I have discovered all manner of ephemera in old books—everything from 19th century hotel bills to bawdy letters—but nothing as special as a rare map of Middle Earth. Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford, UK, where J.R.R. Tolkien once taught, has found a unique map annotated by the author himself in pencil and green ink. The loosely folded map was uncovered in a copy of Lord of the Rings that had once belonged to the late English artist and illustrator Pauline Baynes. The favorite illustrator of both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis placed the map in the book when she worked on a similar example for a 1970 edition of LOTR.
The map’s annotations suggest that Tolkien used the Italian city of Ravenna as inspiration for the fictional Minas Tirith and that the Shire’s Hobbiton «is assumed to be approx. at latitude of Oxford».
Blackwell’s is currently exhibiting the map at its Oxford shop…
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