In October 2015, Lord of the Rings fans got a never-before-seen look at the land of Elves and Hobbits, when J.R.R. Tolkien's annotated Middle-earth map was found in a collection of papers belonging to illustrator Pauline Baynes. Oxford's Bodleian Library bought Tolkien's map for roughly £60,000, and will exhibit it for a limited time.
Baynes, who died in 2008, "was the only artist personally approved by [Tolkien] during his lifetime," and also provided illustrations for the Chronicles of Narnia, written by Tolkien's friend, C.S. Lewis. Tolkien's annotated Middle-earth map helped her develop the illustrative map she designed, first published in 1969, which included locations not seen on Christopher Tolkien's original addendum to his father's novels.
Among Tolkien's annotations are notes on the location of several Middle-earth cities and landmarks, many of which have strong ties to existing places in the U.K. and abroad. As it turns out, Tolkien shares a hometown with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, because "Hobbiton is assumed to be approx [ sic ] at latitude of Oxford," according to his notes. Gondor capital Minas Tirith falls in the same place as Belgrade, Serbia, on the same latitude as Ravenna, Italy. Tolkien's annotated Middle-earth map also includes notes on the proper placement of elephants, camels, marshes, and other geographic quirks not found on his son's 1954 illustration.
Originally planned as a single-day event, the map will be on display for Bodleian Library visitors through Friday, June 24.
Image: New Line Cinema