of the Alice
books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
and Through the Looking Glass
. He never met the real Alice Liddell
, so his Alice is not based directly on her looks. I don't know whether he ever saw Lewis Carroll
's photographs of her.
He was born in London on 28 February 1820, and died in London on 25 February 1914, not a bad print run.
He was a very well known illustrator and satirist in his own day, and a leading contributor to Punch magazine, but it's his Alice pictures that will live forever. I find it hard to accept how anyone else can bring themselves to do new illustrations. His are simply perfect for it, and for most of us, embossed ineradicably into our memories from early childhood.
The respectable White Rabbit in his waistcoat, long-necked Alice startled after drinking her latest buttery potion, the Dodo solemnly presenting the thimble, Bill the lizard shooting out of the chimney, the caterpillar with his hookah, Father William balancing an eel on his nose, the Frog footman and the Fish footman rigged up in their finery, the monstrous Duchess...
He got the Duchess from a stained glass window somewhere in England, I wish I could remember where. I've seen it. Was it Fairford? Up on one side of the church, there she is, the grotesque figure we know and... well, know. A comic picture from hundreds of years ago, and now pointed out as the original for the Duchess.
The fading Cheshire Cat, the Hatter with his huge hat marked "10/6", the noble and pathetic White Knight, Alice rowing the sheep out of her shop, the Walrus and the Carpenter weeping, the Jabberwocky garden... on and on the familiar images go, brilliantly realised by Sir John Tenniel, and I'm doing him injustice with every one I fail to mention.
In his long life and career he contributed over 2000 cartoons to Punch, which he joined in 1850 (or 1851?), became chief cartoonist for in 1864, and served until 1901. He was knighted in 1893.
One 1890 cartoon featured Bismarck as the pilot of a ship, being dropped ashore by the Kaiser. The caption "Dropping the pilot" became well-known as a memorable phrase.
Tenniel was the son of a famous dancing master, and was self-taught in art. In 1845 he was chosen as one of the artists to decorate the new Houses of Parliament; his contribution was a fresco of Dryden's "St Cecilia". Before Alice came out in 1865, books he had illustrated included Lalla Rookh by Thomas Moore, and Aesop's Fables.