Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll is celebrating its 150th anniversary of publication. The depictions shown here are from an edition which was illustrated by A.H. Watson, aka Alice Helena Watson who was born in 1896 in Cockermouth, Cumbria. She was the 2nd of three children and the one who was most destined to become an artist. Alice was educated at the Quaker School near Cockermouth before attending the Glasgow School of Arts in Scotland, at the age of 16.She received her first commission in 1923 – to illustrate “Santa Claus in Summer” by Compton MacKenzie.
Alice married the highly accomplished artist Alistair Kenneth MacDonald in 1926. He was a major influence in her artistic style and it soon became a challenge for critics to differentiate between their artwork. However, despite her talent, Alice had to work hard to achieve success.
Alice’s career continued with many illustrated books for Compton MacKenzie, one which her sister wrote, two books by Marion St. John Webb and many others including contributions to annuals and in the 1930s-40s illustrated for Collins publications.
Times were often tough for both Alice and her husband as illustrators; trying to earn a reasonable income to keep themselves and their two sons from poverty and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, painting right up until his death, Alistair died in 1948.
- The following year Alice worked along with her sister on “Nursery Rhymes“, fulfilling a life-long ambition to compile such a book.
- After its publication, Alice decided to give up illustrating, although she did do the occasional work for Dent in the 1970’s.
- Alice passed away in 1984.
Both images are from Alice Watson’s 1939 illustrated version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass.
– and (to think) it really was a kitten after all!.
What a purr-fect ending!