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Tolkien-notated Middle-earth map found in copy of 'The Lord of the Rings'

An illustrator's personal copy of "The Lord of the Rings" contains a map with handwritten notes from J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

It's a find that would thrill most readers. A map of Middle-earth annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien himself is discovered tucked into the pages of a copy of "The Lord of the Rings." This particular book was owned by Pauline Baynes, an illustrator who notably worked on illustrations for C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. She died in 2008.

Blackwell Rare Books in the UK is offering items from Baynes' personal book collection in an upcoming sales catalog. That's how the shop discovered the map of Middle-earth with handwritten notes from Tolkien himself. It appears to be in preparation for Baynes' work on a color map of Middle-earth that was first published in 1970.

The map with the notes on it was created by in the early 1950s by Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien's son, for the first edition of "The Lord of the Rings" (the book more familiar to some as three individual volumes beginning with "The Fellowship of the Ring"). Baynes went on to develop the more elaborate color map using the original as a starting point along with the input from the author himself.

A closer look at the upper-right-hand corner of the map.

Blackwell Rare Books

Any material from Tolkien's hand that hasn't been extensively examined is cause for excitement for fans and scholars. The map offers up some interesting tidbits, including a note from Tolkien reading "Hobbiton is assumed to be approx. at the latitude of Oxford." Hobbiton is a peaceful village located on a stream.

Tolkien also wrote "Minas Tirith is about the latitude of Ravenna," a city in Italy, which has led to speculation that the town may have helped inspire the fortified fictional city of Minas Tirith, as well as giving other notes about geography and environment. The map contains additional notes in Baynes' handwriting.

According to the Tolkien Society, a Tolkien fan club, the map "has been known to exist" since the time of Baynes' death. The map is on display, shown framed in this tweet from Blackwell, at Blackwell's shop in Oxford, where it is reportedly up for sale for £60,000 (about $92,200, AU$127,000).

(Via The Guardian)