Monday, 4 August 2008

PAULINE BAYNES: QUEEN OF NARNIA AND MIDDLE-EARTH


Pauline Baynes
(1922-2008)

It is with deep sadness that I write these few words about our dear friend, Pauline Baynes, who died, on Friday, in the cottage in Dockenfield, Surrey, where she had lived and worked for many years.

There are certain illustrators whose work is so intimately interwoven with the author's text as to rank as the books' co-creators. Sir John Tenniel, for example, the first illustrator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and E H Shepard who, with A A Milne, led us into the world of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Similarly, Pauline Baynes' pictures of country and denizens in C S Lewis' seven Chronicles of Narnia are still - despite the recent big-screen movie imagery - the definitive depiction of that extraordinary land beyond the wardrobe...




I can remember, precisely, where I was when I read each of the Narnian Chronicles: for example, I read The Magician's Nephew one winter's day curled up before an open fire while my mother was making cakes and pastry on the kitchen table.

Once glance at the vista on the jacket of the Puffin paperback edition of that book still not only evokes what is, for me, the essence of the land of Narnia - with its seashore, mountains, woods and lakes - but also gives me back a specific day from the tenth year of my life!


I first met Pauline almost thirty years ago, in October 1979, at a 'Narnia Book Fair' held at Church House Bookshop, Westminster. I was carrying one of my most treasured possessions: a copy of Tolkien's The Adventures of Tom Bombadil which the author had signed for me ten years earlier. She added her own signature to the title page, doubling its value to me as a collector.


Following that initial meeting, we kept in touch, collaborated on a book, The Land of Narnia, and, during the past 10 years, became close friends.

After the death of my and David's mothers, she became a kind of adoptive mum and (perhaps because she had no children of her own) interested herself in what we were doing and fussed over and cared for us in the various ups and downs of our lives. We loved her dearly and are deeply aware of how we – and others in her extended adopted family – are going to miss her...

She had a ceaselessly inquiring mind and energetically debated every topic imaginable. She could be sharply critical and quixotically changeable; she never suffered fools gladly, sniffed out cant and hypocrisy in a second and enjoyed nothing better than the kind of conversation which could veer from total seriousness to helpless laughter.

But all these are personal feelings and what I want to do in this posting is remind people of the extraordinary talent possessed by this modest, unassuming woman who created images that define the childhoods of millions...

After producing illustrations for various books of fairy tales, Pauline Baynes' career was established when, in 1949, J R R Tolkien's publishers showed the author of The Hobbit a portfolio of her artwork. Tolkien had written Farmer Giles of Ham, a fanciful novella with a faux-medieval setting, and being dissatisfied with the pictures that had been produced for the book was looking for a new illustrator.


Pauline produced a series of witty line illustrations that perfectly caught the essence of Tolkien's story to an extent that he declared them to be "more than illustrations, they are a collateral theme." He also delighted in reporting that friends had said that the pictures had reduced his text to "a commentary on the drawings"!

Pauline revisited the story of Farmer Giles and his exploits with the somewhat reluctant dragon, Chrysophylax Dives, on several occasions such as for the 50th edition of the story published in 1999...


It was the beginning of a long friendship between author and illustrator with Pauline decorating Tolkien's subsequent books, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Smith of Wootton Major.


It had been Tolkien's wish that Pauline should illustrate The Lord of the Rings, but the book grew into a project that rendered that plan impractical although it was her slipcase design for the three volumes that was adapted as a cover for the first one-volume paperback edition - providing what was, for an entire generation, a peek into the essentially English landscape of Middle-earth...


Posthumously Pauline illustrated Tolkien's Poems and Stories (including Leaf by Niggle) and Bilbo's Last Song. She also created that memorable map of Middle-earth that was a feature of thousands of student bedrooms...

Click to enlarge

I remember Pauline telling me that she always wondered whether Tolkien's wife, Edith, had ever actually read her husband's magnum opus. Her doubts stemmed from the day she took her artwork for the Middle-earth map to show the author. Above the map she had drawn the figures of the Nine Walkers – Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Gandalf, Boromir, Legolas, Gimli, Merry and Pippin - setting out on the Quest of the Ring; beneath the map she had added an array of villains: marauding Orcs, the Nine Black Riders, Gollum and, the bottom right hand corner, Shelob.

Tolkien was pleased with the map – apart from one mis-spelled name that had to be corrected – and called to Edith to come and see. "Look what Pauline's done," said Tolkien. Edith scrutinized the map and the two groups of characters and then - pointing to Shelob - said: "Ooo, look at that horrid spider!"


