When The Lord of the Rings debuted in 1954 it featured two of author J.R.R. Tolkien‘s illustrations: the Doors of Durin and the Inscription on Balin’s Tomb. None of the numerous editions published since then have included any of Tolkien’s art. Instead, they’ve featured the work of artists such as Alan Lee. But, as we learned earlier in the yea r, the Tolkien estate granted HarperCollins the rights to publish a new edition of The Lord of the Rings with Tolkien’s art accompanying the text. And now, this latest edition has released for purchase.
It’s not the first time we’re ever seeing these illustrations. Other tomes have collected Tolkien’s drawings in the past. Exhibitions put them on display in 2018. However, it’s altogether different to see the author’s creations alongside his text. He created maps and sketches as he wrote. However, he largely kept them private and dismissed his skills as an artist. The general public didn’t see the brunt of Tolkien’s art until after his death.
The publishers shared this about the latest The Lord of the Rings edition:
J.R.R. Tolkien’s grand masterwork in a new hardcover illustrated with the art created by Tolkien himself as he envisioned Middle-earth.
This new edition is illustrated with J.R.R. Tolkien’s own artwork, created as he wrote the original text. It will be packaged with the following features: shrink-wrapped for damage protection, a sewn hardback binding with a ribbon placemark, ink-sprayed edges displaying Tolkien’s runes, two maps loosely tucked, and will be printed on FSC “forest-friendly” paper. The text will be printed in two colours with full-colour illustrations, and the dustjacket will be stamped in two foils with a circular die-cut.
A Lord of the Rings fan’s dream.
HarperCollins deputy publishing director Chris Smith told The Guardian,
“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. 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.”
The art and illustrations Tolkien once made only for his reference and joy now bring us all joy. This new edition is now on sale.
Amy Ratcliffe is the Managing Editor for Nerdist and the author of A Kid’s Guide to Fandom, available for pre-order now. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
This article was originally published on March 25, 2021.