Lost Hobbit images get first showing
Unseen drawings by J R R Tolkien published this week throw new light on an old classic
Paul Bignell is an Assistant News Editor at The Independent. He has previously been the acting News Editor of the i Paper, a home news reporter for The Independent for one year and a reporter for the Independent on Sunday for six years.
Sunday 23 October 2011
Previously unseen illustrations produced for The Hobbit by its author, J R R Tolkien, will be published for the first time this week. The paintings and sketches, which were not used when the seminal children's novel came out in 1937, were recently discovered in the Bodleian Library, in Oxford.
The pen and ink drawings and a series of watercolours, three of which are reproduced here, were discovered by researchers in material bequeathed by the author's estate to the library in 1979.
They were looking for material to mark next year's 75th anniversary of Tolkien's second book. The illustrations, together with the long-awaited film version of the book due to appear in cinemas next year, are likely to stimulate renewed interest in The Hobbit.
Unlike the expensive special effects in the $500m (£315m) two-part film directed by Peter Jackson, Tolkien merely had pen and ink and a selection of watercolours at his disposal to bring his imaginary world of Middle Earth to life.
The images show how Tolkien took his distinctive style and developed it into the familiar illustrations that adorn the covers of his bestselling books. Experts say that when producing illustrations for The Hobbit, Tolkien borrowed heavily from those of an earlier book, Roverandom, which he wrote for his son Michael. The picture "The White Dragon Pursues Roverandom" bears a clear resemblance to "The Lonely Mountain" later used in The Hobbit.
Roverandom is a little-known novella written in 1925 by Tolkien, who had just lost his favourite toy dog. It follows the adventures of a young dog, Rover, who is turned into a toy by a wizard. However, it was always overshadowed by the success of The Hobbit and not published until 1998.
The new book of illustrations will feature more than a hundred sketches, drawings, paintings and maps.
David Brawn, of HarperCollins, said: "By the time The Hobbit was published, Tolkien was more than 40 years old, so he had spent a lot of his time painting and was an accomplished amateur artist. Tolkien's estate recently donated some money to the Bodleian and so the Tolkien holdings could be digitised and catalogued for the first time."
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 2 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 3 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 4 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
First Look at Bryan Cranston transformed into LBJ for HBO’s ‘All the Way’ film
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Does this Game of Thrones season 6 filming location give away an important character death?
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 100,000 back our campaign
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up