DODGSON, Charles Lutwidge ("Lewis Carroll"). "The Wasp in a Wig." CORRECTED GALLEY PROOFS FOR A "SUPPRESSED" EPISODE OF THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS. [London: Macmillan, 1871].
Together 6 galley sheets (including partial sheets) of varying length, comprising full slips 64-67 and portions of 63 and 68, printed on rectos only. ANNOTATED BY CARROLL IN BLACK AND PURPLE INKS, including a note in purple ink indicating the entire passage to be deleted.
Provenance: C.L. Dodgson's retained set of galley sheets of the suppressed episode (presumably sold at the sale of his effects following his death) - sold by unnamed consignor at Sotheby's London, 3 July 1974 (the catalogue states: "The proofs were bought at the sale of the authors furniture, personal effects, and library, Oxford, 1898) - purchased by John Fleming, New York on behalf of Norman Armour, Jr.
DODGSON'S RETAINED SET OF MARKED GALLEY SHEETS FOR THE LONG-LOST SUPPRESSED EPISODE, "THE WASP IN A WIG," FROM THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS.
While Dodgson was in the final stages of preparing Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, his sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, he made a sudden revision by dropping a large episode where Alice comes across an old wasp wearing a wig. It was at the proofing stage while the book was in galley sheets when Dodgson made the decision to drop the episode with several strokes of his characteristic purple ink.
"The meeting with the Wasp echoes Alice's encounter with the White Knight. It too dwells on the subject of age and aging, the Wasp also serving as a mouthpiece for Charles's thoughts and feelings, disguised here, not by armor, but by a wig" (Cohen, Lewis Carroll, p. 216). The first of the Wasp's five-stanza explanation of how he came to wear the wig reads: "When I was young, my ringlets waved And Curled and crinkled on my head: And then they said 'You should be shaved, And wear a yellow wig instead.'" The interaction between the two shows a rare side of the ordinarily impatient Alice. In his introduction to the first published edition (1977) of The Wasp in a Wig, Martin Gardner explains the significance of the episode: "There is no episode in the book [Through the Looking-Glass] in which she treats a disagreeable creature with such remarkable patience. In no other episode, in either book, does her character come through so vividly as that of an intelligent, polite, considerate little girl. It is an episode in which extreme youth confronts extreme age. Although the Wasp is constantly critical of Alice, not once does she cease to sympathize with him."
Prior to 1974, the only reference to this missing portion among Carroll literature is found in Stuart Dodgson Collingwood's biography of his uncle, where he states that Through the Looking-Glass originally contained thirteen chapters, instead of the published twelve, the omitted chapter being the Wasp in the Wig episode. Scholars have questioned whether it really comprised a chapter or was rather an episode. More significantly, with the context these proofs provide, they now agree on its intended placement--just following the White Night chapter. Prior to the discovery of these proofs it was believed the Wasp episode appeared much earlier in Through the Looking-Glass: adjacent to the railway carriage scene.
What prompted Carroll to omit this episode is explained in a letter from the book's illustrator, John Tenniel, to the author while illustrating Through the Looking-Glass. He was not happy with the subject and wrote Carroll on June 1, 1870, that "a wasp in a wig is altogether beyond the appliances of art" and that if you want to shorten the book there is your opportunity." Tenniel had exerted his opinions on other occasions with Carroll before: it was Tenniel, not Carroll, who insisted the first edition (1865) of Alice be scrapped due to the poor printing of the illustrations (the surviving copies remain one of the greatest rarities in English literature).
When they came to light at auction in 1974, after missing for over a century, the "discovery" of the present set of proof sent shock waves throughout the world of Carroll scholars and admirers alike. After fruitless attempts of finding any trace of the suppressed material, the draft was presumed lost, and some Carroll scholars even doubted it ever had ever existed. In 1977, the episode was published, with Mr. Armour's generous permission, by the Lewis Carroll Society of America. The publication prompted an enormous amount of attention, and numerous articles surrounding the publication of the lost episode appeared in the U.K. and America press at the time, including the Smithsonian (December 1977), Time magazine (6 June 1977), and the Telegraph: Sunday Magazine (4 September 1977).
In 1977, Morton Cohen described the significance of the newly discovered episode: "This piece of the Alice story, neglected for over a century, is not just a scrap of manuscript or an uninteresting incident; it is, in fact, a fully developed story of about 1,500 words, containing a new and fascinating character, the churlish old wasp in a wig, and a splendid new and original verse of 20 lines that Lewis Carroll used nowhere else. There is a good deal of both Alice and C.L. Dodgson in the episode, too."
THESE UNIQUE GALLEY SHEETS CONSTITUTE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO CARROLL SCHOLARSHIP, AND THEIR DISCOVERY SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON HIS PROCESS IN SHAPING ONE OF HIS MOST CELEBRATED WORKS.
See Morton Cohen, contributor. "The Wasp in a Wig: Exclusive: The Missing Chapters from Alice," in Telegraph: Sunday Magazine, September 4, 1977, pp. 17-18.
[With:] Lewis Carroll. The Wasp in a Wig. A "Suppressed" Episode of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Preface, Introduction and Notes by Martin Gardner. London: Macmillan, 1977. 8o. Full crimson morocco gilt. FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, specially bound with a presentation slip from the publisher's for Norman Armour, Jr. Together with the first ordinary English edition and copies of each of the two issues of the First American Edition.
[With:] CASSON, Hugh, artist. 3 original watercolor drawings of "The Wasp in a Wig," one of which was published in Smithsonian, (December 1977). To accompany the article on the discovery of the suppressed episode, the Smithsonian asked four contemporary illustrators to "try their hand at capturing the irascible insect." The British illustrators who contributed were Ralph Steadman, Patrick Procktor and Peter Blake.
The lot also includes a scrapbook of newsclippings and printed material related to the "Wasp in a Wig" discovery and publication collected by the Armour family.