To the illustrator Henry Holiday, Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark was a “tragedy”. That might have been Carroll’s intention in 1874, when he started to write the poem as one of the many chapters of his Sylvie and Bruno project. But when the poem was published as a separate book in 1876 with more than 500 lines, it turned out to be a tragicomedy.
Page from a letter (1876-01-04) by C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) to Henry Holiday about Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Beaver’s Lesson. The two lines at the bottom are a note written by Henry Holiday.
I think the note is:
× L.C. forgot that “the Snark” is a tragedy and [should]
on no account be made jovial. h.h.
An institution’s rare collections make it unique in the world. Here a sample of the feast @USC shown to @LibSrFellows, including a handwritten note from Lewis Carroll on the verso of his poem “The Hunting of the Snark.” @McGill_ROAAr pic.twitter.com/0v0QKj6owg
— Nathalie Cooke (@CookeNathalie) August 16, 2018
On a geeky note, it thrills me that this was filled out in purple ink.
Like Lewis Carroll and many an Oxbridge university prof, Virginia wrote in purple. It was traditionally cheaper than black & so became linked with academics and aesthetes.
1:19 PM · Jan 6, 2022
2017-09-06, update: 2023-08-27