Tolkien Illustrated

It is a fact that all our best-loved classics are published countless times, in countless editions; the magical tales that have captured readers for generations bound in decades of design. In this respect, J R Tolkien is no exception; The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings especially have featured numerous variations, both in cover and in illustrations. However, what makes Tolkien and his mythical worlds special is that he himself not only created them in words but also depicted them through drawings, sketches and watercolour; his works feature not only the ideas of an exceptional author but also those of an exceptionally creative artist. Having read editions which did not feature Tolkien’s captivating images myself, I was unaware of his capacities as an illustrator for a long time. I am therefore very excited about the anniversary publication of The Hobbit, to be published next year, which gives his artwork the attention it truly deserves.

Smaug Flies Round the Mountain

If you’d like to learn more about Tolkien and his illustrations, the following books might be of interest to you:

In time for The Hobbit‘s 75th anniversary in 1937, Harper Collins published this beautifully-designed collection of Tolkien illustrations. Written and edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Art of the Hobbit displays more than 100 newly digitised illustrations of The Hobbit, alongside some fascinating information on one of the world’s best-loved tales.

Whoever is interested in Tolkien’s illustrations beyond The Hobbit finds a rich source of information in J.R.R. Tolkien – Artist and Illustrator, which comprises his art work from early childhood drawings to late sketches. It not only includes his seminal illustrations and maps for The Lord of the Rings, but also the sketches Tolkien made for his children on mythical legends such as Father Christmas.

By the way, most of the manuscript illustrations are held by the Bodleian Library  and Conversation with Smaug is currently on display at the Treasures of the Bodleian exhibition – not only is this free entry but it contains some fascinating literary finds. Go take a look!

One Response to “Tolkien Illustrated”
  1. Thomas Davis says:

    I knew that Tolkien was an artist, but did not realize that he did so many illustrations for his books. Thank you.

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