Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator

11th July 2019



The complete archive of the original artwork by Faith Jacques used to illustrate the first UK edition of Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator.

The archive comprises two large ink and watercolour paintings, one used for the wraparound cover design (310 x 500mm) and the other alternative design (330 x 450mm) used subsequently as the cover for the first paperback edition (published 1975).  In addition, sixty-two pen and ink drawings (varying in size from 115x145mm to 190x445mm) on fifty sheets comprising all the illustrations  used in the book. On the back of three of these sheets are drawings ultimately not used in the book.

The heavily annotated envelope used by Jacques to send the pen and ink drawings to Gallimard for the preparation of the French edition in 1979 is also present.

Each drawing is signed and titled by Faith Jacques, and all but one sheet has the original tissue guard attached by Jacques. The tissue guards and the backs of the sheets are extensively and attentively annotated by the artist, noting sizes for reductions but also making comments addressed to the publishers on the illustrations and in one instance addressing a long note to “Mr Dahl” on the back of illustration number 8.  Both watercolours and drawings remain in fine condition, exceptionally well-preserved.  Collectively housed in a large custom made portfolio.

Faith Jacques, described as “one of the outstanding illustrators responsible for the renaissance of British picture books during the last three decades” (Obituary in The Independent, 1997), was the first illustrator of Roald Dahl’s children’s books in Britain, introducing Willy Wonka and Charlie to a generation of children. Dahl had up to this point been illustrated by a number of different artists in America and found the process of finding an artist whose vision fitted with his own a frustrating process.  Jacques was by no means guaranteed to illustrate the sequel to one of the best-loved stories in children’s literature.

Nevertheless, she was chosen and the annotations and correspondence on the pictures suggest a generous, open and collaborative working relationship between the author and the illustrator. A note by Jacques under her depiction of the chocolate room reads “Sorry I’ve had to cross the gutter. I tried to avoid it in first version of this but it doesn’t do, it divides too much for the meaning. I know we’ll lose a bit in the middle but I think it’s a case where we’ll have to let the chips fall where they may…”. Elsewhere she addresses a long note to “Mr Dahl” on the technical aspects of her depiction of the space hotel that concludes “I know it's fantasy but all the same I do like to have a bit of factual basis - and thousands of little boys know so much these days!”.

The illustrations were also used in the Puffin Books paperback edition of 1975, with Jacques providing new cover artwork which is also included here. She then sent the pen and ink illustrations to Gallimard for their use in the French edition of the book, published in 1978.

It is rare for even single pieces of original artwork illustrating Dahl’s books to appear in commerce, and for the complete archive of illustrations for a single book to be available is particularly unusual.


Full details and prices can be viewed here.


The Great Glass Elevator Archive can be viewed in our Henley shop as part of our summer exhibition, The Children's Library.

Add a comment

Thank you for your comment. Your comment will appear on the site after it has been reviewed by a member of our team.