13 August 2008

Tolkien and Lewis illustrator Pauline Baynes

passed away last Friday at the age of 85. When I was 8, her illustrations for The Chronicles of Narnia taught me to "read" images. It seemed that every time I looked at her lovely pen drawings, I saw something new.

Brian Sibley writes,
There are certain illustrators whose work is so intimately interwoven with the author's text as to rank as the books' co-creators. Sir John Tenniel, for example, the first illustrator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and E H Shepard who, with A A Milne, led us into the world of Winnie-the-Pooh. Similarly, Pauline Baynes' pictures of country and denizens in C S Lewis' seven Chronicles of Narnia are still - despite the recent big-screen movie imagery - the definitive depiction of that extraordinary land beyond the wardrobe...
It is a lovely personal tribute that goes on to describe her achievements, her illustration of the lost chapter of Through the Looking Glass, and the stories behind how she met J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
After producing illustrations for various books of fairy tales, Pauline Baynes' career was established when, in 1949, J R R Tolkien's publishers showed the author of The Hobbit a portfolio of her artwork. Tolkien had written Farmer Giles of Ham, a fanciful novella with a faux-medieval setting, and being dissatisfied with the pictures that had been produced for the book was looking for a new illustrator.

Pauline produced a series of witty line illustrations that perfectly caught the essence of Tolkien's story to an extent that he declared them to be "more than illustrations, they are a collateral theme." He also delighted in reporting that friends had said that the pictures had reduced his text to "a commentary on the drawings"!
Here is his full obituary in The Independent. It is very sad that she is gone, but what a beautiful life she led.

(via NarniaWeb via cleolinda)

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