Blanche McManus – Red, Green, Black & White

Blanche McManus - Alice in Wonderland - Cover

I love Blanche McManus’s Alice. I think her illustrations are very special. Sadly, I can’t find a photo of her anywhere. I guess back in the late 19th century, selfies weren’t as popular.
Published on 1899 by A. Wessels company. The Blanche McManus edition, is one of the very few illustrators, illustrating Alice, in Dodgeson’s lifetime.

How beautiful is this book? I mean, just look at this cover:
Blanche McManus - Alice in Wonderland - Cover
We see Alice, looking at Wonderland, that’s seemingly an old European fairytale view of a place.
We also see the Cheshire cat at the top, with the white rabbit and pig, beside her.
Below is the first page. On the left, Alice falling through the rabbit’s hole to Wonderland. McManus pays attention to all the things Carroll listed in his description of Alice falling down the well.

From Alice in Wonderland, chapter 1, Down the Rabbit-Hole:
…”…she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves; here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labeled “ORANGE MARMALADE”.”
Only now I am noticing that the pictures on the well’s wall, are of the Mad Tea Party trio (hatter, dormouse, and march-hare), who’s on the other framed pictures there?

Pool of tears chapter, ‘Drink me’ illustration.
McManus’s Alice is a sign of her time. Late 19th Cen. attire, all puffed up, ribbons, puffy sleeves.

Advice from a Caterpillar. I love that McManus made the caterpillar the most caterpillarish possible.

The Cheshire cat. I like McManus’s technic here, in her effort to show the cat’s disappearing powers.

A Mad tea party
Part of what I love about the McManus editions, is the printing colors. Black, green and red. That’s it. I guess its the best they could do back then, not that there aren’t richly colored books, but perhaps they were printed differently (paste down illustrations?).
Relying just on these 3 colors creates a wonderful antique vibe to the book.

The Lobster Quadrille

Through the Looking Glass

Looking glass house

Wool and Water

Humpty Dumpty

The Lion and the Unicorn

Queen Alice

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