Indiana University Bloomington


Alice in Wonderland Game
The Game of Alice in Wonderland. Selchow & Righter, 1882.

The unique publishing history of the 1865 first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is essential in understanding the collecting history of the book. The Reverend Charles L. Dodgson, better known as author Lewis Carroll, wrote the story for the daughter of a family friend. After financing the printing and publishing of 2,000 copies of the story out of his own pocket in 1864, the author and his illustrator, artist John Tenniel, felt that the inking of the text and the reproduction of the artwork did not measure up to their standards.

Although Dodgson had presented 48 copies to friends and family, the remaining unbound sheets were sold to an American publisher, and 2,000 improved copies were set to be published by Macmillan, also to be paid for by the author.

Today, 23 copies of the 1865 edition of Alice are known to have survived.

The Lilly Library owns a copy of the suppressed 1865 edition, as well as the first American edition and the first reprinted British edition, both dated 1866. The illustration of the 'Mad' Hatter (below) is from the 1865 edition of Alice.

Reprinted over 98,000 times by 1932, it is one of the most well–known and beloved stories in the history of children's literature.

A matching game, The Game of Alice in Wonderland consists of 52 cards: twenty cards numbered 1–20, and thirty–two cards, numbered 1–16 in pairs, with images of the Wonderland characters.

Pictured below are images of cards from the game and illustrations from various editions of Alice in Wonderland in the Lilly Library collection.

White Rabbit Mad Hatter cards

Tea Party
"The 'Mad' Hatter" Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. London: Macmillan, 1865.

The 'Mad' Hatter recites his nonsense poem "Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat" at the Tea Party.

The White Rabbit
"The White Rabbit" Emily Prime Delafield, illustrated by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. Alice in Wonderland: A Play: Compiled from Lewis Carroll's Stories Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1898.

Based on Carroll's book, this edition of the story is notable for its Arts and Crafts decoration and production. As stated on the title page, it was originally presented for the benefit of The Society of Decorative Arts.

Dodo Mock Turtle cards

The Caucus Race
"The Caucus Race" Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Newell. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Harper & Bros., 1901.

"First it marked out a race–course, in a sort of circle, ('the exact shape doesn't matter,' it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no 'One, two, three, and away,' but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out 'The race is over!' and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, 'But who has won?'"

Illustrated by Peter Sheaf Newell, this is one of the first editions of Alice in Wonderland departing from John Tenniel's classic drawings.

Curiouser examples of playing cards for the Alice in Wonderland Game

Puppy and Cheshire Cat cards
Alice Flamingo and Caterpillar cards

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Last Updated: 1 June 2009
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