There are tons of editions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy featuring fantastic artwork by the likes of artists like Alan Lee, but there’s never been one that’s featured the artwork of the author himself, until now.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HarperColllins announced today that a special new edition of Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy will be released later this year, and that it’ll feature some of the art that Tolkien created.
According to the AP, the omnibus edition will be released on October 19th, and while Tolkien’s art has long been associated with The Hobbit, this’ll be the first time his work will be paired up for The Lord of the Rings (with the exception of his map of Middle-earth, and the illustrations of the Doors of Durin and Balin’s Tomb in Fellowship of the Ring).
Alison Flood has some additional details at The Guardian, noting that Tolkien was extremely modest about his artistic abilities, and that while writing The Lord of the Rings, told his publisher that “I should have no time or energy for illustration. I never could draw, and the half-baked intimations of it seem wholly to have left me. A map (very necessary) would be all I could do.”
Despite that reservation, Tolkien did draw a number of scenes from the story. Those illustrations have been sporadically published over the years, but in 2018, they were the center of a major exhibition and accompanying book: Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, which showcases not only his letters, pictures and other ephemera, but also his artwork, including a selection of images from Lord of the Rings.
That makes this particular edition special is that while Tolkien produced quite a bit of art, his vision has rarely defined the trilogy as a whole — that’s come down to everything from artists like Lee and others, movies like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Having Tolkien’s art embedded in the book will give dedicated Tolkien fans not only a nice-looking edition, but a chance to see Tolkien’s Middle-earth as he envisioned it.
The book omnibus edition will come in a couple of formats: there’ll be the regular edition, which will feature 30 of Tolkien’s illustrations, as well as a special, limited edition featuring a slipcase and some fold-out maps.