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Best known today as the illustrator for Lewis Carroll's Alice books, John Tenniel was the Victorian era's chief political cartoonist. 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 ...
Best known today as the illustrator for Lewis Carroll's Alice books, John Tenniel was the Victorian era's chief political cartoonist. 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 cartoons, and illustrated books.
In the first part of the book, Morris looks at Tenniel the man. From his sunny childhood and early enthusiasm for sports, theater, and medievalism to his flirtation with high art and fifty years in the close brotherhood of the London journal Punch, Tenniel is shown to have been the sociable and urbane humorist revealed in his drawings. According to his countrymen Tenniel's work—and his Punch cartoons in particular—would embody for future historians the "trend and character" of Victorian thought and life. Morris assesses to what extent that prediction has been fulfilled.
The biography is followed by three parts on Tenniel's work, consisting of thirteen independent essays in which the author 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 inquires into the salient characteristics of his approximately 4,500 drawings for books and journals.
For lovers of Alice, Morris offers six chapters on Tenniel's work for Carroll. These reveal demonstrable links with Christmas pantomimes, Punch and Judy shows, nursery toys, magic lanterns, nineteenth-century grotesques, Gothic revivalism, and social caricatures.
In five probing studies, Morris demonstrates how Tenniel's cartoons depicted the key political questions of his day--the Eastern Question, which brought into opposition the great rivals Gladstone and Disraeli; trade-union issues and franchise reform; Irish resistance to British rule; and Lincoln and the American Civil War—examining their assumptions, devices, and evolving strategies. An appendix identifies some 1,500 unmonogrammed drawings done by Tenniel in his first twelve years on Punch.
The definitive study of both the man and the work, Artist of Wonderland gives an unprecedented view of the cartoonist whose adroit adaptations of elements from literature, art, and above all the stage succeeded in mythologizing the world for generations of Britons.
Not for sale in the British Commonwealth except Canada
Available in the British Commonwealth, excluding Canada, from Lutterworth Press
University of Virginia Press
Posted January 22, 2009
The illustrated biography of one of England's major 19th-century illustrators has about 180 of Tenniel's illustrations along with 30-40 other related ones. This outstanding, comprehensive, definitive work covers both Tenniel's biography and his artistic career. The career focuses on the two major factors of Tenniel's classic illustrations for various editions of 'Alice in Wonderland' and his political and social cartoons appearing in 'Punch' magazine for decades. The illustrator's style, caricature, and perspective are discussed in relation to political and social events and issues of the time, including Tenniel being caught up in the social controversy and legal proceedings surrounding 'Punch' articles allegedly denigrating the Irish and Tenniel's related illustrations often picturing Irish men with simian-like or other animal-like features. But for the most part, Tenniel was a popular and successful artist because he portrayed with unmatched, unfailing skill and ingenuity England's image of itself as the world's leading colonial and commercial power with an enviable domestic political system. This included critical cartoons of some of England's policies and practices and leading politicians which were a part of the modern-day English political and media tradition. Tenniel's position among the handful of England's top illustrators is secure, and does not have to be supported by argument or claims. The art historian and Tenniel authority Morris mainly fills in the ground for Tenniel's acknowledged pedestal. For collectors, besides the numerous illustrations in the text tracing Tenniel's career and exemplifying his imagination and versatility, there is an appendix 'A Guide to Tenniel's Unidentified Punch Work.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.