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Lewis Carroll First Edition Books

Browse our fine collection of Lewis Carroll first edition books and signed poetry including Alice in Wonderland (1871) and the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, more commonly known as Lewis Carroll, was born in 1837 and quickly proved to be a precocious child.


lewis-carroll-rare-booksThe young Charles was from an early age taken with logarithms, puzzles, conjuring, artistic and literary pursuits, all of which were to serve him well as an author both for children and adults in later years.

His enthusiasm for emerging science, art & music, as well as hobbies such as photography, along with his keen interest in social and political reform, was tempered by his sincere Christian faith, and can all be found as influences in his writing, ranging from his children’s stories to his more mature poetry, redolent with romantic conventions and a Victorian sentimentality very much of its time.


Alice’ and other first edition and rare books by Lewis Carroll

It is without question Alice in Wonderland (1871) and the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1876) that were to establish Lewis Carroll as one of the most important writers for children of all time. The true first edition of Alice in Wonderland was quickly withdrawn when the illustrator John Tenniel expressed his unhappiness at how his illustrations had come out, and now it is believed only circa 20 copies of this edition are in existence.  Both regular first editions of the Alice books have issue points that can impact on their value, as do later reworkings such as the illustrated Nursery Alice, so it is always worth talking to our specialists if you do have any Lewis Carroll rare books you are thinking of buying or selling.

Some of the related ephemeral items, such as the The Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case, are also tricky to correctly date, and the shift in value can be quite surprising as a consequence.

Other notable Lewis Carroll rare books are The Hunting of the Snark (1876), originally illustrated by Henry Holiday, which has at least three binding variations, some of which reputedly indicate they were copies to be gifted by the author. Sylvie & Bruno (1889) and Sylive & Bruno Concluded (1893) used the spirit of a fairy tale to satirise English society at the time, and it is not impossible to find these in the plain printed dust-jackets occasionally, elevating the price.

The poetry of Lewis Carroll can also be collectable; his Phantasmagoria and Other Poems (1869) in very good condition original cloth is hard to find. His works on mathematics also can be very valuable, especially where significant association copies or similar (Dodgson even has an algorithm named after him, the Dodgson condensation).  Some of his puzzle books can also be numbered among Lewis Carroll rare books, due to the risk of small parts such as counters either missing or damaged/replaced.

Signed books and autograph material by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll was a prodigious letter writer and correspondent, noting himself ‘one-third of my life seems to go in receiving letters … and the other two-thirds in answering them’. His letters, like his gift inscriptions often written in purple ink, can range in value from several hundred pounds to several thousand pounds depending on what is being discussed therein. He also signed and gifted many books, which unsurprisingly add considerable value to the books in question. Again our specialists would be happy to advise you on signed and autograph works by Dodgson, as well as Lewis Carroll rare books in general.

Later examples of rare books by Lewis Carroll

The popularity of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books remains to this day, and these titles, in particular, have enjoyed numerous reworkings, pastiches, homages and reformattings.  Illustrators & artists including Ralph Steadman, Salvador Dali, Mabel Lucie Attwell, Arthur Rackham, Marie Laurencin, Barry Moser and pop-up specialist Vojtech Kubasta, have all bent themselves to the task of interpreting these children’s classics, though for many collectors of Lewis Carroll rare books the simple line drawings of John Tenniel still remain preeminent.


Collect Lewis Carroll First Editions





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  1. Eighty-Fifth Thousand'; 8vo (185 x 130 mm); 42 illustrations by John Tenniel, mild toning, the occasional mark or spot, otherwise very good; later blue morocco gilt by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, upper cover stamped with a gilt vignette of Alice holding the baby pig, lower cover with vignette of the Cheshire Cat, spine with gilt tools of other characters, gilt dentelles comprising tiny playing-card motifs of clubs and spades, cloth end leaves and all edges gilt; spine faded to a uniform green, rear upper corner mildly bumped, otherwise a very handsome, finely bound, early edition.

  2. First edition, first impression; 8vo; 9 illustrations by Henry Holiday, including frontispiece, with 'baker' for 'banker' on p83, light toning and spotting to prelims, previous owner's signature to half-title; publisher's cream pictorial cloth, spine and extremities slightly darkened, all edges gilt, first issue of An Easter Greeting to Every Child Who Loves 'Alice' and 1928 newspaper clipping from The Times tipped in, overall a very pleasing copy.

  3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: later edition (thirty-sixth thousand), half-title, 42 wood-engraved illustrations after John Tenniel (including frontispiece), occasional mild spotting and finger-soiling but in the main, good; Through the Looking-Glass: later edition (sixty-fith thousand), half-title, 50 wood engraved illustrations after Tenniel (including frontispiece), occasional light spotting, heavier to upper prelims and half-title but thereon scarce; 2 volumes, 8vo (189 x 135 & 195 x 140 mm); modern red morocco gilt-panelled, spines with raised bands in six compartments, lettered in gilt in second and fourth compartments, gilt-stamped designs of playing cards, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare in other compartments, a very handsome set.

  4. 8vo (215 x 165 mm); sixteen colour plates (including frontispiece) and numerous engraved vignettes by John Tenniel, internally clean; modern red morocco gilt, spine with raised bands in six compartments, second and fourth compartments gilt-lettered, gilt-tooled designs of playing cards, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare in the other compartments, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers, original pictorial endpapers bound in, fine condition.

  5. First edition; 4to (22 x 17 cm); illustrated throughout with some full-page; publisher's original pictorial boards, a very good copy.



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