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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.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
Oh nooo... I LOVED her drawings. She also illustrated "Smith of Wooton Major," and one picture from that--Smith dancing in fairyland, I loved so much that I copied it and put it on my wall when I was a kid.

Yes, her illustrations will always be Narnia for me. Another of my favorites is all the kings and queens of Narnia, meeting Prince Tirian, and Lucy laughing. I can see it in my mind's eye as I write this. And the page in the book of spells that Lucy looks in in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Yes, I remember them all so well...

Aug. 4th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love her drawings for Smith of Wooton Major. I, believe it or not, actually own the first edition of that! I also love the illustrations in Farmer Giles of Ham - they are so amusing. There's a dog that keeps looking as if he thinks Giles is nuts. And I have an old Ballantyne paperback called, I think, Songs and Poems of Middle Earth, that she did the cover and illustrations for. Her picture of Goldberry from the song of Tom Bombadil is beautiful.

Well, I'm sad, but she was quite elderly and she has such a wonderful legacy. I actually wept at Trina Schart Hyman's death because she died of breast cancer still relatively young.
Aug. 5th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was really sad when Trina Schart Hyman died, too--I was very, very fond of her illustrations and had written to her a couple of times about a story of my dad's [LOL... I have only one dad ] (which I thought would be great with her illustrations). She had also done the covers for some of Lloyd Alexander's books, plus illustrated one of his picture books.

more sighs...

And yes, I love that picture from Songs and Poems of Middle Earth! Good memories :-)

Edited at 2008-08-05 12:04 am (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
As you know, I bought the new colour editions for S's birthday, and they're gorgeous. Though they're paperbacks, the books are also printed on thick, slightly glossy paper, so the illustrations have a lovely setting. I would heartily recommend these to anyone seeking to purchase a Narnia set. I hope Ms. Baynes knew how much she added and was about to add to people's enjoyment of Lewis's work. I imagine many told her!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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