xi, , 83,  + 1 ad pp. Illustrated with frontispiece (included in pagination) & 8 full-page wood engravings by Swain after Henry Holiday. Bound in are a full-page pen-&-ink (purple) illustration by Lewis Carroll, and a 4-page autograph letter (in purple ink) from Carroll to Henry Holiday, with a few pencil notations by Holiday. (8vo) 18x11.5 cm (7¼x4½"), rebound in period full calf, rebacked with most of original spine strip employed, all edges gilt; original pictorial front cover cloth bound in. First Edition.
The most important known primary autographs relating to The Hunting of the Snark, comprising: the only known Lewis Carroll drawing for the book and a 4-page letter to the book’s illustrator, Henry Holiday, critiquing his designs. Carroll’s original drawing appears to be his concept for “The Barrister’s Dream”; it differs visibly from Holiday’s finished picture. The letter, dated Jan. 4, 1876, highlights Carroll’s and Holiday’s different artistic vision for the book, and critiques Holiday’s illustrations for the work both generally and in particular; the letter, which is incomplete at its end, includes another original illustration by Carroll of the “Beaver” character in the book. Holiday has written his own brief autograph responses to some of Carroll’s critiques at the bottom of three pages, including the highly significant statement: “L. C. has forgotten that ‘The Snark’ is a tragedy.” Only two other Carroll-to-Holiday letters are known, both of later date and lesser content, and the present letter is unquestionably the most important such letter known. The Hunting of the Snark is justly said Carroll’s most important and famous work after the two Alice books. Indeed, The Hunting of the Snark takes place in a geographic and linguistic universe that is an integral extension of Alice’s Wonderland – Carroll himself having affirmed that the Snark inhabits the very island where the Jabberwock was slain, and the poem utilizing some eight invented words of Jabberwockian vocabulary. The meaning of the poem has been hotly debated from its first day of publication and remains an open question – Carroll himself often denying that it meant anything in particular, but at length agreeing in an 1896 letter that it could be interpreted as an allegory for the search for happiness. Any autograph material directly relating to the creation of Carroll’s books is exceedingly rare in private hands. The autographs have been bound into a first edition copy of the book, uniquely bound in a contemporary full calf with a Snark-related bell motif on the front cover; it is very probably Henry Holiday’s own copy. These autographs are formally unrecorded and unpublished.