“Met C.S. Lewis. Came home. Made rock cakes.”

Paulinehomebnnr4 I can’t add anything at all to the information already available on the web, but my enthusiasm demands that I introduce this artist  to you in case you don’t already know her name.
Pauline Baynes was the wonderful illustrator who illustrated most of J.R.R. Tolkein’s works as well as all the Narnia books  and many others.

Brian Sibley, an amazingly prolific British writer who knows everyone and everything as far as I can tell, put up a lovely tribute page to Pauline Baynes where I got some of this information. http://www.paulinebaynes.com/

IMG_1809From Brian Sibley:
Tolkien had written Farmer Giles of Ham, a humorous novella about dragons and knight-errantry set in a faux-medieval period, but was dissatisfied with the work of the artist who had been chosen asillustrator. Baynes’s work caught Tolkien’s eye and she got the job, creating a lively set of pictures that wittily pastiche the look of illuminated medieval manuscripts. So perfectly did Baynes capture the essence of Tolkien’s tale that he declared them to be “more than illustrations, they are a collateral theme”. He also delighted in reporting that friends had said that her pictures had succeeded in reducing his text to “a commentary on the drawings”.

IMG_1811It was her association with Tolkein that made it possible for her to meet C.S. Lewis. However, they only met twice in person, and while they were cordial,  he never really had a great respect for her work, even though it became so popular and depicted Narnia so beautifully. He told his biographer that “she couldn’t draw lions.”
IMG_1812I wonder whether he liked her dragons.

IMG_1813When I was a kid, I never considered that the author and the illustrator might be so separated from each other. That particular set of illustrations goes with that book, and no others will do. It would make more sense if the author and illustrator worked together, and it does seem that way in all the best books. So I’m somewhat mystified that anyone who loved Narnia could be so crazy as to suggest it needed new illustrations, which has happened in recent years. Pauline Baynes’s illustrations ARE the Narnia illustrations.

imagesbI’m sure I was an adult before I recognized her connection to the cover of that famous Penguin edition of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that she drew, and I had never noticed her other works until I started going to library book sales.

imagesmRemember this one? I traded a boxed set of three paperbacks of the Lord of the Rings to my brother for this fat copy when I was twelve.  Always regretted that for some reason. I love boxed sets and still have my old boxed set of paperbacks of the Narnia books, too.

$T2eC16h,!)EE9s2uiwPRBSFeLgruKg~~60_35Mine look as worn as these do.

The way I predict a book will be good is if it has illustrations I like. I guess it’s because I’m so visually oriented. I always judge a book by its cover, although now I have an awareness that maybe I shouldn’t be so consistent about it. But  I bought books that way for many years while I was homeschooling my kids, and got some gems from the library sales that would have otherwise been ignored. There must have been a golden age of illustration in England as well as the USA, because I discovered some terrific illustrators over the years. Now, of course, I’ve learned the names of most of the illustrators I love best. But I digress.

Again from Brian Sibley’s site:

“Met C.S. Lewis. Came home. Made rock cakes.” That’s how Baynes’s diary recorded one of only two meetings she ever had with the author whose work she so memorably pictured and with whom she is now inextricably linked. The relationship between author and artist was cordial and professional but without the depth of respect and affection existing between Baynes and Tolkien. For readers of the books, however, the pictures were, and have remained, an integral part of the whole culture of Narnia – not even displaced by the big-screen dazzlements of the recent movie versions.

narnia-mapI still have this poster that I got in the ’70s. Not sure where the big one of Aslan ended up, though. I had them both in my room as a teenager.

In her article “The Woman Who Drew Narnia,” Charlotte Cory relates her own childhood reaction to the death of C.S. Lewis and also describes that moment of truth when she realized that the stories were a Christian allegory.  If you were also a Narnia reader from an early age, do you remember the moment that you recognized the religious parallels? I also remember feeling “conned” but since that happened when I was older, it didn’t traumatize me as much as the previous event when I found out Narnia wasn’t “real.” Interestingly enough, Pauline Baynes did not recognize it at all when she drew all those pictures, it only came to her years later. Charlotte’s story is really worth reading:

IMG_1804Don’t you love that the mountains and hills have eyes? I do.

Finally, here’s a link to the Google Images page that shows a huge collection of her illustrations. If you’ve liked what I’ve shown you so far, you’ll love that page, too.



5 responses to ““Met C.S. Lewis. Came home. Made rock cakes.”

  1. Pauline Baynes’s (? sp) artwork is in a class of its own and I L.o.v.e. the dragons. I wonder if C.S. wasn’t to art like some people are to colour (blindness). Good reading, Jeanne. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Personally, I hate using only an apostrophe to make the possessive of a singular noun ending in s. I have seen it with z as well, which just looks weird. The entry in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by HW Fowler (1965) claims that in older poetry only the apostrophe was used and an additional syllable was not pronounced, but that the usage has changed to the full apostrophe s, and an additional syllable is pronounced. After that the entry gets confusing and irritatingly pedantic, aside from the delightful mention of “for goodness’ sake”. I can’t recall ever seeing that written as a possessive, although it obviously is one. One final mention is “for conscience’ sake” which is also fun. But then I’m amused by just about anything quirky. So my feeling is that we should add both the apostrophe and the s whenever the possessive is pronounced with an extra syllable, and thus I usually write it that way in the hope that someone is delightful enough to notice (my admiration goes to Ms. Crap-Cutter). I always felt obligated in class to teach the common American apostrophe-only rule, although I was inwardly seething.
    I too (no commas around that please) have Ms. Baynes’s (The spell-checker dislikes this, but I will not give it the same praise as I offer Ms. Crap-Cutter, being as the program cannot appreciate the apostrophe-s’s true splendor.) illustrations forever linked with Narnia in my imagination. As for the final illustration, it is common knowledge that the hills and mountains do have eyes, especially if you are hiking a trail alone. You instinctively feel them looking for the insect that is crawling across their skin, just as you intuitively know, deny it as you may, that a mouse is watching you from under a piece of furniture across the room at this very moment.

  3. Yes, that was me, the Land-Venturing Squid. The blog’s’s’ auto-sign-in doesn’t always follow me from one computer to the next.

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