August 4th, 2008


RIP Pauline Baynes

From heleninwales comes the news that illustrator Pauline Baynes died last Friday at the age of 86.

There is a lovely, personal, memorial of her by Brian Sibley (thanks again to heleninwales for the link).

She was without question my number one favourite illustrator, not just because she was the definitive illustrator for my favourite childhood author, CS Lewis, and my all-time favourite author, JRR Tolkien. Her style is decorative, linear, slightly oriental - she lived in India as a child - always meticulously researched, and always humorous. I loved the proliferation of dogs and birds that ran through her drawings. Like a medieval illuminator, she seemed to enjoy putting in all the things that she loved in her work. No doubt, insiders would recognize people or animals close to her in her illustrations, as it's possible to do in the drawings of Trina Schart Hyman, my second fave illustrator.

I am happy that I've made a practice of collecting as much of her work as I could over the years - her book illustrations, at least, much as I would like one of her original drawings or paintings. One of my most prized possessions is a hard-cover copy of The Dictionary of Chivalry, for which she won the Kate Greenaway award. I also have the Map of Middle Earth and a jigsaw puzzle of both that and the map of Narnia. I grew up in the generation that knew her covers for the Puffin editions of the Narnia books, and still have all of them. Here's the cover of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Much as I admire Chris Van Allsberg's recent covers for the Narnia books, it is Pauline Bayes' illustrations that define Narnia for me, and probably for most of us. I'm glad that they've recently re-issued the books with new colour illustrations.

She was a quiet, unassuming, gentle person, but her work was exquisite. Happily, it will live on.


They flew right over my house today! Of course, I ran in for my camera and got some rather nice shots (more on my photostream at Flickr - click through this one to see)


In case you don't know, the Snowbirds are Canada's precision flying team, and they are rather wonderful.