Alice on the Train

Bycatch (but not mine):

[left]: John Tenniel: Alice on the Train (1872)
[right]: Augustus Leopold Egg: The Travelling Companions (1862)

I found the comparison in If it is a pictorial reference at all, it might be a nice pun by Tenniel, but not as challenging as Henry Holiday’s conundrums.

Playing with the work of other artists could have been fun for John Tenniel too. (Of course another reason for such similarities always could be, that Holiday and Egg both referred an image by a third artist.)

2017-09-22, updated: 2021-05-24


Two different objects can have similarities which might indicate that the objects are related. But the objects are not necessarily similar.

(1) In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the mad hatter asks: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?” The answer seems to be simple: A raven is like a writing desk if you select a category as a set of properties, from which you can pick at least one property which both objects have in common. Then, with regard to that category, you can claim that the raven and the writing desk are similar: The communist Lenin has a nose, Joe Biden has a nose. Therefore Joe Biden is a communist. That’s how you can make almost anyththing similar to everything, even though the raven probably would not agree to be used as a writing desk. The bird might argue that things which have similar things in common are not necessarily similar things. Ravens are smart. The raven is like a writing-desk because the hatter is mad.
        However, artists can make things similar. if the nose of a face has been flipped upwards down and after that nose job looks like the nose of another face, then you can assume that the nose flipping artist wanted to give you a hint that his illustration is a reference to another illustration from which he borrowed that nose. Henry Holiday had the intention to make the nose of the face in his illustration quite similar to the face in the print to which he referred. (However, the artist is dead. Roland Barthes probably would not like my reckonings about Holiday’s intentions.)
※ Left: Detail. The Banker after his encounter with the Bandersnatch, depicted in Henry Holiday‘s illustration (woodcut by Joseph Swain) to the chapter The Banker’s Fate in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.
※ Right: Slightly horizontally compressed rendering of a detail of The Imagebreakers (1566-1568, aka Allegory of Iconoclasm), an etching by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder.

(2) There are incidental similarities. Some of them are accidental similarities. They look similar, but were not intended to be similar. In my mad hunt for similarities between Henry Holiday’s Snark illustrations and the works of other artists, I took a white spot in Henry Holiday’s illustration and William Sidney Mount’s painting as evidence for Henry Holiday’s intention to make his depiction of the Banker look similar to that painting. But the spot was almost too easy to spot, so I asked Ian Morimer to help me. He checked prints which he made using the original wood block (not the electrotypes). There was no white spot. It turned out that the white spot in the Holiday’s Snark illustration is an error. The flaw perhaps sneaked into the picture when the electrotypes were made.

※ Left: Detail from an illustration by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll’s tragicomedy The Hunting of the Snark. I marked five possible references by Henry Holiday to a painting by William Sidney Mount. The sixth one (marked with a yellow circle) is an unintented similarity.
※ Right: William Sidney Mount’s painting The Bone Player (1856) in mirror view.

(3) Some similarities were clearly intended to be similar.
This one is quite unobtrusive.

※ Left: Detail from an illustration by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark depicting the Broker (upper left corner).
※ Right: Detail from an unknown artist: Edward VI and the Pope, a Tudor anti-papal allegory of reformation (16th century).

(4) Whether intentional or incidental, some similarities just help to use the face of Yoda’s look-alike without having to worry about any copyright.

2021-04-09, update: 2021-05-23

The Mathematical World of C.L. Dodgson

On voting:

2019-10-22: Below you find text (2018-05-13) moved from to this blog article.

Carroll/Dodgson tried to fight against apodictic assertiveness and oversimplification not only by means of nonsense poetry but also by means of mathematics. He expected decisions to have a solid base – like fair voting:

One small part of Dodgson’s work, though, has impressed social scientists: his analysis of the mathematics of voting. His interest in the topic was sparked by the deliberations of his colleagues at Christ Church over such matters as how to choose a new belfry. Dodgson’s pamphlets on voting were largely ignored until 1958, when a British economist, Duncan Black, noticed that there had been nothing so good on the topic since just after the French Revolution., 2009

