N Marion Hage writes: I write for Andwerve Literary Journal, a Los Angeles based publication. I’m an avowed Ring Nut and recently had the chance to interview Barbara Remington, who illustrated the first licensed version of The Hobbit and the three The Lord of the Rings books for Balentine.
Barbara discusses the crazy atmosphere surrounding the Tolkien novels, how in haste to beat “Ace” to the punch, Balentine gave her the impossible task of illustrating a story she’d never seen, something they’d done once before when they asked her to illustrate The Hobbit. Barbara is a devoted Tolkien fan and sought afterwards to get permission to publish a book of illustrations based on an informed knowledge of the story, but the Tolkien estate balked. Although she laments not having seen the books first, she takes it all in stride, explaining that no one had a clue what they were dealing with when Lord of the Rings came to America.
I’ve seen Barbara’s illustrations and they are indeed quite good. She is in my mind a precious treasure and part of Tolkien Lore. She laughed at Tolkien’s comments on “The Pumpkin Tree”, but didn’t take it personally, and understood fully why he was initially frustrated with Balentine for printing The Hobbit with a lion on the cover, when there was no lion in the book. Here is a link to the interview. [More]