It looks like we can finally wipe off some dust from the LOTR fandom, because a map of Middle-Earth, annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien himself, has recently surfaced.
The map was found in late illustrator Pauline Baynes' copy of The Lord of the Rings, and it reveals some interesting facts about Tolkien and his thoughts surrounding Middle-Earth.
Inspired by Europe
We already know that Tolkien was inspired by Europe when creating Middle-Earth, the Shire is pretty much Oxford and the Hobbits are British. However, the newly surfaced map suggests that the inspiration for Minas Tirith was actually the Italian city of Ravenna. If we compare the two, it does make sense.
Looks like Ravenna might be seeing a rise in tourism numbers if this turns out to be true. Especially considering the IndieGoGo campaign to build a real-life Minas Tirith failed. I know where I'll be going next summer!
Difficult to work with
Another revelation is that Tolkien was somewhat difficult to work with. He was extremely obsessed with details, and the illustrator described him as "uncooperative." Later on, however, it seems as if their relationships gets better – there is a note describing a lunch they had together, with first names and kisses all around, where Tolkien is pleased with the map.
The map can be yours
The annotated map is currently up for sale at Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford, England. The book shop is describing the map as "an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least." Should you wish to invest in some Tolkien memorabilia, the current price for the map is £60 000, which is roughly $92 000.
Source: The Guardian