JRR Tolkien’s own sketches and paintings are to be included a publication of the fantasy novels for the first time.
After being “rather crushed” by some negative comments from one critic who said Tolkien’s illustrations in The Hobbit “show no reflection of his literary talent and imagination” Tolkien never used the sketches in his own work again.
In 1939, while writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien told his publisher that writing was already “laborious”, so he “should have no time or energy for illustration,” adding “I never could draw, and the half-baked intimations of it seem wholly to have left me. A map (very necessary) would be all I could do.”
The Forest of Lothlórien in Spring by JRR Tolkien
Despite his misgivings, Tolkien completed sketches, illustrations, and maps while he wrote The Hobbit. He created many of his drawings as illustrative aids to keep a track of the epic story, as well as for his own enjoyment.
Many of the drawings have since been collected in books put together by Tolkien’s son–Pictures by JRR Tolkien– and another by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull–JRR Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator.
HarperCollins has now had permission from the Tolkien estate to print the images alongside the epic fantasy tale of Frodo and the ring.
“Like many young readers, I was enthralled by his charming and evocative illustrations that accompanied The Hobbit. These paintings, particularly the now- iconic image that appears on its cover, have become as beloved as the story they accompany,” said HarperCollins deputy publishing director Chris Smith. “Yet the author himself was characteristically modest, dismissive of the obvious and rare artistic talent he possessed despite having had no formal training. This modesty meant that relatively little else of his artwork was known of or seen during his lifetime, and generally only in scholarly books afterwards.”
Many of the paintings “seemed to be private pursuits, produced for himself or his children,” he added.
The new edition, featuring 30 of Tolkien’s illustrations, maps and sketches, will be released in October.