Friday, September 9, 2022

in commemoration, Pauline Baynes

It's just now been brought to my attention that 9 September, which it still barely is here, was the centenary of the birth of Pauline Baynes. She was the young artist who was commissioned to illustrate Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham in 1949, and who turned in mock versions of medieval manuscript illustrations that wholly delighted all who saw them. Here, for instance, is the first page of the story:

Tolkien wrote, in a tone of pleasure you don't often get from him, "They are more than illustrations, they are a collateral theme. I showed them to my friends whose polite comment was that they reduced my text to a commentary on the drawings."
This led to further work illustrating other works by Tolkien including The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Smith of Wootton Major, as well as C.S. Lewis's Narnia stories. The grander side of Tolkien's imagination was considered a bit beyond her rather small-scale approach, but on the other hand she did draw the cover for the large one-volume softcover which for many British readers is the iconic edition of The Lord of the Rings:

Honor her today and continuously, eh?


  1. She also did very nice drawings for the paperback of McKillip's "Throme of the Erril of Sherrill"; but they were so small and on bad pulp paper I wanted to get the hardcover. I eventually found a copy, but was sorely disappointed that the hc didn't have Baynes' illustrations.

    1. Really? I have what I thought was the only paperback of that book, and the illustrations are by Judith Mitchell.

  2. Pauline Baynes's art for the first Allen and Unwin LotR paperback was derived from a triptych design for a boxed set of LotR hardcovers, from 1963 I believe. Caedmon used an element of Baynes's design for its LP Poems and Songs of Middle-earth. The triptych is my favorite work of LotR art. I wonder what happened to the original paintings? I would rather own them than mint first editions of The Hobbit and LotR!

    Dale Nelson