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Banned! — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

fish-frog mouse

“Animals should not use human language.”

Alice’s adventures in wonderland…
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
London: Macmillan and Co., 1866
First published edition

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s now-famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was intended solely for Alice Liddell and her two sisters. Dodgson made the story up to entertain the bored children during a series of outings. Alice asked Dodgson to write the story down. Dodgson presented his manuscript to Alice as a Christmas gift in 1864. Friend and novelist Henry Kingsley saw the manuscript and encouraged Dodgson to publish the book. Dodgson consulted another friend, George MacDonald.

Macdonald, a popular writer of fairy tales and fantasy, read the story to his children, who thoroughly approved of it. Macdonald’s six-year-old son is said to have declared that he “wished there were 60,000 copies of it.”

Dodgson prepared the manuscript for publication, expanding the original 18,000 word story to 35,000 words and adding, among other characters and scenes, the Cheshire Cat and “A Mad-Tea Party.”

The first edition included forty-two illustrations by John Tenniel, a cartoonist for the magazine, Punch. The edition of 4,000 copies was released, under the pseudonym “Lewis Carroll,” in time for Christmas in December of 1865, carrying 1866 as the publication date. However, Tenniel and Dodgson disapproved of the quality of the printing. This first printed edition was removed from the market. A few of these printings made their way to the United States.

The book was reprinted and re-released in 1866. By 1884, 100,000 copies had been printed.

In 1931, the work was banned in China by the Governor of Hunan Province on the grounds that “Animals should not use human language, and…it [is] disastrous to put animals and human beings on the same level.”

University of Utah copy is in original gilt pictorial cloth bindings. The inside front boards bear two bookplates, one of Harvard scholar Cyril Bathurst Judge (b. 1888), the other of book collector Michael Sharpe. Anonymous donation facilitated by Michael Thompson of Michael R. Thompson Rare Books, Los Angeles, California.

View the original article on the OpenBook Blog

  • Dave Morrison
    Posted at 23:04h, 29 September Reply

    One of my all-time favorites! In high school, a friend of mine who was bilingual in French and English and myself made translations of the poem “Jabberwocky” into French and Latin, which were then published in the high school’s literary magazine.

    “Erat brilligus, et slithy toves,
    Per wabum gyrabant et gimbalent..”


  • Pingback:29 Fun and Interesting Facts About Writing and Literature - Commaful Storytelling Blog
    Posted at 10:00h, 23 October Reply

    […] But China banned the book for an entirely different reason: its talking animals. They believe that animals and humans shouldn’t be placed on the same level, which includes the former speaking human […]

  • Tarly
    Posted at 07:52h, 06 September Reply

    Hmmmm….but there’s no such province called Huan in China back then or now. Interesting tho.

    • Marriott Library
      Posted at 18:58h, 06 September Reply

      Good catch. We’ve updated it. Thank you!

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