One literary map to rule them all slipped out of an old edition of The Lord of the Rings.

Bottom right corner of the map (Blackwell’s Rare Books)

The time has come for the dominion of men maps, for an incredible rendering of Middle-earth, covered in annotations by J.R.R. Tolkien, has been discovered.

The map could have easily been lost forever, having slipped out of an old edition of The Lord of the Rings belonging to the late famed illustrator Pauline Baynes. Baynes had been using the map to work on her own full-color poster edition of Middle-earth for Tolkien, who in turn, gave her precise and copious notes on the same document. The Guardian reports:

Blackwell’s [Rare Books], which is currently exhibiting the map in Oxford and selling it for £60,000, called it “an important document, and perhaps the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years at least”.

It shows what Blackwell’s called “the exacting nature” of Tolkien’s creative vision: he corrects place names, provides extra ones, and gives Baynes a host of suggestions about the map’s various flora and fauna. Hobbiton, he notes, “ is assumed to be approx at latitude of Oxford”[.]

It’s an amazing find for LOTR geeks (the Hobbiton/Oxford geographical connection has been hotly debated), and for map lovers in general. The map Tolkien scribbled on here is the same one tucked into many an edition of The Lord of the Rings since in the 1950s. Countless LOTR devotees have traced their fingers along this version of Middle-earth, following Frodo’s quest from the Shire through the Misty Mountains and into the fires of Mount Doom.

There may be a lot of literary maps in this world. But now, more than ever, there is one to rule them all.

Top left corner of the map. (Blackwell’s Rare Books)
Top right corner of the map. (Blackwell’s Rare Books)
Bottom left corner of the map (Blackwell’s Rare Books)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A heavy layer of smog over Paris
    Environment

    How Much Are You 'Smoking' by Breathing Urban Air?

    A new app can tell you (and it’s not pretty).  

  2. A sububan office park
    Design

    Can Detroit's Suburbs Survive a Downtown Revival?

    The city is experiencing a sustained real estate boom, poaching employers—even pro sports teams—from surrounding municipalities. Places like Southfield, Pontiac, and Dearborn will have to find ways to keep up.

  3. Transportation

    When Living Near Transit Doesn't Lower Transportation Costs

    A new study that tracks a decade of real family expenses calls into question a fundamental assumption of affordability research.

  4. Transportation

    Why New York City Stopped Building Subways

    Nearly 80 years ago, a construction standstill derailed the subway’s progress, leading to its present crisis. This is the story, decade by decade.

  5. Equity

    The Most Inclusive U.S. Cities, Mapped

    A new report finds where post-1980 economic growth has been accompanied by inclusion of low-income residents and communities of color.