While J.R.R. Tolkien's love of language played a great role in his story-telling (he invented a language before creating a fictional species to speak it), map-making was another essential, if often overlooked, part of his writings. Tolkien once said: “Believable fairy-stories must be intensely practical. You must have a map, no matter how rough. Otherwise you wander all over the place. In The Lord of the Rings I never made anyone go farther than he could on a given day.”
Making the maps that shaped the story of Middle Earth was a father-son effort. Tolkien drafted his own maps for writing, but his son, Christopher, is credited with making the maps used in publishing. In 1969, Tolkien gave permission and assistance to Pauline Baynes in creating an early, authoritative map of Middle Earth (see below).
|This map of Middle Earth was painted by Pauline Baynes in 1969. Design by J. R. R. Tolkien, C. R. Tolkien, Pauline Baynes. Copyright © George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1970.|
An Excerpt from J.R.R. Tolkien's Mythopoeia:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.