On Tolkien Reading Day, last 25 March, I had the extreme pleasure of receiving an e-mail from the Tolkien Society informing me that my paper had been accepted for presentation at the Tolkien 2019 convention in Birmingham next August. I was already working on the subject I had chosen, because it is an important part of my research : “Artists in Middle-Earth: illustrating The Lord of the Rings” deals with the two illustrated editions of this narrative.
I have now finished the first draft of my talk and am ready to embark on the adventure of editing the whole thing, so I thought I’d share the abstract:
Among the many British editions of The Lord of the Rings published since 1954-55, only two sets of illustrations were inserted within the pages. The first one was created by Ingahild Grathmer and Eric Fraser for the Folio Society edition of 1977, and the second by Alan Lee for the Centenary edition of 1991-1992. Their approach to the text and to text-image relationships highlight their reading of Tolkien’s words. In this paper I offer to take a detailed look at these illustrations – some of which being part of today’s collective imaginary – how they interact with the text and how they shed light on it. This paper will also examine the artists’ own sources of inspiration, and how looking at past artworks helped them shape their visual interpretations of Tolkien’s story.
I am looking very much forward to presenting it to Tolkien scholars and fans in a little more than two months!