JRR Tolkien’s own illustrations appear in The Lord of the Rings for the first time | Books


A series of paintings and sketches created by JRR Tolkien while writing The Lord of the Rings will be included in the epic fantasy novel for the first time since its publication in 1954.

Tolkien was always modest about his skills as an artist: although some of his illustrations appeared in The Hobbit, the author described himself as “quite crushed” by a critic’s comments that the images “do not reflect any reflection of his literary talent and imagination “. “And added:” all the more because I totally agree with him “(CS Lewis called the images and maps” admirable “). While writing The Lord of the Rings in 1939, he told his editor that the work was “laborious” and that he “shouldn’t have the time or energy for illustration. I never knew how to draw, and half-done hints seem to have completely abandoned me. A (much needed) map would be all I could do. “

Orthanc by JRR Tolkien. Photograph: terencecaven / Tolkien Estate / Harper Collins

But he continued to create a variety of drawings, illustrations, maps, and sketches as he told the story of the search for Frodo and Sam, many as pictorial aids as he wrote his extensive history, and some for his own pleasure. While the works have been collected in books such as JRR Tolkien’s Images of Christopher Tolkien, and JRR Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull, and were shown in exhibitions in 2018, ownership of Tolkien has now been awarded to HarperCollins. the rights to publish a new edition of The Lord of the Rings, in which the images accompany the text that were created to illustrate for the first time.

Like many young readers, I was captivated by his charming and evocative illustrations that accompanied The Hobbit. These paintings, particularly the now iconic image that appears on their cover, have become as beloved as the story they accompany, ”said HarperCollins Deputy Editorial Director Chris Smith. Yet the author himself was characteristically modest, disdaining the obvious and rare artistic talent he possessed despite having no formal training. This modesty meant that relatively little else of his artwork was known or seen during his lifetime and generally only in later academic books. “

Most of Tolkien’s paintings, Smith added, “appeared to be private activities, produced for him or his children.” Only two of Tolkien’s illustrations were included in the original edition of The Lord of the Rings: Durin’s Gates and the inscription on Balin’s tomb. The new edition, which includes 30 illustrations, maps and sketches by Tolkien, will go on sale in October.

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