The Caption and Tenniel


The Caption and Tenniel
(2023, 208 pages, $23.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)

Most readers will know Victorian artist John Tenniel (1820-1914) for illustrating Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. But his fame at the time came from the full-page weekly political cartoons he drew for Britain's Punch magazine, for which he received a knighthood. His book illustrations encompassed such classics as Aesop's Fables, The Ingoldsby Legends and Lalla Rookh. The Caption and Tenniel - please pardon the horrible pun, or revel in it - mines his non-Alice work for examples of his lively imagination, his fine draughtsmanship and his memorable images. Some of his Punch cartoons could be faulted as stiff (he took his marching orders from the Punch editorial table), but left to his own devices he boasted fantastic ideas and a lively wit. That's the side of Tenniel this book chooses to showcase - not least in a series of punning cartoons based on lines from Shakespeare, a Tenniel favourite. "The Sheriff, with a most monstrous watch, is at the door" - and there's the Sheriff, carrying a monstrous pocket-watch.

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