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About Pauline Baynes
With her talent for fantastical map-making and vivid colour illustrations Pauline Baynes brought many of the most famous fantasy landscapes to life for adults and children including mapping Tolkien’s Middle Earth and illustrating the first editions of C.S Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
Mapping Middle Earth – J.R.R. Tolkien Collaborative Work
Despite apparently deciding to pursue art “because it was easy” and claiming to have wasted most of her time at The Slade “on coffee and parties” there is no doubt that Pauline Baynes had prodigious talent, with a particular knack for map-making and illustrating children’s and fantasy landscapes.
Born in Hove, she spent most of her childhood in India before leaving for school in England, an upbringing which inspired her vivid, vibrant imagination and for which she never quite overcame her homesickness.
Mapping Middle Earth
It was during World War II that Baynes honed her skills in cartography drawing maps for the Admiralty before beginning a modest career as an illustrator of children’s books. It was an introduction to J.R.R Tolkien via the publisher George Allen & Unwin however that really established her reputation.
Although she didn’t fully illustrate Tolkien’s major work The Lord of the Rings, she collaborated with him on many others and the two because fast friends; her colour maps of Middle Earth (a painstaking labour of love involving the research into Medieval map-making that was her forte) are synonymous with Tolkien’s creation.
The View to the Lamppost
It was through Tolkien that Baynes was introduced to C.S. Lewis, collaborating on what would become her most famous collection of illustrations for the Narnia series. The glowing colour of her magical snow-capped woods and vivid maps became a doorway through the wardrobe for many readers.
Baynes instinctively understood how to translate imagined worlds into pictures, she and Lewis communicated only sparsely and met only twice, with Baynes only comment on their meeting being “Met C.S. Lewis. Came home. Made rock cakes." She continued to illustrate until her death in 2008 at a desk strewn with gouache tubes and pens, overlooking her garden.