Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Last weekend, I happened upon a copy of Sterling's new Alice in Wonderland edition, with illustrations by Robert Ingpen. Ingpen's beautiful, dreamy illustrations are as lovely an interpretation of the subject as I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Of course, the text is what it is, a masterpiece (it's the first book I ever read to myself, and I went on to marry a woman called Alice, so that should tell you how I feel about it). And Ingpen's art brings something genuinely new to it, a cloudlike insubstantiality tinged with a little bit of thunderhead, that makes me incredibly glad to own this book.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Robert Ingpen


  1. Being respectful while still being original isn’t a small feat. This book isn’t even expensive. The number of illustration is modest but they are what they are.

    What is fun with book illustration is that every artist is free to re-interpret others work without any copyright worries.

  2. Does anyone have a copy of the Ralph Steadman illustrated version?

    Been searching for a copy of that one for years…

  3. Terry Pratchett: “I didn’t like the Alice books because I found them creepy and horribly unfunny in a nasty, plonking, Victorian way. Oh, here’s Mr Christmas Pudding On Legs, hohohoho, here’s a Caterpillar Smoking A Pipe, hohohoho. When I was a kid the books created in me about the same revulsion as you get when, aged seven, you’re invited to kiss your great-grandmother.”

    1. Reminds me of something that one of the people on the now-defunct website Old Man Murray said about American McGee’s Alice:

      The problem with making a dark and disturbing version of Alice in Wonderland is that it’s pretty dark and disturbing to begin with, which gives it little training wheels that help cultural firebrands ride it into geniusdom once every eighteen months or so. Masterminding a trippy reinterpretation of Lewis Carroll is like making a version of Crazy Traxi, only crazy! At this point, about the edgiest thing you could do with Alice in Wonderland is try to make it a little less fucking insane.

  4. The same artist does a commemorative 100th year edition of Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows. I had always remembered this book fondly from childhood and saw this edition the other day and couldn’t resist. Originally, I bought it for a friend’s daughter but upon opening it, realized she wouldn’t be ready to read it for another 8 years, and read the first page. I was hooked again and so happy to become reacquainted with it. There was so much my 8 year old self missed and so many really beautiful, writerly turns of phrase. My heart dropped when I saw the “abridged” version on the shelf next to it. Totally dumbed down and devoid of all the artfulness of the original text, avoid this one at all costs.

    1. Not just ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Wind in the Willows’, but Mr.Ingpen has also done marvellous illustrations for ‘Treasure Island’, ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Peter Pan’. I have signed versions of them all :)

  5. I love Jan Svankmajer’s stop-motion animation interpretation, called “Alice.” It’s tender and creepy–he uses some taxidermied animals (is “taxidermied” a word?)–yet faithful to the tale. There are clips on, naturally, Youtube.

  6. Creepy, but not in a good way. Why is this person still illustrating in that ugly style popular in the 70’s?

    Arthur Rackham’s version blows this out of the water.

    1. Oh, let’s be fair. Arthur Rackham’s version of ANYTHING blows any other versions out of the water.

      Good quote from Pratchett…I enjoyed the Alice stories but found the characters repulsive, too. I couldn’t understand WHY anyone would want to write about a giant, grumpy egg in a waistcoat.

      1. I kind of like it when some characters in children’s books are repulsive yet not necessarily evil. It’s a good balance against all the sugary nice, virtuous heroes and heroines, and wicked witches/ogres/trolls/monsters, and introduces the idea that people can be awful. Handy lesson.

        1. I didn’t mean repulsive just in appearance- besides, even though they weren’t clearly evil I’m not sure you could call many of those wacko characters in Alice positive. They’re all crazy and act irrationally, often driving Alice to frustration. In fact I now realise their strange looks reflect their strange behaviour. What I found most repulsive about them is that you could never trust them. They’d turn on you in a second, for no good reason.

          1. I always took it as Carrol trying to teach Alice (the dedication) that she was going to meet people that were difficult, and that your best bet is just to roll with it. There are times in my life I feel like Alice at the tea party. “Change places!” Sure, why not?

  7. Anyone who likes the creepy aspects of Alice in Wonderland, and who is geeky enough to enjoy reading roleplaying gamebooks, should check out the free PDFs for the JAGS Wonderland game…

  8. I hope the fact that she shares a name with a literary character from a book he likes isn’t the only reason that Cory married his wife…

  9. I happened upon the Ingpen version of Alice while browsing in Barnes & Noble, and I found his illustrations incredible. I’m not familiar with Arthur Rackham’s work, but I don’t see how it’s possible that his work could “blow this [Ingpen’s] out of the water,” as Rey T. Fox said. Having been wowed by Ingpen’s illustrations, I began to wonder whether Fox’s dismissive attitude smacked more of snobbishness than art criticism.


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