Calling all Hobbit and Tolkien fans (young and not so young)! New to our library’s collection is the beautifully illustrated, and bound, 2013 edition of The Hobbit. Jemima Catlin won the distinct pleasure of creating this children’s illustrated edition by way of a university final art project. She decided to create an illustrated edition of another Tolkien short story, titled Roverandom, for her university final. In doing so, she contacted HarperCollins Publishers asking if they could send her the Roverandom text so she could bind it together with her illustrations, into a book, for her project. As a result, the publisher contact asked her to send him a sample of her project. After an in-person meeting, the publisher sent her project on to the Tolkien estate. While Christopher Tolkien (Tolkien’s youngest son) and his wife didn’t feel her illustrations were representative of Tolkien’s Roverandom tale, she was contacted one year later for a meeting with the Tolkien’s to discuss her illustrating a children’s version of The Hobbit. The result is located here in our collection.
Taken from an interview on the Tolkien Library website, she discusses where her idea for the illustrated cover came from. “TL. I’d wish to add one final question to the interview. Looking at the hobbit sitting against the tree on the cover, is this referring to the famous picture of Tolkien? Showing him as a hobbit? Guess he must have like that!
There is a long story behind the cover! I’ll try to keep it shortish though:
The cover illustration for The Hobbit is inspired by the cover for ‘The Red Fairy Book’ by Andrew Lang. I came across this book while searching ‘red book’ on google images for inspiration for the cover. The image on the front of the Red Fairy Book shows a lady leaning against a tree, and this reminded me of the famous photo of Tolkien sitting at the foot of a tree. I thought it would be nice to draw Bilbo in the same position as Tolkien from that famous photo, a way of including him in my drawing somehow. A month later, before drawing the cover illustration, I found out that The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang was one of Tolkien’s favourite books as a child and a big influence on him! This spooky coincidence lead me to drawing Bilbo at the foot of a tree in the same position as Tolkien, and with trailing vines opposite – similar to The Red Fairy Book. Bilbo had to be facing the other way though so that the tree trunk could wrap around the spine – so this slightly disguised the fact that he was sitting in a similar position to Tolkien” (Collier).
To read more of Jemima Catlin’s interview on the Tolkien Library’s website click here.
To visit her webpage click here.
Catlin, Jemima. The Hobbit. n.d. Website. 22 March 2016. <http://www.jemimacatlin.com/thehobbit.html>.
Collier, Pieter . “Interview with Jemima Catlin about the new illustrated edition of The Hobbit.” 10 June 2013. Tolkien Library. Electronic resource. 22 March 2016. <http://www.tolkienlibrary.com/press/1109-interview-jemima-catlin-illustrated-the-hobbit.php>.