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The Lord of the Rings: The Lost Pictures

Dunedin (Friday 30 November 2012) – Tolkien never wanted his classic fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings, to be illustrated…not even by himself. The artworks of Mary Fairburn changed his mind – but never made it to print. So, what happened to them? Dr Paul Tankard of the University of Otago has been on a quest for the lost paintings and their story. On Wednesday 12 December, Tankard will be at the Dunedin City Library to talk about his own ‘unexpected journey’.

As Dr Tankard argues, none of the familiar images of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth can be said to represent Tolkien’s own vision. Fans of his books will be surprised to learn that the work of the one artist who appeared to share his vision remains unknown and unpublished. One of her paintings, of Galadriel at the Well, was purchased by Tolkien and remained with the Tolkien family, although its story was lost. Instead, the artist found herself destitute, and was compelled to trade-in her series of illustrations to help repay a debt.

Until earlier this year, the only people who knew of the paintings have been their owners and the artist herself.

Like a character in one of Tolkien’s stories, Paul Tankard has been on a journey, tracking down the pictures and correspondence between artist and writer, and has returned home to tell the tale.

The audience members will finally be able to see Tolkien’s vision for his books, expressed through the unique artwork of Mary Fairburn, and learn about the unusual relationship between the 76- year old Tolkien and his young illustrator, before their collaboration was lost to fate and circumstance.

Audience members are encouraged to book their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

The Lord of the Rings: The Lost Pictures

Tolkien never wanted his trilogy illustrated…until he saw the works of Mary Fairburn.

Dr Paul Tankard unveils the long lost tale of Tolkien, the destitute artist and their unpublished vision.

Wednesday 12 December, 6.00pm

4th Floor, City Library


Bookings essential: 03 474 3690 or library@dcc.govt.nz


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