It was the collaboration with Tolkien that resulted in Pauline's subsequent association with the septet of children's novels by C S Lewis beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and known, collectively, as The Chronicles of Narnia.


 "Met C S Lewis. Came home. Made rock cakes." That, according to Pauline, was how she recorded in her diary one of the two meetings she had with the author whose work she so memorably embellished. It tells you exactly how she viewed her contribution to books that, for millions, of us were seminal childhood reading.


The illustrations for the Lewis books contributed significantly to their success and now are inseparable from the text, but she illustrated over a hundred other books as well as designing jackets and frontispieces for others and contributing numerous decorative pictures (left) to the illustrated magazines which proliferated in the 1940s and '50s such as The Sphere, The Tattler and The Illustrated London News. Her artistic output was astonishing: designs for inn signs, stained glass, church embroideries and Christmas cards.

Other commissions included pictures for school text books, and fanciful advertisements for a variety of products such as, here (courtesy of her friend, Martin Springett), Huntley and Palmer's biscuits...






Among her finest works (and there are a great many more) should be listed Henri Pourrat's A Treasury of French Tales; Amabel Williams-Ellis' Fairy Tales from the British Isles and The Arabian Nights reflecting her fascination with Persian miniatures.

She also decorated The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes, collected by her friends Peter and Iona Opie; and, spectacularly, Grant Uden's A Dictionary of Chivalry which contained a staggering near-600 illustrations in its margins and won the artist the coveted Kate Greenaway Medal.

She illustrated stories by Helen Piers, Rosemary Harris and Rumer Godden  as well as the final volume of Mary Norton's Borrowers saga and produced another iconic images for the cover of the first paperback edition (right) of Richard Adams' Watership Down.

What her work on these and other books show is her tirelessly painstaking research into the detailing of period costume and architecture and, above all, her extraordinary talent for conveying landscape and depicting natural life – especially animals, whether wild or domestic and, in particular, horses and, of course, dogs which were so much a part of her life.

Her later picture books – many on religious subjects such as All Things Bright and Beautiful, The Song of the Three Holy Children, Noah and the Ark In the Beginning and I Believe – demonstrate the artist's talent for design and her superb mastery of fluid line, gem-like colours and the use of negative space.

 There were also an amazing number of drawings done as favours for charitable organisations and friends. For example, in 1977, I was editing Bandersnatch, the newsletter of the Lewis Carroll Society when the discovery of the 'lost' chapter of Through the Looking Glass and what Alice Found There, featuring a Wasp in a Wig reading a newspaper came to light.

The episode had been dropped from the book at proof stage because John Tenniel had said such a bizarre character was beyond his powers to illustrate. But Pauline proved Tenniel wrong by creating this superb miniature (left) which I featured on the mast-head to Bandersnatch for several years.

Pauline remained prolific until the end of her life, illustrating a selection of writings from the Qur'an and the Book of Job (below) which are still to be published...






Pauline's last completed projects was producing 21 full page illustrations for a story of mine, entitled Oscar the Extraordinary Owl. She was disappointed when a succession of publishers declined the book, and concluded that her style was now too old fashioned and out of step with the current trends in children's publishing.


One day, I trust, someone will recognise again her singular talent for composition and publish some of these works which she made towards the end of her life purely for the pleasure of making pictures – so that they may bring pleasure to others just as her illustrations to the books of Lewis and Tolkien have done for fifty years...

When we visited her a few weeks ago, the drawing board facing in the window that looked out onto her pretty cottage garden, was covered with a series of energetic drawings – each a Baynesian mini-masterpiece of design – illustrating Aesop's Fables (right).

Today, that drawing board lies bare.

The artist is gone; but the artwork that she created lives on...







You can read my full obituary to Pauline Baynes here in The Independent.

Other obituaries appeared in The Guardian and The Telegraph; although unsigned they were written by two more of her close friends, respectively, David Henshall and Charlotte Cory. There was also a full obituary in The Times.

Post Script: According to Pauline's executor (who has read her diaries), she didn't write, "Met C S Lewis. Came home. Made rock cakes." However, I've let it stand because the fact that she said that's what she wrote provides an intriguing insight into her complex character.

Images: Photographs of Pauline Baynes and her drawing board © Brian Sibley, 2008; Art: Copyrights in the illustrations and artworks of Pauline Baynes are held and administered by The Chapin Library of Rare Books.

102 comments:

Boll Weavil said...

