Arthur Rackham – Dark Alice

Alice - Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham

1907 marks an important year in Wonderland’s publications timeline. The copyright of Alice’s adventures in wonderland, published in 1865, expired on 1907, and some of the most beautiful editions came out, crowned by one of the worlds all-time celebrated illustrators – Arthur Rackham.

My review of Rackham’s Alice, as any other review here, is not the aftermath of an educated study. Please take all with a grain of salt, and I encourage my nonexistent readers to doubt anything written here.
Rackham’s depiction of Alice and Wonderland were different from the tone and sentiment of others, he was the first to identify Alice’s journey, as one of a lost girl, in a world that is almost unfriendly, rather dark, with a sense of horror and despair.
Look at this image of Alice, standing by the White rabbit.
Look at their physical forms. She’s crouched and twisted, while he is not your Disney-funny-bunny, but rather, a real rabbit, with scary red eyes, and human-sized. The atmosphere is somewhat dreary. Look at that barren tree, at the dry stream. Is this Wonderland? Would you feel safe wandering about in this place? Would you to take tea with this guy?

Lets start at the beginning though.
I have a couple of Rackham’s in my Alice in wonderland book collection, this one is the slightly fancier one. 1st edition, 1907, purchased on ebay, for around $120, if I recall correctly.
Alice - Arthur Rackham
The front cover, with Alice, and the Gryphon, listening to the sad story of the Mock Turtle

rackham alice cover
Inside cover, I recognize Bill the lizard, the White Rabbit, and the mad tea party trio (im guessing here).
Rackham’s Alice seems to be older than Tenniel’s Alice, older than Carroll’s initial drafts. She’s somewhere between childhood and adolescence. Perhaps Rackham recognized Alice’s journey through Wonderland, as journey of a girl entering the world of adults.
If my memory serves me right, Alice never meets other children. The one freaky time she’s close to it, is in Pig and Pepper chapter, with the baby turning into the pig. All else are presented as adults, with issues, and jobs, and fears, and serious tones, and dire threats.
Perhaps making her older, corresponds with how Rackham perceived Wonderland. As a place that’s really not for kids.
Rackhams Alice
Rackham’s Alice, in a colored illustration that’s positioned before the title page.
Title page, with the White rabbit, and a few gardners / card soldiers. First edition, 1907, publishers details: New York ‘Doubleday’ Doran & Co. London, ‘William’ Heinenmann, Ltd.

Alice sees the White Rabbit going to his hole, to Wonderland

Curiouser and curiouser

Alice and the animals swimming in her pool of tears

rackham allice caucas-race

The caucus race crowd. Note how the Dodo is made to have human hands. I have to get back to the script, to see if anything in the text suggests the human features, but if Ill have to toss a wild guess, then its due to the Dodo’s symbolic representation. As Charles L. Dodgeson, on that golden afternoon in July 1862, made up on the spot, the story of Alice in Wonderland, he incorporated in that story parts for all listeners, as well as himself. He was the dodo.
As the story goes, Dogeson used to have a stutter, and when presenting himself, he would say – Do..Do…Dogeson, hence Dodo.
Alice and the mouse
The well dressed White Rabbit, mistaking Alice for his Mary-Ann, and sends her to fetch his fan and gloves

rackham alice catepillar
Alice receiving advice from a caterpillar

Alice shrinking after nibbling a bit of mushroom

Alice freaking out the Pigeon, perceiving her as a serpent, out to get her eggs
Alice and the frog-footman

rackham pig and pepper

Alice, the Duchess, the baby, the insane cook, and the Cheshire cat

Alice and the Pig-baby

The Cheshire cat grinning

Alice and the Cheshire cat, that’s gradually dissolving

rackham mad tea party

A mad tea party, Alice with the hatter, the march hare and the dormouse
The gardners paining the roses, getting scolded by the Queen

Alice playing Wonderland-style Croquet

The Cheshire cat trolling the Queen

The Queen’s executioner

Rackham The Queens Croquet grounds

The Queen’s Croquet Ground

The Gryphon

Alice, the Gryphon, and the Mock turtle

The Mock turtle

Who stole the tarts?

The cook

Alice awakens


  1. Hello! What do you think is the worth of this particular edition out of curiosity? I see some don’t have the edition/date on the first pages and am having a hard time telling the value. thank you!

    1. Hi Kim,
      It depends on the condition. I’d estimate it’ll be in the $150-$400 range. Good-Excellent condition.
      There are quite a few Arthur Rackham Alice in Wonderland editions. I myself have a couple, this being the nicer one.

  2. Don’t know if this is still active, but I have two additions.
    The first is that I think the three figures with the White Rabbit on the inside cover are probably “the little crowd of animals” that attend to Bill after he is ejected from the chimney, rather than the Mad Tea Party.
    The second is about the Dodo’s human hands: I think the reason for that might be because John Tenniel drew the Dodo with hands. If you look at the illustration of the Dodo presenting Alice with the thimble, you can see he has hands coming out from under his wings. I say this because there seem to be a lot of nods to Tenniel’s illustration choices (like the Ace of clubs as the executioner – he isn’t described that way in the text). Although now that I reread that chapter, the Dodo is described as having fingers.

    1. Thank you Jack, these are fantastic comments! It does make sense that these are Poor Bill’s little crowd of animals,
      as it’s clearly the scene, but I not entirely sure it’s not a sort of collage from other parts of the story.
      Regarding Tenniel, you’re absolutely right. If / when i’ll go a edit this blog one of these days, I’ll be sure to add your comments in the text body.

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