Tidbit Histories – FLASH! Alice Debuts, Then Disappears!

2000 copies of the first printing of ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND were printed by the Clarendon Press in Oxford in 1865 and delivered to Macmillan for publication.  Fifty copies were reserved for the author, one of which Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) requested Macmillan send directly to his young friend Alice Hargraves, the model for the character of Alice, to arrive by July 4th.

Meanwhile, Dodgson dropped in at the Macmillan offices and inscribed 18 to 20 of the remaining 49 copies to be distributed to friends. On July 19th Dodgson received a letter from his illustrator, John Tenniel, stating his dissatisfaction with the printing of his illustrations.

On August 3rd, Dodgson decided they would have to reprint the entire edition. Dodgson wrote everyone who had received the inscribed advance copies requesting they be returned, but with a promise for a better copy. The roughly 1,950 copies of defective sheets remaining were sold to D. Appleton and Company in New York and, with a new title page, became the first American edition of Alice.

It is questionable whether it can even be said that this printing was ever published in England, as no copies were ever distributed to libraries for copyright or to book stores for sale. The British Library finally received a copy in 1952.

Of the 22 known surviving copies, one recently sold at Christies with an estimate of 2-3 million dollars.


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