Maria L. Kirk – Lively Alice


One of my All-time Favorite illustrators of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, is Maria Louise Kirk, or M. L. Kirk (1860-1938). There’s a bit about her here.
I bought M. L. Kirk’s Looking Glass edition a few years ago, and was always eager to complete the set with the earlier Wonderland edition,. Recently I managed to buy one. Both aren’t in great condition, some of the color in the covers is faded, as you’ll see. Still, even as they stand, they are of my most important items in my Alice book collection.
Why do I like them so? Aside Kirk being of the earliest Alice illustrators, and probably the first American to illustrate Alice in Wonderland, her illustrations are fantastic in every way. Vibrant, full of life, every scene seems to jump out of the picture, and her Alice seems to me as a happy, strong, confident girl, walking around in a child-like Wonderland.
Kirk’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1904, followed by Through the Looking Glass out in 1905.
Maria Kirk, born in Pennsylvania, studied art at the School of Design for Women, proceeded to study in Penn. Academy of the fine Arts, and in the Art Institute of Chicago. She illustrated over 50 books. She’s mostly famous for her Alice editions, and a fantastic Pinocchio edition. On a side note, a few years ago, I was a bit frustrated by the considerable costs of collecting Alice in Wonderland books, especially the early, and rare ones, that can go for quite a bit. For a little bit, I toyed with the idea of crossing over to a different book, something not that many people are collecting, and that book was Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi. I love Pinocchio, and there are amazing antique Pinocchio’s out there. Unlike the seemingly bottomless ocean, that is collecting Alice, Pinocchio has a finite number of editions, certainly the antique ones. So, I started off with Maria Kirk’s Pinocchio. Got an ok copy of her 1st edition on eBay, just to meditate on the concept of collecting it, while reading the book itself. I guess that was the turning point back to Alice, for me. The original text is naturally in Italian, which I do not speak, I can only assume a lot is lost in any translation. While the book itself is fantastic, I didn’t find myself connecting to it as much as Carroll’s text does, and the stories of Dodgson and the Liddell’s, and Tenniel, and the rest of them. But here I go rambling on, when all I wanted was to say that I also had Kirk’s Pinocchio, and that it’s a wonderful book too.
Let’s dive into the books. I post here illustrations of both Alice’s,without Tenniel’s accompanied ones. Illustrations are placed by the same order they appear in the books.

Maria Louise Kirk, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Front hardcover, First edition 1904.

Hardcover spine

Alice and the pig baby (illustration positioned before title page)*.
*On a side note – What’s up with placing an illustration that goes somewhere deep in the book, on the first page. It would make sense to place something from the beginning of the book, just like Gwynedd Hudson does, with Alice and Dinah, but why take an illustration of a scene from the middle of the book, and place it at the beginning?

This is a sample of the nicely printed quote, on the protective sheet over the illustrations.

Title page , printed in New York, by Frederick A. Stokes company publishers.

Alice falling down the rabbit’s hole.

Alice crying, and the Rabbit drops his fan and gloves

Alice in the Caucus race. I love Kirk’s depiction of this scene, where everyone is seemingly laughing and having fun with it.

Alice and the Caterpillar

Alice, the Duchess, the Cook, and the Cheshire cat

Alice and the Cheshire cat

A Mad tea party

Alice and the Gardeners, painting the roses

Alice and the Red Queen, with her entourage

Alice playing croquet, with a Flamingo and an Hedgehog

Alice, the Gryphon, and the Mock Turtle. This illustration is the last in Kirk’s Wonderland.

Through the Looking Glass. Hard cover. 1905

Spine of Hard cover.

Queen Alice ❤️

Title page with publisher’s details.

Alice goes through the Looking Glass, and runs down the stairs to the Garden

Alice and the Red Queen by the talking flowers

The Red Queen rushing Alice, as the White Queen’s pawn.
The Queen propped her up against a tree, and said kindly, “You may rest a little now.”

Alice dancing with Tweedledee and Tweedledum

The Tweedle twins performance

Alice and the Sheep store lady. Beautiful illustration of a nightmarish scene, when anything Alice reaches for, disappears to a different shelf.

Humpty Dumpty and Alice

Alice with the Lion and the Unicorn, and the King. Slicing the cake.

Alice helping the White Knight

Chaos at the dinner table, before waking up. Which Dreamed it?

The End


  1. I would like to thank you for your information on Alice in Wonderland. You have been a god send to anyone collecting Alice and I thought I should express my thanks. Thank you.

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