I Capture the Castle

Dodie Smith

Illustrated by Sarah Dyer

Love, loyalty and the bond between sisters are explored and celebrated in Dodie Smith’s enduring classic. The Folio Society edition of I Capture the Castle features charming illustrations by Sarah Dyer.

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‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink...’

Folio presents a beautiful new edition of I Capture the Castle, the captivating tale of Cassandra and Rose Mortmain and the romantic complications that ensue with the arrival of a pair of rich American brothers. For this special edition of Dodie Smith’s celebrated classic, artist Sarah Dyer has created six new colour images as well as a charming binding design that references the opening line, one of the best known in all of literature. The endpapers, embellished with gold stars against a blue background, are inspired by Cassandra Mortmain’s two guinea notebook, and the title page illustration grants a gorgeous introduction to ramshackle Godsend Castle itself. Whether I Capture the Castle is an old favourite or a new discovery, this beautiful edition is sure to be one that’s returned to again and again. 

Bound in printed cloth

Set in Perpetua with Relation display

392 pages

6 full-page colour illustrations, plus an integrated black & white title-page spread

Printed endpapers


9½˝ x 6¼˝ 

The eccentric Mortmain family are happy, but poor. Father, who once wrote a very important book, hasn’t written a useful word since, and every bit of money they possessed has been sunk into their remarkable home: a Victorian oddity grafted onto the side of a ruined castle. Daughters Cassandra and Rose spend their lives making do, but change might be on the way with the arrival of the Cotton brothers, rich Americans who own nearby Scoatney Hall. Surely one of them might be in want of a wife? While older sister Rose attempts to fall madly in love with at least one of them, Cassandra records their turbulent year in her journal – and in doing so discovers that her own heart could be at stake.

‘I know of few novels that inspire as much fierce lifelong affection in their readers.’
  1. Joanna Trollope

Smith wrote I Capture the Castle whilst living in California, having moved there with her husband at the outbreak of the Second World War. As well as capturing the thrills and agonies of first love, the book is full of Smith’s longing for England: the countryside is depicted in exquisite detail, and seasons move through the book like characters themselves. Sarah Dyer’s illustrations are humorous and sensitive, seeming to hover – as Cassandra does – between the world of childhood and the realm of adults. Her witty colour images capture a myriad of small details – a lily pad on the moat, the pink blush of Heloïse’s nose – and the black-and-white title page illustration has been drawn in soft pencil, as if Cassandra herself sketched it in one of her own notebooks.

Dodie Smith was a children’s novelist and playwright. Born in 1896 in Whitefield, Lancashire, in 1910 she moved to London, where she attended the Academy of Dramatic Art. She pursued a career in acting alongside working at Heal and Son’s furniture store, where she met her future husband, Alec Beasley. She wrote her first play, Autumn Crocus, in 1931, and its success led to further works, including Call it a Day (1936) and Dear Octopus (1938). Smith and her husband moved to the United States in the 1940s, where her homesickness for Britain inspired her first novel, I Capture the Castle (1948). She continued to author plays and novels, but she is perhaps best known for The Hundred and One Dalmatians (1956; Folio Society 2017), which was adapted by Disney in 1961. Smith died in 1990.

Sarah Dyer is a picture book maker and illustrator living in Hove on the South Coast with her husband and three children. She enjoys working outside on location for reference and colour which feeds back into her book work. Sarah graduated from Kingston University in 2001 with a BA in illustration. Her first book Five Little Fiends won several prizes and has been translated into eight languages. Since then, she has written and illustrated nine more picture books, as well as a series of non-fiction toddler books with her distinctive mix media and collage style. Clients include Bloomsbury, Frances Lincoln, Otter Barry Books, Tate, Radio Times, Pop Up and Fallon. She was a 2020 winner for the illustrator’s exhibition at Bologna Book Fair.


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