This Folio Life: Recreating Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty

Arthur Rackham is renowned throughout the world for his beautiful illustrations to some of the most famous fairy tales; images that enchant the reader. But it was on a recent research trip to New York that we stumbled upon a little-known and rarely-seen side to Rackham’s work: the silhouette books of Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty. Having seen them, I set about acquiring copies so that we could reproduce these enchanting books as Folio limited editions.

James Rose, Limited Editions Editor

 

Cinderella sweeping, an illustration by Arthur Rackham, The Folio Society

Widely acknowledged as the pinnacle of the silhouette-book tradition, the originals appeared in 1919 and 1920 respectively, both as standard editions, and de luxe limited editions signed by Arthur Rackham himself. Upon inspection, it became immediately obvious that it was these de luxe editions that we needed to replicate. Our facsimiles therefore are quarter-bound in cream cloth with art-parchment sides blocked in gold on the fronts and spines, to reproduce as closely as possible these fine editions. The bindings are finished with rules, also blocked in gold, to divide the cloth of the spine from the paper sides. To complete the luxurious design, gold foil has been applied to the top edges of the pages.

The Folio Society limited edition of Cinderella, illustrated by Arthur Rackham

The endpapers, as per the original volumes, are decorated with pale silhouettes: figures dance across the page in Cinderella (apart from the poor soul who appears to have fallen), whilst two children hurry towards an elderly woman telling a story to an entranced young audience in The Sleeping Beauty – so lovely is this image, which also appears at the head of the opening chapter, that we chose it to enhance the inside of the hand-made presentation box, printed in gold ink.

The opening page of The Sleeping Beauty

With over four centuries of papermaking experience, the Lana papermill (founded in 1590) supplied the Distinction Edition Ivoire paper on which the text has been printed. Manufactured with traditional methods, using all Lana’s expertise, the Distinction Edition Ivoire has been sewn in signatures of eight pages following the traditional techniques of fine book production.

Each book also features one colour illustration, printed on art-silk paper and set within a decorative printed frame. These are tipped-in by hand, secured only on the right-hand-side to allow movement which, perhaps counter-intuitively, helps to prevent creasing. The title pages and four other illustrations per volume are further heightened with colour and there are black and white silhouette illustrations throughout, including numerous head- and tail-pieces.

The opening page of Cinderella

Rackham was a renowned perfectionist, maintaining strict control over every element of the books he illustrated – designing and overseeing the production of the title page, the cover and even the spine. We have endeavoured to maintain these rigorous standards, working hard to match the tones of his images and the luxurious feel of the original de luxe editions, and housing them in a presentation box, specially designed with Rackham’s mice tumbling down the spine and a briar rose blocked in black on the front board, whilst the titles are blocked in sumptuous gold to complement the books.

Mice illustration by Arthur Rackham, from The Folio Society limited edition of Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty

Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty are both highly individual, and Rackham’s emotional engagement and pleasure at his own inventiveness leap off every illustrated page. Almost 100 years later, they remain engaging and refreshing, full of his distinctive blend of humour and drama, observation and imagination.

Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty, a limited edition from The Folio Society

View this beautiful limited edition of Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty.

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