Tolkien as Artist and Illustrator
The husband and wife team of Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull have edited three Tolkien publications. Two of their collaborations are editions of Tolkiens fiction, one being last years fiftieth anniversary edition of Farmer Giles of Ham, the other being the 1998 first publication of Tolkiens long childrens story, Roverandom. Their first Tolkien collaboration was a book of a different order, a study of Tolkiens own artwork, with over two hundred examples by Tolkien, many of which were published for the first time. J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator was published in hardcover in 1995.
A trade paperback has at long last just appeared from Houghton Mifflin, Tolkiens American publisher. It is an oversize volume, finely designed and printed on heavy paper, with numerous color illustrations. Priced at $25.00 (ISBN 0-618-08361-8), and containing numerous examples of Tolkiens own drawings of places in Middle-earth, it is a marvelous addition to anyones Tolkien library.
The book is divided into six main sections. The first covers Tolkiens early artwork, and includes many drawings of landscapes and places in England which Tolkien visited in the 1910s. Some of these are in pen and ink, but a few are in color, and they are fine impressionistic studies.
The second section is called "Visions, Myths and Legends." This section contains a number of drawings of abstract concepts like "Wickedness" and "Afterwards," and various "ishnesses"like "Grownupishness" and "Undertenishness." There are some early drawings of landscapes for the stories Tolkien was writing in The Book of Lost Tales. One of my favorites is the illustration "Tanaqui," which is apparently an illustration of the city of Kôr upon a hill in Eldamar.
The third section is called "Art for Children," and it includes illustrations from Roverandom, Mr. Bliss, and The Father Christmas Letters. The fourth and fifth sections will be of considerable interest to Tolkien fans, for they contain, respectively, Tolkiens illustrations for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately there is no drawing of a Balrog (so the Wings or No-Wings debate shall continue). But there are some surprises. In a sketch for the dust-jacket of The Return of the King, we actually get to see Sauron, with his hand reaching out over some mountain-tops!
And there are pages from the Book of Mazarbul, complete with tears, burn-marks, and binding-holes. Seeing one of these pages under better light than Gandalf had in Moria, it does seem possible to read more of the rune-text.
The sixth section of the book covers "Patterns and Devices," including heraldic devices for a number of characters, a Númenórean Carpet, and some various doodles. A short appendix gives some examples of Tolkiens calligraphy.
This is truly an excellent and delightful book. It deserves a place on bookshelves right next to The Lord of the Rings. And with the first of the movies now only about a year away from release, it makes a for a timely study of Tolkiens own visual conceptions of Middle-earth.