First of all Mr B, thanks for bringing us the news. Such people as Pauline are often not acknowledged for the role they played in our lives but at least here, we have a chance to join together in our common loss and remembrances. Many of those remembrances will be, as mine, only from her work so it is good to know that you can tell us something about the person behind those pictures. As for the rest - you have already said it so well.I had that edition of LOTR, that edition of Watership Down and, of course, the pictures of the Narnian Chronicles were the ones I used, and still use, to visualise the story.When the films fail, it is because they cannot conjure up for me, Pauline's pictures. I watched over the years as many different versions of those books came out with different illustrations and it was always a source of pleasure to me that they went back to publishing the Baynes' pictures eventually because no one else ever knew what the Narnians truly looked like.That cover of the 'Magicians Nephew' is superb but so are all the other 6 and I still have my original set from that time.Much later, in 1992, I stood at a new prototype colour photocopier and shamelessly enlarged all the pictures from 'The Land of Narnia' to A3 prints - everyone, several times ! I was so pleased to see new images.It was like someone had found a lost Narnian volume.
I am sure others will have many similar thoughts and memories today.

Brian Sibley said...

Nicely put, Boll... Thank you.

Brian Sibley said...

ASTRID writes...

May I offer my sincerest condolences....?

There's so much of deep feelings and warmth for this lady in your post of today ..... this made me express my heartfelt sympathy to you!

Astrid

A little bit Mrs Baynes' photo reminds me of Klaus' grandma - the 'last' of all our four grandmas we had until 2003.....


Thank you, Astrid.

I'm sure Pauline and Klaus' grandma would have liked one another and, who knows, perhaps they will now one day meet...

Brian Sibley said...

Irascible Ian writes...

Sorry to read your blog this morning about Pauline.

Loved her work which will always be irrevocably associated with the books you mentioned in my mind.

Brian Sibley said...

JEN writes...

I was so sad to read of your loss & the passing of Pauline Baynes on today's blog

The poignant image of her drawing board is very touching to me as an artist as were her illustrations in my childhood dog eared books.

I hope she knew how many people loved her unique work.

You have such a wonderful way of writing, drawing the reader into a privileged glimpse of her life & your world. Thank you.


Thank you, Jen. Yes, she was very aware of how her work was loved, but was too self-deprecating to really believe it true... :-)

Brian Sibley said...

PHILIP writes...

What dreadful news.

I had only met her that one time. I don't know her, so eulogising sounds fake coming from me. All I have are those fleeting impressions you get when meet people for the first time. She did not know me at all, yet she had that quality of making you feel like an old friend walking into her home. She was a lively wit. Modest, but glimpses of toughness there.

A fantastic artist and I would have liked to have known her more.


Thank you sharing your memory, Phil.

Graeme said...

I was saddened to hear that Pauline had died, she was such a talented lady. Time perhaps to get one of her books from the shelf for a while.

PollyPlummer said...

I want to thank you for writing this and offer my condolences upon her passing.

Would you allow me to translate this so I can share it with Spanish speakers, who are also shaken by this news?

Patricia Kennealy Morrison said...

I never met her, but I have long loved her art and artistic sensibility. Anyone who can basically equate CSL and rock cakes in importance is aces in my book. I have a vivid recollection of buying that one-volume LOTR with the fantastic forced-perspective cover art, up and up and up, in a bookstore in Tintagel, on a sunny summer day, long ago. May her journey to Valinor, or Aslan's Country, thrive.

Patricia Kennealy Morrison

Penny said...

Thank-you so much for sharing the news and providing a wonderful eulogy. I have the map of Narnia at the entrance to our computer garret and there are several paperbacks I bought because of her illustrations. I have always admired the elegance and clean lines of her drawings.

LisaH said...

So sorry to read of the loss of your dear friend.
She was such a talented artist - and obviously a very special person.

Glen GoodKnight said...

I am deep moved by Pauline's passing. I was able to meet her twice in 1975 and in 1992 at home in her cottage. Both her home and personality showed the best of the English country life. She was relaxed with a quick mind on both occasions. in 1975 I was able to purchase 4 original Narnian drawings from the books at a local show to which she directed me. In 1992 I was able to personally present to her The Mythopoeic Society's Lifetime Achivement Award. I have come to greatly enjoy her artwork in all its forms, and recently I have been greatly enlarging my collection of her works, hope to send her the bibliography when it was done. Alas that cannot now be done. Her humanity and astonishing creativity will be sorely missed.

Glen GoodKnight, Founder of The Mythopoeic Society and webmaster of Narnia Translations

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for all your comments. And, yes, pollyplummer, I'm happy for you to translate this post.

Anonymous said...

Namarie...

Macrobee said...

