John Tenniel is best known (and rightly so) for his beautiful, imaginative, definitive and absolutely perfect pen and ink illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: And What Alice Found There.
Though many illustrators have done their versions of Alice (see Lauren Harmon’s lists of Alice Illustrators, and the list of artist links on lewiscarroll.org), Tenniel remains the definitive interpretation. In my humble opinion, the only one who breaks out of Tenniel’s shadow when illustrating Alice is the great Arthur Rackham.
Tenniel has also influenced many artists and illustrators over the years, from his contemporary Victorian illustrators and cartoonists to modern “gothic” artists like Edward Gorey and Mark Ryden. (You can see my own nod to Tenniel in this cartoon from my book of Dinosaur Cartoons.)
The majority of Tenniel’s career was spent as a cartoonist and charicaturist for Punch, the British satire and humor magazine in the late 19th century. He also exhibited his work in galleries and painted a fresco in the Hall of Poets of the House of Lords.
As an illustrator, he created illustrations for a number of books including Aesop’s Fables, Undine, and Dickens’ The Haunted Man. It’s for his suberb drawings for the Alice stories, that we most treasure him though.
There are archived copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on Project Gutenbeg and Through the Looking Glass: And What Alice Found There on sabian.org, but the quality of the reproductions is inexplicably poor.
You can also find some of Tenniels’ Alice illustrations at the Webmuseum, and his political cartoons, illos for The Haunted Man as well as a full Alice set on The Victorian Web and some of the color versions of the Alice images on the British Library site.
For the best reproductions, and to truly appreciate Tenniels’ beautiful work, look for Alice books that include his illustrations. There are inexpensive editions in which the quality of the images is quite high: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (Modern Library Classics) and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Barnes & Noble Classics Trade Paper).