Ostensibly, [Dodgson] was pondering the best way for the governing body of Christ Church, Oxford, where he was a tutor in mathematics, to decide on the design for a controversial belfry, and to pick new members of the college. […] For college elections, Dodgson first proposed a version of Borda’s method, and also a version of Condorcet’s (though he appears not to have known about Borda’s and Condorcet’s work). Later, he developed an interest in politics beyond the walls of Christ Church, and, in the eighteen-eighties, he tried to find ways to secure equitable representation in Parliament for minorities., 2010

Dodgson’s method of taking votes on more than two issues (1876) attempts to find winners in case initially there is no winner. The method was applied at Christ Church college for a small number of candidates. However, for large lists of choices, the rearranging of candidates (until a winner is found) requires a computing power which surely was not available then. And in 2006 it still was a challenge (see McCabe-Dansted below).

2019-10-22, updated: 2021-05-17

My 1st Snark Trophy

I entered the Snark hunting grounds in December 2008. could give you an idea where I was in 2010.

The image shows illustrations by Henry Holiday (from The Hunting of the Snark, 1876) and Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (Allegory of Iconoclasts, aka The Image Breakers, around 1567): In the “mouth” of Gheeraerts’ “head” a praying priest is depicted. The shape of the priest also is visible in the “mouth” of Holiday’s vanishing “Baker”.

There is more — with acknowledgments to Mahendra Singh, to John Tufail and to the Internet.

And there are more big heads.

Articles in this blog about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing.

2017-08-28, updated: 2021-05-02

Knight Letter № 100

In July 2018, the members of the LCSNA (Lewis Carroll Society of North America) received the 100th Knight Letter.

Also in this issue, Goetz Kluge makes the case that a seventeenth-century engraving may have influenced Henry Holiday’s last illustration for The Hunting of the Snark. Goetz’s excellent blog about all things Snark is at

Preface to the Knight Letter № 100, LCSNA, 2018

On pages 55~56 you find a few lines which I wrote about the Baker and Thomas Cranmer in The Hunting of the Snark.

There also is an accompanying web page.
In the end, the Baker met the Boojum. As an allusion to Thomas Cranmer, the hero in Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy had been named “Baker” and also got some “hot” nicknames. Carroll went to the limits of black humor: The Baker got baked.

Incidentally, in parallel to my little note (p. 55~56 in the Knight Letter № 100) on the Baker’s hot names and on Henry Holiday’s pictorial reference to Thomas Cranmer’s burning, a paper «Life, Eternity and Everything, Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll» suggesting textual references from The Hunting of the Snark to Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles has been published in The Carrollian (July 2018, № 31, p.25~41), a journal of the Lewis Carroll Society in the UK. The author, Karen Gardiner, is an Anglican priest. She also addresses the objections of Revd. C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) against the dogma addressed by Article № 42 of Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles.

Angus MacIntyre (1994), myself (2010, 2015, 2015), Mary Hibbs (2017), as well as Karen Gardiner (2018), we all independently from each other suggested that there are such references to Thomas Cranmer and his Forty-Two Articles (the Baker’s forty-two boxes). We arrived there coming from different starting points and different backgrounds. As for me, I initially just looked for Lewis Carroll’s (C.L. Dodgson’s) textual references as guidance for finding pictorial references in Henry Holiday’s illustrations.

Twitter | Reddit | Seven Coats | 42 Boxes


PS: A friend told me that the caterpillar (here without hookah) on the front page of the 100th Knight Letter is a Hickory Horned Devil.

2018-07-28, updated 2021-01-05

From Horses to Playful Weeds

※ [top left]: Illustration to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876) by Henry Holiday: The Vanishing (detail from lower left side depicting some weeds which seem to have some fun with each other)
※ [top right]: John Martin: The Bard (ca. 1817, detail from lower left side, retinex filtered and vectorized, then slightly horizontally compressed)

overview | Twitter

2018-02-17, updated: 2021-04-28

Tree of Life

In this image, Charles Darwin’s tree of life sketch of the evolutionary tree (c. July 1837, Notebook B, 1837-1838, page 36) is compared to a “weed” in the lower left corner of Holiday’s illustration.

To my knowledge, the earliest publishing of a facsimile from Darwin’s hand drawing occurred in the 20th century. A “tree” was published in Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. But that was an image arranged by a typographer, not Darwin’s sketch from his Notebook B. Darwin did not keep his notebook B secret after the publication of On the Origin of Species, but I do not know of any presentation of his sketch before 1876. Thus, the resemblance between the “weed” and Darwin’s evolutionary tree probably may be purely incidental.

