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 Mortimer 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: 2021-09-18

What – me worry?

Source for “Alfred E. Neuman”:

After a Butcher/Jowett comparison I run into a page published by a certain “Arthur Neuendorffer“. (Art perhaps is in Oxford what “Alois Kabelschacht” is in room 354 of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich.) Art discovered a resemblance between Henry Holiday’s depiction of The Butcher in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark and Alfred E. Neuman. He wrote: “When Mad Magazine was sued for copyright infringement, one defense it used was that it had copied the picture from materials dating back to 1911.” Incidentially, my first copy of the The Hunting of the Snark was an American edition published in 1911.

It seems, though, that Alfred E. Neuman and the Butcher are quite distant relatives:

2020-02-19, update: 2021-09-05

9.5±0.5 Snark Hunters

Most readers of The Hunting of the Snark assume that the Snark hunting party consists of ten members. However, probably for a good reason, only nine members can be seen in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s ballad. Actually, I really think that the Snark hunting party consists of nine members only. But if you, as almost everybody else, prefer ten Snark hunters, that’s fine too. Lewis Carroll gave you (and me) a choice, incidentally(?) in the 9th and the 10th line of his tragicomedy.

Let us take all the crew members in order of their introduction:

  1. The Bellman, their captain.
  2. The Boots, a maker of Bonnets and Hoods
  3. The Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes, but repeatedly complained about the Beaver’s evil lace-making.
  4. The Broker, to value their goods.
  5. The Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense, might perhaps have won more than his share. From John Tufail I learned that in Henry Holiday’s illustration the Billiard-marker is preparing a cheat.
  6. The Banker, engaged at enormous expense, had the whole of their cash in his care.
  7. The Beaver, that paced on the deck or would sit making lace in the bow and had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck, though none of the sailors knew how.
  8. The Baker, also addressed by “Fry me!”, “Fritter my wig!”, “Candle-ends” as well as “Toasted-cheese”, and known for joking with hyenas and walking paw-in-paw with a bear.
  9. The Butcher, who only could kill Beavers, but later became best friend with the lace-making animal.

More about the members of the Snark hunting party:
9 or 10 hunters?
  Care and Hope
  The Snark

2017-11-06, updated: 2021-09-02

The Bard


Bycatch (found in 2013) from my Snark hunt:

more | John Tufail

2017-09-26, update: 2021-08-26

Easter Greeting

On 1875-10-25, C.L. Dodgson noted in his diary that publishing The Hunting of the Snark as a book «would give me a good opportunity to of circulating two papers (which might be lightly gummed in), one a new “Christmas Greeting” to my 40,000 child-readers, the other an advertisement for a house (and a garden perhaps) in or near London».

Later, as the book wasn’t ready for the Christmas sales, an Easter Greeting was lightly gummed into the book shortly before it was published.


Easter Greeting by Lewis Carroll, printed by James Parker & Co. (Oxford, 1876) for C. L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) privately on cream laid fine paper with the “Towgood Fine” watermark. Tipped in at front end paper of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, 1st edition and 1st printing, Macmillan & Co. (London, 1876).
'Towgood Fine' watermark of the 'Easter Greeting' tipped in at the front end paper of Lewis Carroll’s 'The Hunting of the Snark'

2017-11-17, update: 2021-08-16

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 2021-08-08

The Jabberwock

[…] [Jabberwocky] has also been interpreted as a parody of contemporary Oxford scholarship and specifically the story of how Benjamin Jowett, the notoriously agnostic Professor of Greek at Oxford, and Master of Balliol, came to sign the Thirty-Nine Articles, as an Anglican statement of faith, to save his job. […]

Stephen Prickett (2005): Victorian Fantasy, Baylor University Press, p. 113, ISBN 1-932792-30-9

Unlike Benjamin Jowett, the Rev. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) didn’t sign, but managed to save his job nevertheless without being ordained as a priest.



’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

See also:


Jabberwocky, Confounded, app for iOS by Christopher Gross


composer: Zoë Tweed, rendition: Sylva Winds
(flute: Yi-Hsuan Chen, bassoon: Guylaine Eckersley, oboe & voice: Drake Gritton,
clarinet: Rowan Jones, french horn: Zoë Tweed)

composer: Ben Ponniah, rendition: Peter Noden

2018-04-06, update: 2021-06-30

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

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