Tolkien Calendar 2015 features artwork from artist Mary Fairburn from The Lord of the Rings (26.03.14 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

The Tolkien Calendar 2015 will feature the beautiful and important full-color artwork from artist Mary Fairburn that brings to life scenes from The Lord of the Rings. The official Tolkien Calendar 2015 includes 12 lush paintings, one for each month.

Mary Fairburn, an artist who corresponded with Tolkien in the 1960s ( and he bought one of her paintings). This calendar collects together all of her The Lord of the Rings paintings, about half of which have never been seen before.

Celebrate every day of 2015 with this gorgeous full-color official Tolkien wall calendar that captures the excitement of J. R. R. Tolkien’s beloved classic The Lord of the Rings. Illustrated by some of the lesser known Tolkien artists (but very loved by Tolkien himself), the Tolkien Calendar has been an annual tradition for fans worldwide for more than 40 years.
Tolkien Calendar 2015 features artwork from artist Mary Fairburn from The Lord of the Rings

The artwork for The Lord of the Rings by Mary Fairburn

In May 1968 Tolkien was sent a number of samples of illustrations for The Lord of the Rings by a thirty-five-year-old woman writing from Winchester, Mary Fairburn (1).

The first response to Mary Fairburn was a typewritten letter in which Tolkien told her that he thought the pictures were “splendid. They are better pictures in themselves and also show far more attention to the text than any that have yet been submitted to me”. She had sent at least three pictures, including a pen-and-ink illustration of Gandalf on the tower of Orthanc, and “a little sketch of Gollum”. Tolkien continues, “After seeing your specimens I am beginning to . . . think that an illustrated edition might be a good thing”. This is particularly significant. He did not simply like Miss Fairburn’s pictures: he liked them as illustrations of the book. This in contrast to the art of Cor Blok who Tolkien said were "most attractive, though bad as illustrations".

Mary Fairburn’s surviving Middle-earth illustrations have for forty years hung on the walls of a friend’s house in Derbyshire, to whom they were given after her hopes of a major commission as a book illustrator had been disappointed.

The nine works depict The Old Forest (the departure from Bombadil’s house), The Inn at Bree, The Pass on Mount Caradhras, The Bridge at Khazad-Dum, Galadriel at the Well in Lorien, The Great River, Treebeard with Pippin and Merry, Gandalf on the Tower of Orthanc, and Sam and Frodo in Mordor with a Nazghul (probably the picture also described as the Dead Marshes). It is clear that Tolkien saw Gandalf on Orthanc, the Gollum sketch (now lost), Galadriel and the Inn at Bree. We can not be sure he saw the others, but the artist believes he did.
artwork from artist Mary Fairburn from The Lord of the Rings
Mary Fairburn Gandalf on the Tower of Orthanc
Mary Fairburn Lothlorien
Mary Fairburn - The Old Forest

Despite tolkien's ethusiasm for her illustrations, the illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings, was never produced. In 1976, the artist moved to Victoria, Australia, where she currently lives, and works as an artist and musician. Her work has been exhibited in England, Italy and Australia.

Mary Fairburn’s images are a particularly significant response to The Lord of the Rings, and the artist’s correspondence with Tolkien makes them uniquely interesting and valuable. It may be argued that Tolkien was – irrespective of his actual feelings – usually polite to admirers who sent him their creative tributes to his work. Still I'm very much looking forward to see all the artwork by May Fairburn.

Title: Tolkien Calendar 2015
Mary Fairburn

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date:
28 Aug 2014

ISBN-10: 0007557248
ISBN-13: 978-0007557240
Title: Tolkien Calendar 2015
Mary Fairburn

Publisher: Voyager

Publication Date:
16 Sep 2014

ISBN-10: 0062356976
ISBN-13: 978-0062356970


(1) Read the full story in An Unknown Vision of Middle-earth, Paul Tankard, The Times Literary Supplement of 12 September 2012.

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