London: George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1973. Pauline Baynes. 6th Impression. Small Octavo. (16 cm.) 62 pp. Illustrated paper boards. Very mild edgewear. Original publisher's price sticker affixed to bottom verso. Fine. Item #95
The elegant dance on the pages of "Smith of Wootton Major" between the famous, but aging writer of imaginary worlds and the younger, energetic illustrator and artist, makes J.R.R. Tolkien's final allegorical novella a tiny, but powerful literary gemstone. Pauline Baynes, a talented commercial artist, had made maps and Marine charts during the Second World War, but finally made her artistic mark as a children's book illustrator. Her over 200 illustrated books would eventually include C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" and Tolkien's shorter works. Baynes' art was delicate, with a bit of celtic flair which Tolkien believed favored his novellas about the linked worlds of the real and imaginary, the human and the fairy and the young and the wise. Baynes' art for Tolkien's final narratives also included "Farmer Giles of Ham" and "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil". The harmony of artist and author has ultimately elevated these so-believed minor works into timeless collectible classics unto themselves.