Charles Pears & Thomas H. Robinson – Poor Alice


Poor, poor Alice, and poor, poor me. This edition was “loved” by some wretched child about a 100 years ago. Few pages were painted over, and overall, it’s in poor condition. I’ll get a finer copy one of these days, but for the purpose of this post, we’ll have to do with this one.
From a collector’s point of view, collecting is either going for quality, or quantity. I know most would choose quality, but unless you have the funds to support it, and as this particular hobby is expensive, I used to go for editions that are in ok-poor condition, just for the sake of having them. Now days I try to get good-fine copies. Anyway, here I go rambling on, and also apologizing for the state of this one. I did clean up about 3 illustrations from the paint added by a previous owner. I’m sorry Pears & Robinson, you deserve a better presentation.

This book is a great contender for the weirdest Alice in Wonderland cover award. Is that Alice on the cover? no. Is it the White Rabbit? no, no. It’s a woman with a tennis racket, holding a couple of balls, about to serve one. Why? oh God knows. I imagine a bored publisher, sitting behind a large desk, when an under paid employee comes over, and says, Sir, what should we put on the cover of the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ book? without bothering to look up, the publisher grunts , ‘just use that board with the Tennis lady, it’ll do’. The rest is history.
Does anyone have an idea? Am I missing out on any tennis match in the book? Isn’t it strange?*

*I’m writing this after digging a bit into an Alice-Tennis connection. Well, as it happens there is one. How mad is that? As a hatter!
After watching a tennis tournament, Charles L. Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, published a piece in 1883, suggesting rules for tennis tournament. Here’s a great blog post about it.

Lewis Carroll - Tennis Rules - Charles Dodgson

Charles Pears created all the colored illustrations, while Thomas Heath Robinson, created the black and white ones. Why this match of illustrators? were they aware of it? I haven’t a clue. Again, a publication with two different Alice’s. I am aware of other Alice editions with their works placed together. As usual, some chaos exists in the stories behind the publications.

Charles Pears (1873-1958) was a British artist, mostly recognized for his marine-related works of art. Read more about him here.
Thomas Heath Robinson (1869–1954), came from a family of artists, and illustrated many books and magazines. Read about him here.

Let’s dive into the book. Images are placed in order of appearance in the book.

Contender for the weirdest ‘Alice in Wonderland’ book cover award

Charles Pears made all the colored illustrations – This one of Alice about to wake up.

Alice and the Caterpillar, title page with publishers details – London & Glasgow, Collins’ Clear-Type Press

All the Black and white illustrations are by T. H. Robinson. This is Alice and her sister

Alice going after the White Rabbit

Alice falling down the rabbit’s hole

Drink me

The mouse’s tale

Alice and the Rabbit

Alice swimming with the mouse

Alice handing candy to the animals

Alice by the White Rabbit’s door

White Rabbit and Bill

Alice and the Puppy

Alice and the Caterpillar

You are Old Father William – 1

You are Old Father William – 2

Alice and the Pigeon

Alice and the Footman

Pig and pepper

Alice and the pig baby

A Mad Tea Party – Charles Pears

A Mad Tea Party – TH Robinson

The Mad Hatter

Alice on the Croquet ground with the Queen and King

The gardeners painting the roses

The Knave of Hearts

Alice and the flamingo

The Queen and entourage

Alice and the Duchess

Alice and the Gryphon

The Mock Turtle’s story

The trial

The Knave stole the tarts

The Mad Hatter in the trial

~ the End ~


  1. I like this Alice edition. Regarding the cover I think the woman we can see is actually Alice, not from this edition though. Her hat reminds me of John R. Neill Alice. As for why she is playing tennis, it might be because this sport was born in victorian England; she is also wearing typical victorian female tennis player uniform. It might be unrelated to the story, but still it represents an activity Alice could do before her sister took her to the riverbank.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *