The Art of Book Design: Alice In Wonderland

I couldn’t make up my mind about the Alice in Wonderland books. I like several of the early edition covers and they’re all striking in very different ways. I just couldn’t choose one over the other so today I’m showcasing three cover designs for this classic book.

Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland – Through the Looking Glass. London, A. Wessels, Co.1900. –-source Blanche McManus

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were first published in 1899 as separate books. The cover pictured above is from the first edition of the combined stories. The attention to detail in the stitched cloth cover is amazing. I want to hold this one in my hand and let my fingers wander all over that gorgeous design.

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. USA, Harper, 1901 –– source Peter Newell

This cover from 1901 might be my favourite. I love the small gilded Alice boldly pointing into a vast expanse of open space, ready to write her own adventure.

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. Cassells, 1907. –source Charles Robinson

This Alice is full of whimsy and charm. She walks on a cobbled path that might be made of bubbles and she’s surrounded by stars and swirls and leaves made of lace.  The overall design has an airy, magical quality to it. I also like the gold stitching on indigo cloth. It reminds me of fireworks against a night sky.


If you’re interested there are a few other early cover designs to see at the link below.

From: Google Groups, The Illustrated Lewis Carroll


  1. ridana says

    My copy is the Junior Deluxe edition, from the 60s? I don’t know since there’s no copyright on it anywhere.

    While I was nosing around to see if I could get a handle on the date, I ran across this website that was weirdly upsetting to me. They’re selling vintage books, not by author or genre or anything having to do with the content at all, but by the color of the binding, as a decorative flourish to show how worldly you are, I guess. About 10-12 books are gathered with a string and sold by the foot. smh

    I guess what upsets me is that aside from being pretentious, and disrespectful of books, it means someone is buying up mass libraries of books at estate sales and such and sorting them by color and height (possibly also checking to make sure they didn’t snag a valuable first edition or something). This is just so bizarre to me I can’t even. I had no idea this was even a thing. I suppose it’s better than dumping them in the shredder, but it hurts nevertheless.

  2. rq says

    Alice in Wonderland book covers are all special. It’s one of my favourite books, bits and pieces (beyond the usual) have stayed with me, and I love the vague possible connection to difficult mathematics. I’ve even bought different editions for the different art, and I will forever be grateful to the sibling who gifted me the version illustrated by Dali.
    Anyway, I can’t choose any of these, they’re all wonderful, though perhaps the second holds the most of mysterious potential.

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