J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy between 1937 and 1949, and we we here at Nerdist are not shy about calling the novels some of the greatest achievements in literature. We’re also fans of their film adaptations by Peter Jackson. Now, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the third book’s release, renowned Tolkien scholars Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull would like us to shift our focus to the art of Middle Earth—Tolkien’s earliest drawings, to be exact—in celebration.
The Art of the Lord of the Rings contains more than 180 meticulous sketches, diagrams, maps, inscriptions, and invented alphabets by Tolkien, most of which are just now being seen for the first time. He uses pencil on graph paper with red and blue ink, and there’s no effort to make these drawings look “professional”—they are simply a window into his vast imagination and painstaking writing process.
If you’re a fan of Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, you’ll definitely want to check out this book to see how he tested his ideas, kept track of his characters as they roamed Middle Earth, and how his sketches informed the shape of the narrative. And if you thought Middle Earth was complicated before, this is something else entirely. Check out the Gallery of images below, and head to Amazon to purchase the book (after all, Christmas is right around the corner).
After all, Tolkien is one of the overlords of nerdom:
What do you think of the sketches? Do they capture your imagination? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Image Credit: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford