Fun Facts Friday: John Tenniel

John Tenniel (28 February, 1820 – 25 February, 1914) was a British illustrator and cartoonist whose work was prominent during the second half of England’s 19th century. These days Mr. Tenniel is remembered, in part, as the illustrator for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Fun Facts Friday JohnTenniel

Books illustrated by John Tenniel*

  1. Tenniel’s father, John Baptist Tenniel, was very athletic and worked as a dancing-master. The son learned fencing, dancing, riding and more from his father. However, at age 20 he suffered a cut which blinded his right eye. Tenniel concealed the injury from his father to spare him the guilt.
  2. At age 16 Tenniel’s paintings started to be exhibited at galleries.
  3. One of Tenniel’s first commissions was a fresco for the House of Lords.
  4. Tenniel had a photographic memory.
  5. John Tenniel worked as chief cartoon artist for Punch and his images were considered funny and radical.
  6. Tenniel drew 92 drawings for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.
  7. Tenniel attended the Royal Academy of Arts but left in disgust at the quantity of teaching he received.
  8. Tenniel’s political cartoons played up the racial stereotypes of the time (Jews with hooked noses, Africans with thick lips, etc.).
  9. Tenniel was honored as a living national treasure and for his public service was knighted in 1893 by Queen Victoria, the first cartoonist or illustrator to receive the honor.
  10. Historian M. H. Spielmann, who knew Tenniel, said his cartoons at Punch were capable of “swaying parties and people”

Books illustrated by John Tenniel*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

This post was originally published as Fun Facts Friday: John Tenniel on 28 February, 2014

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