Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk – Folio Society Edition

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Lewis Carroll’s extraordinary vivid dream world of Alice In Wonderland is as old as the day is long – it’s a story that has been told over and over again, and honestly it never loses its appeal. As a child I don’t remember when I first discovered it, it seemed to have always been there, an ever present thing in my life, and the same can probably be said for the generations of people that have followed me or who went before me.

The reach of Alice In Wonderland I am sure, far superseded what Lewis Carroll could have ever dreamt of. It’s a story that seems to have seeped its way into our collective consciousness, and remains there working behind the scenes like code on a computer – our minds eye always alive to the possibility and subtle nuances we pick up in conversations, television, literature and songs which have all been influenced by this great work of literature like no other.

There is no surprise however that Alice In Wonderland has been translated into 176 languages, including Cockney, Middle Brenton and three languages of Zimbabwe – because we as a consumer, and as a reader can’t seem to get enough of this delightful tale of little old Alice. A story which is filled with outlandish creature, and otherworldly characters – this hold it has on us is in part due to the deftly constructed whimsical prose that Carroll weaves with great gusto. His prose at times has us going around and around in circles in our brain, trying to decipher the logic; and then we soon discover it’s been there all along – because the book has it’s own type of logic and its own code of conduct. Where the impossible is quite possible, if only we care to look.

The Folio Society edition of Alice in Wonderland

With so many artistic forms being influenced by Carroll’s work – for instance Jefferson Airplane’s song ‘White Rabbit’, the numerous works of film and television – not to mention the never ending scope of books that have been influenced by this fabulous mind. As of writing (this review) we have a book review of Wonderland: An Anthology stories inspired by Alice In Wonderland waiting in the wings.

So, what is it about Alice in Wonderland that we can’t get enough of? And with all the reimagining and borrowing from the source material is a new edition of this much loved classic really needed?

The answer to that last question is yes, without a shadow of a doubt – Folio Society have produced one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever had the pleasure to hold – and I think this might even be the most stunning edition of Alice In Wonderland to ever see the light of day – a true treasure for anyone who loves books!

Illustration ©2019 Charles van Sandwyk from The Folio Society edition of Alice in Wonderland

From the detailed slipcase to the bound block cover of the book with inlaid illustration – to the immaculately intricate and irresistible artwork on offer inside by illustrator Charles van Sandwyk (if the names familiar that’s because he wrote and illustrated another beauty of a book for Folio ‘How to See Fairies’ you can read the review here) there isn’t anything Folio have not pulled the stops out for in this edition. If you’re a fan, if you’ve read the book a hundred times, this book and this edition offers you to experience this much loved book in a new and beguiling light. It’s more than a book it is a work of art, it’s more than words and pictures on the page, it is an unforgettable experience!

Charles van Sandwyk has done a remarkable job at bringing something fresh to this edition (he’d need to right? What with all the other editions out there) with his painstakingly alluring illustrations, but he’s also been able to keep something very nostalgic about his work in the whole – giving the reader what they expect but subverting the artwork slightly and masterfully creating a new and exciting edition to encounter the brilliance of Carroll’s words.

Illustration ©2019 Charles van Sandwyk from The Folio Society edition of Alice in Wonderland

The artwork as you would expect is a big part of Alice In Wonderland its such a visually rich source material and Sandwyk has done a terrific job in creating not only a whole host of startling illustrations of the characters but also bringing something new and exciting to the world in which Alice finds herself in. Each piece of artwork drips with minute details and are intricately woven masterpieces which add to create greater depth and a sense of royal grandeur to the source material (even the beautifully crafted Historiated Initials) – its just a phenomenal piece of collected work… an experience I’ll never forget and one that I don’t think will be beaten.

It’s as if Charles van Sandwyk was born to work on this book!

Folio’s edition of Alice In Wonderland is quite literally stunning, it’s as if we all escape down the rabbit hole and find ourself in a fully immersive world, once we turn that first page! Phenomenal and a must for all book lovers!

The Folio Society edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk, is available exclusively from

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll is the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who was born in the village of Daresbury, England, on 27 January 1832. The third of eleven children, he was raised in his clergyman father’s rectory for much of his youth. A talented mathematician and voracious reader, Dodgson attended Richmond Grammar School and Rugby School before studying and later lecturing at Christ Church College, Oxford. His early writing included essays, poetry and pamphlets, but it was his children’s books that would earn him fame. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland began life as a story for Alice Liddell, daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, Henry George Liddell. After regaling Alice and her friends with the tale on a boating trip, he was persuaded to write it down as a keepsake. Family friends eventually persuaded Dodgson to seek publication, and the book was published by Macmillan in 1865 under his pen name. It quickly became hugely popular and was followed by the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, in 1871. Alice went on to become one of the best-selling children’s books in the world.

Charles van Sandwyk

Charles van Sandwyk was born in South Africa and raised in Canada; he taught himself calligraphy and intaglio printing as a teenager. His first self-published book appeared when he was just 20, and won a national award. Since then his work has been archived by the National Library of Canada and treasured by private collectors across the world. Van Sandwyk has produced illustrations for the Folio editions of The Blue Fairy BookThe Wind in the Willows and How to See Fairies (which he both wrote and illustrated). A limited edition of Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk, was published by The Folio Society to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first edition. It sold out rapidly.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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