Are any earlier publishing dates for facsimile reproductions of his drawing known before 1876? Could Darwin’s supporters (probably not Darwin himself) have used his sketch for promoting The Descent of Man in 1871?

I am searching the earliest publishing date of that image e.g. in newspapers, magazines, books etc. Can you give me any hints?

In the illustration, there is no clear resemblance between Darwin and the Banker, who, however, is carrying a tuning fork. On his expedition with the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin used such an instrument for experiments with spiders.


2018-12-09, updated: 2021-04-24

There is more which went into Holiday’s illustration.

On Borrowing

One of the surest tests [of a poet’s superiority or inferiority] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

T. S. Eliot, p. 114 in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1920

Likewise, a good illustrator welds the theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different and sometimes even funnier than that from which it is torn.

And Lewis Carroll may have borrowed from Thomas Gray.


All art is infested by other art.

(Leo Steinberg, in Art about Art, 1979)


Gustave Doré was an inspired master thief too:Segments from:
※ Plate I (mirror view) of Gustave Doré’s illustrations to Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1863),
※ Matthias Grünewald’s Temptation of St Anthony (c. between 1512 and 1516, a panel of the Isenheim Altarpiece, now located at Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, France).

The borrowing never ends:

2018-02-18, update: 2021-04-21

Monstrous Things from Walls

The monsters already were there. But what did Gustave Doré see in the sky in Matthias Grünewald’s painting?

Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colours. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys and hills, in various ways. Also you can see various battles, and lively postures of strange figures, expressions on faces, costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form. This happens on such walls and varicoloured stones, (which act) like the sound of bells, in whose peeling you can find every name and word that you can imagine.
        Do not despise my opinion, when I remind you that it should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or the ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which, if you consider them well, you may find really marvelous ideas. The mind of the painter is stimulated to new discoveries, the composition of battles of animals and men, various compositions of landscapes and monstrous things, such as devils and similar things, which may bring you honor, because by indistinct things the mind is stimulated to new inventions.

Leonardo da Vinci>

Reprinted from the Oxford edition of Selections from the Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, edited by Irma A. Richter. The selections are from da Vinci’s A Treatise on Painting (Trattato della pittura).
(Thanks to Jono Borden for asking.)

2017-12-29, updated: 2021-04-20

Mental Troubles

Perhaps I may venture for a moment to use a more serious tone, and to point out that there are mental troubles, much worse than mere worry, for which an absorbing object of thought may serve as a remedy.

  • There are sceptical thoughts, which seem for the moment to uproot the firmest faith;
  • there are blasphemous thoughts, which dart unbidden into the most reverent souls;
  • there are unholy thoughts, which torture with their hateful presence the fancy that would fain be pure.

Against all these some real mental work is a most helpful ally. That “unclean spirit” of the parable, who brought back with him seven others more wicked than himself, only did so because he found the chamber “swept and garnished,” and its owner sitting with folded hands. Had he found it all alive with the “busy hum” of active work, there would have been scant welcome for him and his seven!

(Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Pillow Problems and A Tangled Tale, 1885, p. XV;
see also: Life & Letters. Bulletpoints not by Dodgson.)


As any human, Carroll/Dodgson was battling with all kind of temptations. As we know, speculations about possible temptations in his private life keep feeding the pop culture Carroll debate since the 1930s. The controversy is marginalizing the religious conflicts which the Reverend Dodgson was struggling with. I think that one of these serious conflicts was Charles Darwin’s challenge to fundamental religious beliefs. Darwin’s discoveries surely had (and still have) the potential to uproot the firmest faith in various religions.

In the title of the book [Pillow-Problems, 2nd edition], the words “sleepless nights” have been replaced by “wakefull hours”.
        This last change has been made in order to allay the anxiety of friends, who have written to me to express their sympathy in my broken-down state of health, believing that I am a sufferer of chronic “insomnia”, and that it is a remedy for that exhausting malady that I have recommended mathematical calculation.
        The title was not, I fear, wisely chosen; and it certainly was liable to suggest a meaning I did not intend to convey, viz. that my “nights” are often wholly “sleepless”. This is by no means the case: I have never suffered from “insomnia”: and the over-wakeful hours, that I have had to spend at night, have often been simply the result of the over-sleepy hours I have spent during the preceding evening! Nor is it as a remedy for wakefulness that I have suggested mathematical calculation: but as a remedy for the harassing thoughts that are apt to invade a wholly-unoccupied mind.