I am quite sure many will agree when I say that pictures and drawings very often make a book better - sometimes they are the very memory we keep in mind for all the years of our life. Pauline had that wonderful and unique talent to enrapture the reader to not only appreciate the words but to take in the sights of a wonderful and new world.

Reading Lewis and Tolkien will never be the same again.

Thank you, Brian, for your touching words.

May I also ask for your kind permission to translate your post into German?

Marcel B├╝lles
Chairman, German Tolkien Society

Anne said...

I was eight when I first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I loved the book - to no small extent because of Pauline Baynes' drawings, which made this wonderful world and its talking animals so vivid to the reader. Her map of Narnia has been a feature of my bedroom ...

She had her own very disctinctive style, which I like very much and enjoy recognizing in various books. I'm not aware of other than the books by Lewis and Tolkien to have been translated into Norwegian, though, which is a loss to Norwegian readers.

Now she has passed away, which is a loss to all of us.

Thank you for writing this.
Would you allow me to translate it into Norwegian and post it on my site - with the pictures - as a tribute to her?

Bruce MacDonald said...

Mr. Sibley, thank you so much for your heartfelt and warm insight into this remarkable woman. She will be another name added to my "wish I could have met them" list, near the top where Tolkien's name sits. I wish her friends peace in this difficult time, as her spirit will no doubt shine in each of you a little bit.

Bruce

Brian Sibley said...

Yes, to those requests to translate and thank you all for sharing your feelings about Pauline.

dragonladych said...

I'm sorry to read about your loss. Everyone of us who likes to dream and read will miss her too.

I wanted to thank you for sharing this photo of Pauline's workshop, it was very moving to see this. To think of all the magical things that must have happened there...

Brian Sibley said...

POLKADOTS writes...

I have ALL those books and those images (particularly the one of Lucy and Mr Tumnus under the umbrella) are SO MUCH part of my life, so completely familiar to me and so deeply associated with happy memories of childhood and fantasy...

The world IS a better place for her having been here.


You are so right... :-)

Elliot Cowan said...

This is a marvelous tribute.
Well done, Brian.
I actually know most of these illustrations but would never have guessed they were by the same person.

Brian Sibley said...

ELLIOT - Yes, she had a chameleon style that, I think, many artists would envy...

Carl V. said...

Her work, most especially her iconic images for the Narnia books, is wonderful. It made me sad that it wasn't until she passed away that I ever considered who had done those wonderful illustrations. I love the closing image of her studio. First and foremost I am an admitted voyeur when it comes to viewing artist's studio space, and second because it is a very poignant 'image worth a thousand words' now that she has passed away.

Brian Sibley said...

CARL - Thank you for the comment about the photo of Pauline's work desk.

As to your other point: in a way that is a testament to her genius. A lot of people didn't consider who did the illustrations of Narnia perhaps because they almost didn't think of them as illustrations: they were real pictures of a real place!

OR Melling said...

A beautiful part of my childhood has died. Thank you so much for posting this.

Brian Sibley said...

But, in a way, the magic is also immortal...

Ryan Rasmussen said...

Thank you, David, for this loving tribute to the woman and her works. Only this past weekend, in reorganizing my books, I came across some of Pauline's paintings, which for me also evoke special moments of childhood. Now I am pleased to say I know a bit about the artist who helped co-create such a magical time.

Martin Springett said...

Dear Brian, I am so saddened by this news. I knew Pauline, we met about ten years ago when I was briefly comissioned to illustrate a new edition of "Farmer Giles of Ham". I had always loved her work, a big inspiration to me when growing up as a young arty sprog in Appledore Kent, and I wanted my illustrations to pay homage to her work, as well as give it my own stamp of course. The project didn't go through but I am so glad to have known her and visited Rock Barn Cottage, shared tea and very amusing chats with her. I visit lots of schools here in Canada, I live in Toronto, and I always talk about her and her work to young students. The recent films from the Narnia books help make a connection, and then I talk about her amazing drawing abilities and literate imagination. How she was the first to show us what Narnia looked like. She is in my estimation the best of any Tolkien illustrator apart from J R R himself. She allows the viewer to wander through her images, and make discoveries, there are still mysteries there, rather than the over the top photographic detail that is the norm in so much illustrative fantasy work today. She was from another age as she said so often. I have two of her original spot illustrations from "Bilbo's Last Song". I will treasure these and the memory of a beautiful, gentle talented woman who I feel privelidged to have known. I will miss her greatly.
Most Sincerely, Martin Springett.
mspringett@rogers.com

Brian Sibley said...

