One-of-a-Kind Tolkien Map of Middle-Earth Unearthed

$92K map, full of author's notes, has been found in illustrator's collection
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2015 7:27 AM CDT
Did the Italian city Ravenna inspire Minas Tirith? A recently discovered map suggests so.   (Blackwell’s Rare Books)

(Newser) – A one-of-a-kind map of Middle-earth filled with JRR Tolkien's own green ink and penciled notes has been found in renowned illustrator Pauline Baynes' copy of The Lord of the Rings. Baynes appears to have removed the map from an earlier edition as she began to work on a color map for a 1970 Allen & Unwin edition, reports the Independent. The map reveals the extent of the collaboration between the two, who had a sometimes rocky but ultimately thriving working relationship, and illustrates several reference points, including that Tolkien may have based Minas Tirith on the Italian city of Ravenna, put Hobbiton on the same latitude as Oxford, and used Belgrade, Cyprus, and Jerusalem for inspiration as well.

The map is "an exciting and important discovery" that "demonstrates the care exercised by both in their mapping of Tolkien's creative vision," a specialist with Blackwell's Rare Books tells the Guardian. Blackwell's says it plans to sell "perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least" for about $92,000. "The map shows how completely obsessed he was with the details," another expert with Blackwell's adds. "Anyone else interfered at their peril. He was tricky to work with, but very rewarding in the end." The notes from Tolkien, then a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, include correcting place names, adding new ones, and suggesting flora and fauna. Baynes, who died in 2008 at the age of 85, also illustrated CS Lewis' Tales of Narnia. (Check out what Tolkien did to Beowulf.)

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