The series of paintings and sketches created by JRR Tolkien while writing The Lord of the Rings should be included in the epic fantasy novel for the first time since its publication in 1954.
Tolkien was always modest in his artistic abilities: although a handful of his illustrations were shown in The Hobbit, the author described himself as “quite crushed” by one critic’s comments that the paintings “did not reflect his literary talent and imagination.” which I totally agree with him. ”(CS Lewis rated the pictures and maps as“ admirable. ”) In the middle of writing The Lord of the Rings, in 1939, he told his publisher that the work was“ hard ”and that“ I shouldn’t have time no energy to illustrate. I could never draw, and it seems to me that half the hints have completely left me. A map (much needed) would be all I could do. “
But he continued to create a series of drawings, illustrations, maps and sketches as he told the story of Frodo and Sam’s quest, a multitude of pictorial aids as he wrote his extensive story, and some for his own pleasure. Although works collected in books such as Paintings by Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien, and Wayne G Hammond and Christine Scull, JRR Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, and displayed in exhibitions in 2018, the Tolkien estate has now granted HarperCollins the right to publish a new edition of The Lord of the Rings in which the images follow the text that was first created to illustrate.
“Like many young readers, I was delighted by his charming and enchanting illustrations that accompanied The Hobbit. These images, especially the now iconic image that appears on its cover, have become as popular as the story they follow, ”said Chris Smith, deputy director of HarperCollins. “Nevertheless, the author himself was characteristically modest, rejecting the obvious and rare artistic talent he possessed, even though he had no formal education. This modesty meant that relatively little of his other work of art was known or seen during his lifetime, and generally only later in scientific books. “
Most of Tolkien’s paintings, Smith added, “seem like a private quest, produced for him or his children”. Only two of Tolkien’s illustrations are included in the original edition of The Lord of the Rings – Durin’s Gate and the Inscription on Balin’s Tomb. The new edition, which contains 30 Tolkien illustrations, maps and sketches, comes out in October.