Posted on February 28, 2021
|Self-portrait by Sir John Tenniel|
Sir John Tenniel was not born "sir," of course. He was born on this date in London, England, in 1820; his dad was a fencing teacher and a dance instructor.
At age 20, Tenniel was practicing fencing with his father, and unfortunately his dad's protective tip came off the foil (which is a lightweight, flexible sort of sword that is often used in fencing). With the tip off, his father injured Tenniel's right eye. Of course his dad felt terrible! Over the years, Tenniel gradually lost sight in the eye - but he never told his dad, because he didn't want to make him feel even worse.
Tenniel became an artist and illustrator - remember, he only lost sight in one of his eyes, so he could still see! He did political cartoons, and he became the main political cartoonist for Punch magazine - a magazine of humor and satire - and he held that "main cartoonist" position for more than 50 years! Wow!
Most people nowadays know Tenniel best for his illustrations in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Apparently Tenniel talked a LOT to author Lewis Carroll (who had originally illustrated Alice himself) before creating 92 illustrations for the two books. When Alice's Adventures in Wonderland became an instant best-seller, Tenniel became even more famous than he was for his work in Punch.
In 1893 Tenniel was knighted and given the title "Sir" for his artistic contributions. He lived to be 93 years old.