Map of Middle-Earth Annotated by Tolkien Found in a Copy of Lord of the Rings

tolkien map

Image via Blackwell’s Rare Books

Back in April, we high­light­ed for you a trove of 110 illus­tra­tions by J.R.R. Tolkien, offer­ing a rare glimpse of the author’s artis­tic tal­ents. Tolkien did­n’t just like to write books, as we saw. He also liked to draw illus­tra­tions for these books, which helped him to con­cep­tu­al­ize the fan­ta­sy worlds he was cre­at­ing.

Just this month, Houghton Mif­flin released a new book called The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, which brings togeth­er more than 180 draw­ings, inscrip­tions, maps, and plans–all drawn by Tolkien as part of his world­build­ing cre­ative process. Most were nev­er pub­lished until now.

And then we get this: a new­ly-dis­cov­ered map anno­tat­ed by Tolkien. Found in a copy of The Lord of the Rings that orig­i­nal­ly belonged to Pauline Baynes (the artist who illus­trat­ed Tolkien’s nov­els in print), the map intrigu­ing­ly con­nects Tolkien’s fan­ta­sy world to real places on our globe. Accord­ing to The Guardian, anno­ta­tions on the map (click here to view the mate­ri­als in a larg­er for­mat) sug­gests that “Hob­biton is on the same lat­i­tude as Oxford [where Tolkien taught], and implies that the Ital­ian city of Raven­na could be the inspi­ra­tion behind the fic­tion­al city of Minas Tirith.” Bel­grade, Cyprus, and Jerusalem also get list­ed as ref­er­ence points. Dis­cov­ered by Blackwell’s Rare Books, the rare map will be put on the mar­ket for an ask­ing price of £60,000.

You can learn more about this map, con­sid­ered “per­haps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years,” over at The Guardian.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

110 Draw­ings and Paint­ings by J.R.R. Tolkien: Of Mid­dle-Earth and Beyond

Dis­cov­er J.R.R. Tolkien’s Per­son­al Book Cov­er Designs for The Lord of the RingsTril­o­gy

The Only Draw­ing from Mau­rice Sendak’s Short-Lived Attempt to Illus­trate The Hob­bit

Hear J.R.R. Tolkien Read From The Lord of the Rings and The Hob­bit

Sovi­et-Era Illus­tra­tions Of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hob­bit (1976)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.