Hardcore fans almost certainly already know their way around Middle-earth, but you’ve probably never seen J.R.R. Tolkien’s hand-annotated map of the Lord of the Rings world.
Bodleian Libraries has acquired a rare map of Middle-earth that has been annotated by Tolkien himself, featuring handwritten scribbles and notes about the universe he created. The map was apparently created by Tolkien and illustrator Pauline Baynes, with the annotations coming circa 1969. Considering the amount of detail Tolkien put into creating this world on the page, it’s no surprise he’d stress over how it’s rendered on a map.
Among the gems from Tolkien’s scribbles? “Hobbiton is assumed to be approx. at [the] latitude of Oxford.” Good to know. You can also see the recommendations Tolkien made (adding certain animals to certain areas of the map, etc.) and how Baynes pretty much followed them all. He also included notes on the potential climates of each area, so the artist would know how to draw the plant life.
The annotated copy of the map was basically hidden for decades, until it surfaced in October 2015 as part of a rare book sale in Oxford.
Check out a copy of it below (click the image to make it gloriously big) and let us know what you think:
(Via Bodleian Libraries)