HarperCollins have revealed the cover art of the 2015 Tolkien Calendar. The calendar, due to be released on 28 August 2014, will include artwork by Mary Fairburn, who first sent her artwork to Tolkien 46 years ago.
Mary Fairburn sent her images to Tolkien in May 1968. Tolkien replied, “splendid. They are better pictures in themselves and also show far more attention to the text than any that have yet been submitted to me“. Tolkien wished for her images to form part of an illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings, but the publishers, Allen and Unwin, felt that an illustrated edition would be too expensive.
The official description from HarperCollins states:
The Official Tolkien Calendar for 2015 features 12 paintings by the artist Mary Fairburn. These paintings were championed by Tolkien for an illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, and this is the the first time they have all been published.
Tying in with the 60th Anniversary of the original publication of The Lord of the Rings, this year’s Official Tolkien Calendar features the complete set of a dozen paintings by Mary Fairburn, whose correspondence with J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1960s came close to resulting in the first ever illustrated edition, until the publishers decreed that it would be too expensive.
Unseen for 50 years, Mary’s remarkable paintings are at last gathered together in this calendar, including three brand-new compositions commissioned especially for this publication. The calendar includes an insightful essay by Paul Tankard, which discussed the genesis of the paintings and Mary’s correspondence with the author.
The Official Tolkien Calendar has been an established publishing event for Tolkien fans and Hobbit collectors for the last four decades. Tying in with the diamond anniversary of The Lord of the Rings, the 2015 edition is a truly remarkable addition to the series, revealing some fascinating history about Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.
You can read more about this story on Tolkien Library.