ByStephen Adamson, writer at
I love the game. I love the hustle. MP Staff Writer and Retired Rapper. Twitter: @_StephenAdamson
Stephen Adamson

If you like the show Pawn Stars (no judgment, I'm a fan), this kind of story might interest you. Blackwell's, a shop in Oxford which collects rare books, is currently exhibiting what they have described as "perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least."

A rough map of J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional land Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings, created by illustrator Pauline Baynes, was found tucked away in her old copy of the original book. It was to be published eventually by Allen & Unwin in 1970.

For those Pawn Stars fans, the Blackwell's store is currently selling it for £60,000. Not a bad pay day!

Blackwell's Rare Books
Blackwell's Rare Books

The notebooks reveal that Hobbiton is on the same latitude as Oxford, and imply that the Italian city of Ravenna could be the inspiration behind Minas Tirith.

The map uses Belgrade, Cyprus and Jerusalem as reference points and Blackwell's was quoted as saying “the city of Ravenna is the inspiration behind Minas Tirith - a key location in the third book of the Lord of The Rings trilogy”.

Sian Wainwright from Blackwell's spoke of the insane detail of these designs.

The map shows how completely obsessed he was with the details. Anyone else interfered at their peril. He was tricky to work with, but very rewarding in the end.

Henry Gott, the modern first editions specialist at Blackwell’s Rare Books, said the map was “an exciting and important discovery: new to scholarship (though its existence is implied by correspondence between the two), it demonstrates the care exercised by both in their mapping of Tolkien’s creative vision.”

Gott also added:

“Before going on display in the shop this week, this had only ever been in private hands (Pauline Baynes’s for the majority of its existence). One of the points of interest is how much of a hand Tolkien had in the poster map; all of his suggestions, and there are many (the majority of the annotation on the map is his), are reflected in Baynes’s version. The degree to which it is properly collaborative was not previously apparent, and couldn’t be without a document like this. Its importance is mostly to do with the insight it gives into that process.”

This is super interesting and really makes me want to go back and read these books again, now that I have a better idea of the geography and the real-life influences that went into it.

(Via: The Guardian)


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