This is a pretty incredible find: a map of Middle Earth featuring annotations from its creator, J.R.R. Tolkien was recently discovered in a copy of a book owned by illustrator Pauline Baynes, which sheds some light on some of the inspiration behind it.

Baynes had been tasked with illustrations by publisher Allen & Unwin in 1970, and worked with Tolkien to her own map of Middle Earth. Tolkien suggested various edits regarding the locations of cities and flora and fauna of the land.

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The notes also suggest that there were some real-world inspirations for the world: Hobbiton was to be located roughly in the same place as Oxford, while other real cities stood in for other locations:

The novelist also uses Belgrade, Cyprus, and Jerusalem as other reference points, and according to Blackwell’s suggests that “the city of Ravenna is the inspiration behind Minas Tirith - a key location in the third book of the Lord of The Rings trilogy”.

Tolkien’s epic has often been described as a sort of alternative mythology for the British Isles, and it stands to reason that there were some real-world parallels which he drew in from his surroundings. If anything, they served as useful reference points.

[The Guardian]

Image Credit: Blackwell’s Rare Books