The only known dedication copy of an "Alice" book aside from the Liddell/Hargreaves copies.
The printed dedication is hidden in the dedicatory verse 'A Nursery Darling'. The second letters of each line spell the name Marie Van der Gucht.
Marie Van der Gucht (1874-1919) was one of seven children born to Charles Van der Gucht (1830-1883) and his wife Rosalie (née Hodding) (1839-1922). Dodgson first met Marie on 24 July 1885 and his diary describes her as "a quite charming child, aged 11" (see ed. Edward Wakeling, Lewis Carroll's Diaries, Vol. 8, Clifford, 2004, p. 227). On 29 July 1885 Dodgson asked her if she'd accompany him to Eastbourne. She "at first said 'yes,' and her mother consented: but afterwards she lost courage. So... I returned alone" (op. cit., p. 229). On 10 April 1886 Dodgson took her to see The Mikado at the Savoy Theatre. It was her first visit to a theatre. Between 1 and 6 September 1886 Dodgson and Marie enjoyed Eastbourne and Guildford together (op. cit., pp. 290-292). The loosely inserted photograph is inscribed to Mrs [Rosalie] Van der Gucht and makes a specific dated reference to this trip. This studio portrait carries the name of W. Kent (of New York, London and Eastbourne) on the reverse. Later in 1886 Marie was taken by Dodgson to Harry Furniss as the model for Sylvie in Sylvie and Bruno. (Furniss would later choose his own daughter as the model).
Inscribed copies of the 1889 issues of The Nursery Alice are exceptionally rare at auction. There are only three recorded (see David Carlson and Jeffrey Eger, Dodgson at Auction 1893-1999, Somerville, 1999):
- [Liddell]/Hargreaves copy (Sotheby's, 3 April 1928, lot 327 and, later, Sotheby's, 26 March 1947, lot 2947)
- Vivian Heaphy (Sotheby's, 11-14 November 1929, lot 468)
- Daisy Walter (Anderson Galleries, 21 May 1928, lot 841)
It is likely that the copy sent to the Duchess of Albany's daughter was also inscribed (see Morton N. Cohen, Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll, London, 1982, p. 190) and also a copy thought to have been sent to Gwendolyn Marion Waldo Story (see ed. Edward Wakeling, Lewis Carroll's Diaries, Vol. 8, Clifford, 2004, p. 472).
The 1932 Avery exhibition catalogue notes that, of the "pre-publication issue" [Avery 30 and 30a] which is "printed in slightly different brown coloured ink from the others", "only two copies are known". These were the Parrish and Zanetti copies. It is likely that the Hargreaves copy was a further example.
The Hargreaves copy appears to have been bound in an identical fashion to the present copy. The 1928 Sotheby's description describes it as "levant morocco, title on upper cover and small inlays in corners, g.e. the original presentation binding".
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