Snark too Dark

On the left side of this image comparison you see a scan (source: of Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. It already is a quite faithful reproduction of the original illustration.
        In prints made by Ian Mortimer (for a limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by Macmillan in 1993) from Joseph Swain’s original woodblocks, the illustration has better quality, but looks even darker. That is as faithful to the original as it can get.

I think that in the original printing, the dark areas of the illustration grew wider than it was intended by Henry Holiday. It looks as if too much black ink spilled into the white areas. Therefore I scanned the illustration from my own 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark. Then I grew the white areas a bit. (First I enlarged the image by 2:1. Then I applied GIMP → Filters → Generic → Delate. After that I scaled the image back to its previous size.) You see the result on the right side.

Discussion: twitter | facebook

2018-06-17, updated: 2019-06-20

Knight Letter № 100

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

(A friend told me that the caterpillar (here without hookah) on the front page is a Hickory Horned Devil.)

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.

Incidentally, in parallel to my little note 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 knows the objections of Revd. C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) angainst the dogma addressed by Article № 42 of Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles.

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



2018-07-28, updated 2019-06-09

Page 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.

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. 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 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.


Discussion: Facebook (rare books) | Facebook (The hunting of the Snark) | Twitter


2018-04-02, update 2019-04-22

A Snark Excerpt as Graph

The image visualizes hypergraph properties of a part (lines 547 to 556) of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. (I fixed the transposition error “Page 18” in the original image. In the 1st 1876 Snark edition it’s page 81.)

Image source:
Ronald Haentjens Dekker and David J. Birnbaum.
“It’s more than just overlap: Text As Graph.”
Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2017,
Washington, DC, August 1 – 4, 2017.
In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2017.
Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 19 (2017).

A remark which I received from David J. Birnbaum: Gijs Brouwer implemented the visualization, and Astrid Kulsdom transcribed the information based on the data model inside the application. Gijs’s animated version of the image is available at

Page 81 visualization | Print/Mobile | EPUB | Twitter | Facebook

The Broker and the Monk

In this image one of the elements has been marked (orange frame) which Henry Holiday borrowed from a 17th century painting (by an anonymous artist). This might be a bit different from the borrowing described by T. S. Eliot in 1920. In the example shown here, the borrowing of the pictorial allusion is inconspicuous. It doesn’t enrich Holiday’s illustration. It’s only purpose might be that of a signpost pointing to another work of art.


2017-09-27, updated 2019-02-25

My 1st Snark Trophy

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

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.

2017-08-28, updated: 2018-12-30

9.5±0.5 Snark Hunters

There is no tenth member in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. I think that the Snark hunting party consists of nine members only. Let us take them 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.

9 or 10 hunters? | Care and Hope | The Snark

2017-11-06, completely rewritten: 2018-11-07, shifted to the top 2018 posts: 2018-12-21

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 1867? Could Darwin’s supporters (probably not Darwin himself) have used his sketch for promoting The Descent of Man in 1871?

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