Alice in Holidayland pure marketing gold

The Alice in Holidayland plates will be on show at Scarborough Art Gallery from Saturday. Photos by Tony Bartholomew.
The Alice in Holidayland plates will be on show at Scarborough Art Gallery from Saturday. Photos by Tony Bartholomew.

It has to be one of the most charming items in the Scarborough Collections: Alice in Holidayland was published some time around 1910 – a hand-written date in the front of our pictured copy dates it to 1912 – and is a wonderfully quirky piece of tourism marketing.

‘A parody in prose, verse and picture… perpetrated with Apologies to the Immortal Originals of Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel’, the book tells the story of young Alice’s visit to Holidayland – otherwise known as the Yorkshire coast.

The gorgeous illustrations are a joint venture from two very different artists

In the course of her travels, she converses with the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon at Robin Hood’s Bay, meets the Lion, the Kangaroo and Uncle William at Scarborough, and partakes in a Mad Tea Party at Filey Brig (sic).

Those tedious twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee pop up on the beach at Bridlington, and the Red King is, appropriately, found at Redcar. Alice also has fantastical adventures up and down the coast at Withernsea, Hornsea, Saltburn and Whitby.

The text is by FW Martindale, who is something of a mystery.

We’ve found reference to someone of that name who appeared to have been a stationer and printer in Hull, and also a writer of Boy’s Own-style adventure novels.

Whether all three are the same man is unknown – if any readers can enlighten us, we’d be really glad to know.

Whoever he was, he certainly knew how to write a parody: “So young a child,” said the gentleman sitting opposite to Alice (who had been hidden behind a white newspaper) “ought to have a delightful time in Holidayland.”

And all the other voices in the carriage began to talk at once saying, “She must go to Scarborough –” “She ought to visit Bridlington –” “She can’t do better than Whitby –” “The sands at Withernsea are splendid –” “She certainly ought to go to Filey –” and so on.

But the gentleman behind the white newspaper leaned forward and whispered in her ear: “Never mind what they say, my dear, but go and visit all the places – they’re worth it!”

The gorgeous illustrations are a joint venture from two very different artists – Frank Henry Mason and Noel Pocock, the former providing the landscape backdrops, the latter, the figures.

We’re delighted to be able to include a copy of Alice in Holidayland in a new exhibition which opens at Scarborough Art Gallery on Saturday, Frank Henry Mason – the Man and his Methods.

Born in Seaton Carew, marine painter, print maker, illustrator and poster designer Mason (1875-1965) was known as a ‘light impressionist’. He had no formal training, and started his career at sea, both in the navy and commercially after training as a marine engineer.

He came to live in Scarborough in 1894 and painted many beautiful maritime scenes around the town, as well as distinctive Art Deco travel and railway posters.

He also became involved with the increasingly active artistic community up the coast at Staithes, and in 1901 became a founder member of the Staithes Group.

Less information is available about Noel Pocock (1880-1955), but his cartoony style, as seen here, was well suited to children’s book illustration – he was well known for illustrating Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Robinson Crusoe, and satirical works such as Below Zero: A Travesty Of Winter Sport.

Alice in Holidayland is, of course, a parody of children’s classic Alice in Wonderland, which this year celebrates its 150th anniversary.

The book is part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects and artwork acquired by the 
borough over the years, and now in the care of 
Scarborough Museums Trust.

For further information, please contact Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne on Jennifer.dunne@smtrust.uk.com or 01723 384510.

Frank Henry Mason – the Man and his Methods can be seen at Scarborough Art Gallery from Saturday 26 September 2015 to Sunday 3 January 2016 – for more details call the Gallery on 01723 374753 or visit the Scarborough Museums Trust website: scarboroughmuseumstrust.org.uk