Pauline Baynes, Tolkien and Lewis Illustrator, Dies at 85

by Aug 6, 2008Other News

1961 Hobbit Cover by Pauline Baynes1961 Hobbit Cover by Pauline BaynesOn August 1, noted J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Illustrator Pauline Baynes has passed away at 85. Known for her pen and ink drawings in Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham, she also caught Lewis’s eye and illustrated all 7 of The Chronicles of Narnia books. Her illustrations were certainly memorable, but still gave the reader the ability to personally visualize the story.

Here’s a brief clip of a biography of Pauline Baynes courtesy

Born in Brighton, Baynes was the younger of the two daughters. She spent the first few years of her life in India, where her father was employed in the civil service. At the age of five she returned to England with her mother and sister, Angela, and lived in a series of hotels and rented rooms, in and around Farnham, in Surrey, when she was not boarding at the now defunct Beaufront girl’s school in Camberley. Later she was educated at the Farnham School of Art and – for two terms only – at the Slade School of Art in London. She studied design, but never gained any formal qualification.

During the second world war, because of her art training, she made models for the Royal Engineers’ camouflage unit (1940-42), then at Farnham Castle. She then moved to the Admiralty’s hydrographics department in Bath (1942-45), drawing maps and nautical charts.

Contact with a publisher colleague in the camouflage unit led to her first professional commissions in the early 1940s. By the end of the decade she had amassed a respectable body of published work. Then came Tolkien, and indeed, when The Hobbit appeared in a single print run as a Puffin edition in 1961, she provided the cover for it.

It could be argued that the popularity of the Narnia books has overshadowed the rest of Baynes’s astonishingly large body of work. She prided herself on her meticulous research and had a huge and eclectic working library from which she drew her inspiration.

In 1957 she illustrated Amabel Williams-Ellis’s edition of The Arabian Nights, and five years later came Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Iona and Peter Opie’s Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes was published in 1963. In 1964 there was Tree and Leaf by Tolkien and in 1966 she worked with the creator of Little Grey Rabbit, Alison Uttley, on Recipes from an Old Farmhouse. Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major followed in 1967. In 1968 she won the Kate Greenaway Medal for her illustrations to Grant Uden’s A Dictionary of Chivalry. She almost managed to duplicate this achievement when she was runner up for her artwork for Helen Piers’s Spider and Snail (1972).

Click here to read the entire biography


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