I believe that an hour of calculation is much better for me than half-an-hour of worry.

(Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Pillow Problems, preface to the second edition, 1893)

Carroll openly described how he used mental mathematical work to find distraction from “harassing thoughts”.

I don’t know to which degree the illustrator Henry Holiday discussed and aligned with Carroll his choice of pictorial references in his illustrations to Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, but there is a pictorial reference to mental troubles: St. Anthony’s temptations (painting by Matthias Grünewald). In one of Holiday’s illustrations you see Colenso’s arithmetic textbook. Like Anthony, also Carroll needed lots of mental work as an distraction from sceptical, blasphemous and unholy thoughts. Anthony probably found help in the scriptures which were sacred to him. Interestingly, the Reverend Dodgson used mathematics to resist the temptations.

I saw this math textbook in Holiday’s illustration since many years. Only recently that led me to the assumption (which probably always will be just an assumption) that Holiday might have placed that book into his illustration as a hint to how Carroll used math to keep his brain busy with “some real mental work” as a “most helpful ally” in his battle against the temptations which haunted him.

By the way: Possible references in “The Hunting of the Snark” to St. Anthony and to Darwin had been addressed by Mahendra Singh before I thought about that. Mahendra (who alluded to Matthias Grünewald’s painting himself) and John Tufail were among my most helpful scouts during my own Snark hunt.

2020-06-11, update: 2021-04-18

Museé Unterlinden Retweets



2019-07-04, uptated: 2021-04-18

Page 83

«With ‘Baker’ not ‘Butcher” on p. 83.»

Do you think that this “Baker” on page 83 really proves that the book is a first edition and that it should be “butcher”? You find the answer in any contemporary Snark edition. No mistake, the Baker still is there.

More Examples for advertising the first edition of “The Hunting of the Snark”, offered for prices between €200 and €1000:

First edition, first printing, with “Baker” for “Banker” on page 83.

First issue with “baker” not “butcher” on page 83. It is unknown how many copies were printed this way.

This is about line 560 on page 83, the last page of Lewis Carroll’s tragicomedy. A “Baker” in that line is no proof that the book is a rare first Snark edition. Actually, all copies are printed this way, because that is how it should be. In Henry Holiday’s illustration on page 82 you see the head and a hand of the Baker, not the Banker (and not the Butcher either). Remember, the Banker had to be left behind in the previous chapter, so he cannot show up in the final chapter.

Thus, there is nothing special about “Where the Baker had met with the Snark.” This alleged error is a myth. Those rare book traders just didn’d (and still don’t) check the facts.

Then there is the JubJub. If you read somewhere that the bird never will look at a “bride”, then better check line 386 on page 55 in the original Snark edition. It’s “bribe”. You can find “It will never look at a bride” in the Internet many times. But that’s wrong.


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2018-04-02, update 2019-07-02


Removed (not by me) from Wikipedia

Rare book sellers often claim, that the first edition of ”The Hunting of the Snark” can be identified by the word “Baker” instead of “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line on page 83. However, “Where the Baker had met with the Snarkis correct. “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line is wrong. Also “bribe” in the 386th line on page 55 is correct, even though in the Internet the erratic “It never will look at a bride” can be found.

(The hyperlinks in this text where not part of the WP text.)


Schilb Antiquarian (Columbia, MO, U.S.A.) via, 2020-02-13

[…] This rare first edition is complete with the nine illustrations by Henry Holiday and features the expected first edition points (noted below). Item number: #9505 Price: $750 CARROLL, Lewis The hunting of the snark: an agony in eight fits London: MacMillan, 1876. First edition Details: Collation: Complete with all pages xi, [3], 83, [3] 9 illustrations by Henry Holiday Edition points: p.83 baker instead of butcher rear board I Was a Boojum […]

2019-11-26, updated 2021-04-02

Alice in the Woods

Bycatch from my Snark hunt:

2018-03-31, updated: 2021-03-31