The moral fable, The Water Babies (1863) by the Rev. Charles Kingsley combines his interest in social reform, history, nature and Christianity in a story of how a little chimney–sweep goes backward in evolution because he is wicked. A popular book until the 1920s, most readers didn't know it was published both as a satire and as a serious critique of the close-minded approaches of many scientists of the day in their response to Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution.

Edward Lear was a landscape and zoological painter who published his first Book of Nonsense in 1846. It was not until the 1860s that his children's poems and apologetic limericks became well–known. He illustrated the books himself, presenting hand–drawn copies to the children of such friends as the poet Alfred Tennyson.

Another literary nonsense author, Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898), was a photographer and a mathematics lecturer at Oxford College in England. Writing under the name Lewis Caroll, he handwrote his first Alice book, Alice's Adventures Underground, in 1862 for Alice Liddell, daughter of the Dean of Christ Church. It evolved into Alice's Adventures In Wonderland(1865) and its sequel Through the Looking Glass (1872). Both were illustrated with wood engravings by artist and political cartoonist John Tenniel.

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