Artist of Wonderland: The Life, Political Cartoons, and Illustrations of Tenniel

By Frankie Morris

Extensively illustrated, this is an absorbing and insightful study of the life and work of John Tenniel, the Victorian political cartoonist who illustrated Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ books.

ISBN: 9780718894603


Best known today as the illustrator of Lewis Carrol’s Alice books, John Tenniel was one of the Victorian era’s chief political cartoonists. This extensively illustrated book is the first to draw almost exclusively on primary sources in family collections, public archives and other depositories. Frankie Morris examines Tenniel’s life and work, producing a book that is not only a definitive resource for scholars and collectors but one that can be easily enjoyed by everyone interested in Victorian life and art, social history, journalism and political cartoon, and illustrated books.

From his sunny childhood and early enthusiasm for sports, theatre and medievalism to his flirtation with high art and fifty-year relationship with the London journal Punch, Tenniel is shown to have been the sociable and urbane humourist revealed in his drawings. There follow three parts on Tenniel’s work, in which Morris examines Tenniel’s methods and his earlier book illustrations, the Alice pictures, and the Punch cartoons. She addresses such little-understood subjects as Tenniel’s drawings on wood, his relationship with Lewis Carroll, and his controversial Irish cartoons, and examines the salient characteristics of his approximately 4,500 drawings for books and journals. The definitive study of both the man and the work, Artist of Wonderland gives an unprecedented view of the cartoonist who mythologised the world for generations of Britons.

Additional information

Dimensions254 × 178 mm
Illustrations205 b&w


Trade InformationLPOD

About the Author

The art historian and artist Frankie Morris is the author of numerous articles on the work of John Tenniel.


List of Illustrations

Part I: Biographical Sketch
1. Toast of the Evening, 1901
2. A Pretty Place, 1776-1840
3. “Jan,” 1840-1850
4. “Jackides,” 1850-1862
5. On Gen’l Punch’s “Staff,” 1862-1874
6. Good Sir John! 1874-1893
7. Exeunt, 1893-1901
8. Out of the “Show” Altogether, 1901-1914
9. Postscript

Part II: Methods and Modes
10. Drawing on Wood
11. Before Alice

Part III: Enchanting Alice
12. The Draftsman and the Don
13. Harlequin Alice
14. Alice in the Land of Toys
15. The Grotesque Alice
16. Alice and the Gothic Taste
17. Alice and Social Caricature

Part IV. The Punch Cartoons
18. The Pride of Mr. Punch
19. As for Political Opinions
20. King Demos
21. Paddy and Hibernia
22. The Dis-United States

Appendix: A Guide to Tenniel’s Unidentified Punch Work



Endorsements and Reviews

Morris has almost certainly looked at every bit of art (extant and available) that Tenniel produced. Many of the theses advanced along the way are fresh and in some cases unprecedented. … The book can claim to be the standard work on Tenniel.
Richard Maxwell, Yale University, editor of The Victorian Illustrated Book

Wonderfully, Dr Frankie Morris has written a fine, true and highly readable biography of Sir John Tenniel, the great nineteenth-century cartoonist. Here for the first time, we have a splendidly serviceable analysis, well illustrated, of Tenniel’s cartoons as instruments of political persuasion. Morris also offers many fresh and surprising insights into the Tenniel-Carroll relationship and the Alice illustrations.
Draper Hill, author of Mr Gillray, The Caricaturist