To mark the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and to celebrate Stuart and Mimi Rose's 2014 gift to the University of Dayton —a 1969 special edition with illustrations by Salvador Dalí — University Libraries will display Dalí’s 12 colorful, whimsical and widely interpreted illustrations May 30–Aug. 16 in Roesch Library’s first-floor gallery.

Dalí’s illustrations, which all depict Alice as a girl skipping rope, contain many of the Spanish Surrealist’s signature touches — a melting watch, butterflies, bifurcated crutches and objects out of proportion to one another. They were printed using the heliogravure process, in which the image is etched upon a copper plate and then placed on a hand-turned press, where special inks transfer to dampened etching paper to produce the image. Printed by hand in limited quantities, each is considered an original.

“The pairing of a nineteenth-century logician’s tale with a master of twentieth-century modern art might seem, by turns, shocking and a stroke of genius,” said Margaret M. Strain, professor of English. “That is precisely what makes this rare collaboration so remarkable. What links Carroll and Dalí in the 1969 edition is their shared fascination with the fantastic, the dream world, and their respective cultures’ reliance on space and time to order human experience. What better way to turn staid convention topsy-turvy than envision the world through the imagination of a child? And who better than a Surrealist to express the world of unconscious desire, counter-logics and alternate realities that Alice encounters on her journey?”

The display will be open during regular library hours.

The idea for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is said to have come about in July 1862 on a picnic the author took with a friend’s three daughters, one of whom was Alice Liddell, then 10. At Alice’s request, Carroll, whose given name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, compiled the story into a hand-bound, author-illustrated manuscript in 1864 and presented it to her as a gift. It was published the next year with illustrations by the English cartoonist and illustrator John Tenniel.

Dayton-area businessman and rare-book collector Stuart Rose donated the Dalí edition to the University in November 2014 at the closing event for Imprints and Impressions: Milestones in Human Progress, an exhibition of 50 works from his collection. View the book’s commentary and a selection of images here >>>

The display also will include a recently acquired first American edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in New York by Appleton in 1866. It contains the original sheets from the 1865 London first printing — an issue of 2,000 copies rejected by the author because Tenniel was dissatisfied with the printing. Carroll gave his permission for these sheets to be used in the American edition.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland continues to be a source of creative inspiration: The project 150Alice has invited works by 150 noted illustrators from around the world for a sesquicentennial edition. 

- Maureen Schlangan, E-scholarship and communications manager

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