Image: JRR Tolkien/Tolkien estate
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of Tolkien's The Hobbit next year, HarperCollins publisher David Brawn went through the reclusive author's archive at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and came across a treasure trove more than 100 illustrations:
"That was a surprise. I thought there might be 40-50 in total," said publisher David Brawn. "But there are 110 Hobbit pictures, about two dozen of which haven't been published before."
Ranging from line drawings in ink to watercolours and sketches, the collected drawings will be published on 27 October as The Art of the Hobbit. HarperCollins hopes the collection and the anniversary will shed new light on the fantasy author – and on his first novel.
"It includes his conceptual sketches for the cover design, a couple of early versions of the maps and pages where he's experimenting with the runic forms, as well as a couple of manuscript pages," said Brawn. "It shows that Tolkien's creativity went beyond the writing, that it was a fully thought out conception. When he writes about the hobbit hole ["In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort"], he's designed it as well. And by doing that, it makes his description more vivid ... Tolkien was an accomplished amateur artist. He was a great admirer of Arthur Rackham and you can see a little bit of that style coming through."