After six films, the world of “The Lord of the Rings” is very familiar to audiences worldwide. But an old map annotated by the author of the original book series and creator of the vast world of Middle Earth, J.R.R. Tolkien, was just uncovered by a book shop, Blackwell’s Rare Books, in Oxford, The Guardian reports.
The map, which features notes from Tolkien, belonged to Pauline Baynes, an illustrator who was working on creating the version of Middle Earth that ultimately would wind up in “LOTR.”
Tolkien’s notes add a dimension of reality to the fictional world. Among the revelations visible in his annotations include that Hobbiton is located at the same latitude as Oxford, where Tolkien was a professor. Also noted is that Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, was inspired by the Italian city of Ravenna.
As an academic, Tolkien’s other reference points for the cities of his fictional world included Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Belgrade.
26 OCT: A recently-discovered Lord of the Rings map annotated by author JRR Tolkien has gone on sale for £60,000. It was unearthed on a loose sheet of paper inside a copy of the book owned by late illustrator Pauline Baynes. The map has gone on display for the first time at Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford in the UK. Read more: bbc.in/lordoftheringsmap #BBCInstaMaps #BBCShorts #Tolkien #LordOfTheRings #Oxford @BBCNews 📷Blackwell's Rare Books
As quoted in a Tweet from Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen, this might be “the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years.”
Baynes’ “Lord of the Rings” collection, as well as some work the illustrator did for writer C.S. Lewis, is currently on display at Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford.
And for wildly devoted Tolkien fans (Stephen Colbert, perhaps?), the map can be purchased for £60,000, which actually isn’t that steep, considering it’s a piece of major Middle Earth history.