Culled from today’s Montreal Gazette: J.R.R. Tolkien’s annotated map of Middle-earth has been discovered inside a copy of The Lord of the Rings.
Annotations J.R.R. Tolkien made on a map of Middle-earth show his attention to detail. The map was found in Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford. It reveals the author’s observation that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and implies that the Italian city of Ravenna could have been the inspiration behind the fictional city of Minas Tirith.A specialist at Blackwell’s Rare Books found the map in a copy of The Lord of the Rings that had belonged to illustrator Pauline Baynes.
Baynes had removed the map from another edition of the novel as she began work on her own colour map of Middle-earth for Tolkien, which Allen & Unwin would publish in 1970. Bayne also created cover and inside illustrations for the Narnia books by Tolkien’s friend and colleague C.S. Lewis.
When Baynes turned her hand to the map, Tolkien had then copiously annotated it in green ink and pencil, with Baynes adding her own notes to the document while she worked.
Blackwell’s, which is exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for about $121,000, said it is “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least.” The bookshop said it demonstrates “the exacting nature” of Tolkien’s creative vision. He corrects place names, provides extra ones and gives Baynes a host of suggestions about the map’s flora and fauna.
Hobbiton, he notes, “is assumed to be approx. at latitude of Oxford.” Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.
The novelist also uses Belgrade, Cyprus and Jerusalem as other reference points. Blackwell’s says this suggests “the city of Ravenna is the inspiration behind Minas Tirith — a key location in the third book of The Lord of The Rings trilogy.”
“The map shows how completely obsessed he was with the details. Anyone else interfered at their peril,” said Sian Wainwright at Blackwell’s.
Henry Gott, modern first editions specialist at Blackwell’s Rare Books, said the map was “an exciting and important discovery.”
Some links to other news sources, some with pictures of the map: