIES STILL AVAILABLE!
Introduction to the Furniss folio by Edward Wakeling
Edward Wakeling is an international authority on Lewis Carroll and owns one of the finest collections of Carroll material in private hands. A former chairman of the Lewis Carroll Society, he edited the ten volumes of Lewis Carroll’s Diaries and regularly acts as a consultant to auctioneers, television programs and exhibitions worldwide. His books include Lewis Carroll’s Oxford Pamphlets (University of Virginia Press, 1993), Lewis Carroll, Photographer (with Roger Taylor, Princeton University Press, 2002), Lewis Carroll and his Illustrators (with Morten N. Cohen, Cornell University Press, 2003) and Lewis Carroll, The Man and his Circle (I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2015).