February 28 marks the 200th birth anniversary of British illustrator and artist, Sir John Tenniel.
Born in 1820, in London, Tenniel worked as political cartoonist and graphic humorist. Tenniel is best remembered for his illustration in Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice in Wonderland” series. However, it was the first and last time he had accepted an illustration job.
Here are some interesting facts about Sir John Tenniel
1. John Tenniel’s father was a dancing-master and taught Tenniel dancing, fencing, riding and much more.
2. Tenniel lost the vision in his right eye during a fencing accident with his father at 20. But he never revealed the injury to his father.
3. Tenniel had a photographic memory or eidetic memory, which is the ability to recall an image from memory after seeing it for only one time.
4. He had his paintings first exhibited when he was only 16.
5. In 1893, Tenniel was granted a knighthood for his political cartoons at Punch Magazine, as well as for his illustrations in the two books by Carroll.
6. Lewis Carroll’s relationship with Tenniel albeit successful but strained. Tenniel was upset as Carroll would not give him freedom to realize his creative vision, while Carroll was frustrated with Tenniel’s criticism about his manuscript.
7. Refusing to illustrate a proposed chapter in Through the Looking-Glass, Tenniel had said, “A wasp in a wig is altogether beyond the appliances of art”.
8. Due to overwork, his left eye was failing him. But he continued to paint until he was completely blind.
9. Tenniel died on February 25, 1914, when he was 93.