Monday, August 4, 2008

Farewell, Pauline Baynes

Wayne Hammond, who wrote the entry on Pauline Baynes for British Children’s Writers, 1914-1960 (Dictionary of Literary Biography) and has been at work for some time on “an annotated collection catalogue” of her work, reported over the weekend

We’ve just had the sad news that Pauline Baynes, the esteemed artist, illustrator of Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book, Smith of Wootton Major, Bilbo's Last Song, etc., and of Lewis’s Narnia books, passed away a few days ago at her home in Surrey. She would have turned 86 next month.
David Bratman responds here, by reminding us of Tolkien’s first reaction to Ms. Baynes’s illustrations for Farmer Giles: “I am pleased with them beyond even the expectations aroused by the first examples. They are more than illustrations, they are a collateral theme. I showed them to my friends [the Inklings] whose polite comment was that they reduced my text to a commentary on the drawings.”

She will be missed, but her illustrations will never be forgotten. The one shown above is from Smith of Wootton Major.


  1. I was deeply saddened by the news of her death. Condolences to her family and friends.

    Rest in peace.

  2. There's an interesting little bibliographical fact behind the Baynes illustration you use here. In the Ballantine books combined paperback edition of _Smith_ and _Farmer Giles_, the reset text was "corrected" at one point to read "eleven mariners" where the first-ed. text reads "elven mariners". You will note that there are in fact eleven mariners in this drawing.


  3. Thanks for the comment, Carl. I wasn’t aware of that! But by a strange happenstance, I’ve got my copy of Hammond’s Descriptive Bibliography here before me, and sure enough: “the text reads ‘eleven mariners’ for ‘elven mariners’, uncorrected through at least the tenth impression, January 1974” (p. 205). I used to have a copy of the combined paperback, but I’m not sure I still do.

  4. You may be interested in reading Brian Sibley's quite personal thoughts on Pauline Baynes' death in his blog here (Monday, August 4):

    Heidi (not logged in for a previous comment on an earlier entry but the same person nonetheless)

  5. Thanks Heidi. I did actually read Brian’s post yesterday (or perhaps the day before). But thank you for sharing the link with other readers. He closes with a photograph of her beautiful, but alas, empty, workspace. Well worth reading/seeing.

  6. 2:44 AM

    I grew up with a copy of 'Fairy Tales from the British Isles', with illustrations by Pauline Baynes. I went on to become an artist myself, and it,and particularly the beautiful and simple black and white illustrations have been an enduring source of inspiration.
    Last night I was looking through the book again, and decided to try and contact Pauline through the internet, only to discover, to my sadness, that I am too late to tell her what her work has meant to me. I'm putting it out there anyway as a posthumous token of appreciation.

  7. Suzanne, thank you so much for leaving this comment. It’s wonderful to hear what Pauline Baynes’s work meant to you, but sad you couldn’t let her know in time. I have heard quite a few stories of near misses like this one and experienced one or two of them myself. :(