Sunday 23 December 2012

The Wasp in the Wig

An illustration from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, Artists'Choice edition, 2011 ('Specials' Edition).

Lewis Carroll was urged to drop this chapter in which a wasp in a wig appears. This episode only turned up again when a pile of galley proofs was auctioned at a sale of manuscripts in 1974, at Sotheby’s. The Lewis Carroll Society later published ‘The Wasp in the Wig’ in 1977. When John Tenniel was illustrating Through the Looking-Glass in 1870 he wrote to Lewis Carroll, saying:

‘Don’t think me brutal, but I am bound to say that the ‘wasp’ chapter does not interest me in the least, & I can’t see my way to a picture.
 If you want to shorten the book, I can’t help thinking – with all submission – that there is your opportunity’.

Tenniel also wrote: ‘A wasp in a wig is altogether beyond the appliances of art’.
Well, there is a challenge I thought, so here is a wasp in a wig. At one time we thought of including this chapter in the book but upon reflection we agreed with Tenniel. However we have included an illustration of the wasp as a print in the 'Specials' edition.

(Quotations from Collingwood, The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll, T. Fisher Unwin, 1898, pp 146-9)

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