CARROLL, THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS, AUTHOR'S ANNOTATED COPY OF THE SUPPRESSED SIXTIETH THOUSAND, 1893
- Charles Lutwidge Dodgson ["Lewis Carroll"]
- Through the Looking-Glass. London: Macmillan and Co., 1893
As noted by Selwyn H. Goodacre in 1975, "Lewis Carroll is well known for his almost obsessive concern over the practical details involved in the production of his books..." (see Goodacre, 'Lewis Carroll's Rejection of the 60th Thousand of Through the Looking-Glass', The Book Collector, Summer 1975, p. 251). The present example caused the author to threaten his publisher with a termination of his contracts.
Carroll received six copies of the 60th Thousand of Through the Looking Glass on 21 November 1893. He noted in his diary "on examining them, I found the pictures so badly printed that the books are not worth anything. Of the fifty pictures, twenty-six are over-printed, eight of them being very bad. I am glad to find that the 60th were done... as a separate batch: and that sixty only have gone. I sent orders that the nine hundred and forty are to be destroyed: so the book will be 'out of print' for some time".
The author was furious with his publishers. He wrote to Frederick Macmillan that "...much as I should regret the having to sever a connection that has now lasted nearly 30 years, I shall feel myself absolutely compelled to do so, unless I can have some assurance that better care shall be taken, in future, to ensure that my books hall be of the best artistic quality attainable for the money". The situation deteriorated and Carroll stopped production on Sylvie and Bruno Concluded and then demanded that "no more Wonderlands are to be printed, from the present electrotypes, till I give permission" (this at the beginning of the Christmas sale period).
A circular was printed asking for the return of copies of the sixtieth thousand and announcements appeared in The Times and Daily News.
Carroll eventually decided not to destroy the impression but, with a rubber-stamp to the title-page and lettering on the binding, presented copies 'for the use of Mechanics' Institutes, Reading Rooms, etc.' Only a handful of these survive. But of the original copies it is thought ONLY FOUR SURVIVE IN THE ORIGINAL CLOTH.
In 1975 Goodacre had traced two copies of the Mechanics' Institute issue. In 1990, the Lovetts noted "no copies of the 60th thousand in standard binding have been recorded, and only three copies of this "Mechanics' Institute" edition are known'. A more recent (unpublished) census by Goodacre traced four copies in the original cloth (one of which is now lost). This, then, is CARROLL'S OWN COPY and is annotated in 34 places ("26 pictures over-printed 8 of them very bad", "a little over-printed", "much over-printed", "very bad folding page a line too low down", "very much over-printed very bad indeed", etc.)