Google doodle honoured the British illustrator and artist, Sir John Tenniel, on his 200th birthday on Friday. Tenniel is one of the most highly-regarded Victorian illustrators and painters, and best remembered for bringing to life the characters of Lewis Carroll’s timeless “Alice in Wonderland” series.
Tenniel was born in London on this day in 1820, and his talent was clear from a young age. At just 16, the mostly self-taught artist submitted his first work, an oil painting, for exhibition at the Society of British Artists. In 1850, Tenniel found his calling as an illustrator when he became a political cartoonist with the historic weekly magazine Punch. He developed a distinctive style, due in part to his near-photographic memory.
It was this unique approach that most likely caught the attention of writer and professor Charles Dodgson, whose pen name was Lewis Carroll. After an introduction in 1864, Tenniel agreed to illustrate Carroll’s new book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” released the following year.
Thus began a highly successful, if strained, creative partnership that continued with “Through the Looking Glass” in 1872. The result: a series of classic characters, such as Alice and the Cheshire Cat, as depicted in the Doodle artwork’s rendition of their iconic meeting—characters who, along with many others, remain beloved by readers of all ages to this day.
After his work with Caroll, Tenniel never accepted another illustration job again; instead, he returned to his political cartoon work at Punch. For his considerable contributions to both the magazine and “Alice in Wonderland,” Tenniel received a knighthood in 1893.
Tenniel’s illustrations have animated the imaginations of children and adults alike for generations. His legacy continues to thrive, as readers cherish these timeless works of art to this day.