RYAN - As dragonladych (above) and others have remarked: our sense of loss is heightened because Pauline created pictures that represent for us unforgettable memories from our childhood - what an extraordinary gift to have given us...

MARTIN - You had an additional gift: that of meeting Pauline and being able to share with her as artist to artist. Unfortunately, that gift comes with a heavy price...

Thanks for sharing your Pauline story and somewhere beyond your grief I'm sure you will cherish those memories all the more...

scott said...

Thanks Brian for the tribute, her art will always live in th hearts of all true Narnians. Some 10 years ago, we began a correspondence that lasted over several years and I tried to limit to just a few letters as I knew her time was valuable and felt gulty for taking her time away from her art. Not that she ever implied that, se always answered my letters and my many questions; her penmanship was as beautiful as her drawings. One thing I will always treasure is a small drawing she did for me of what a Narnian lighthouse might look like. It had been some years since I had wrote but she knew how much I admired her work; God bless dear one and thanks again Brian for a loving tribute to a great lady...'once a Queen in Narnia, always a Queen.'

Brian Sibley said...

SCOTT - That, as Professor Kirk would have said, is so true! Thank you for mentioning her remarkable handwriting - a calligraphic script that was, in it's flowing line, almost oriental. And a Narnian lighthouse... wonderful!

emily said...

Dear Brian,
I don't know whether you may be able to help me.
I am a journalist working for a newspaper in Brighton and am writing a tribute piece about Pauline, as she was born in the area.
I have heard so many nice things about her, so it was lovely to come across your blog and read some of your memories of her.
Pauline's publishers have kindly supplied me with some of her illustrations but I am having trouble tracking down a photograph of her and I wondered whether you knew where I would be able to get one from, as I noticed you had a nice one of her on your blog.
If you are able to help I can be contacted at emily.elliott@theargus.co.uk.
Kind Regards

Anonymous said...

Brilliant evocative artist.

Ms Baroque said...

Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I'm very sorry for your own loss.

Pauline Baynes' pictures were so big a part of my childhood that I think I would recognise her style anywhere - in fact, it used to make me very excited as a child if I saw one of her pictures somewhere unexpected, like meeting a friend. She really informed my visual idea of the world; and her line is very mysterious and beautiful.

Susan D-L said...

I’m very sorry to hear of Ms. Baynes passing. Her work was ever clean, lively, humorous and intelligent.

I was first struck by her illustrations for Farmer Giles of Ham and later Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings map and boxed trade set. (I worked in a bookshop in the late 70s and was lucky enough to abscond with one of her wonderful LOTR maps. I still have it. )

The illustrations she was working on towards the end are as vibrant and alive as her earlier work. What a great talent, and such love in her work. Something to aspire to.

Thanks for this tribute to her and her marvelous work. And for the photo of her workspace. What a beautiful corner to make art in.

ktraphagen said...

Thank you for this post. What will be the fate of your story (and the illustrations that Pauline produced) about the 22 owls. I, for one, would love to see the work she produced (and read your story).

Simon Haynes said...

Sad news indeed. The images you've posted above are like a slide show of early memories from my childhood - as familiar as close friends & relatives.

Brian Sibley said...

SIMON - You're right! They were (and still are) part of our family and circle of friends...

I have been very moved by the tributes here to Pauline - both from people she knew and met and those who simply knew her through her wonderful illustrations.

The well over 3000 visits to my blog in the past few days and the many comments that have been made and links that have been added is a testament to the extent to which she and her work were loved and admired.

As to the book we did together, ktraphagen, I will do my best to see that it is, one day, published.

Mike Lacey said...

I've just had an email from Barbara B. giving me the sad news. I have long loved her work and had frequent occasion to be very near Dockenfield on business - it really is very Narnian. I do so wish I'd written to her.
I have been collecting signed copies of her works for some years and managed to acquire six of the original illustrations from Prince Caspian - deeply special and wonderful to me.
I do so wish that the filmmakers had asked he for artistic direction - I really do think that Narnia is Baynesian and nothing else is really good enough.
Rest in peace, Pauline, and thank you for your wonderful work.

Winnydayit said...

My husband wrote to Pauline in 1975 as we both loved her drawings in the Chronicles of Narnia. She replied and over the years he received many letters from her. Sometimes he wouldn't hear anything from her for a while and then a letter or Christmas card would appear. She was a
lovely lady and didn't seem to be aware of her wonderful talent. We never met her but on one occasion my husband asked if he could buy one of her drawings for my wedding anniversary. She sent a beautiful drawing of Noah's Family from the back cover of her book "Noah and the Ark”. She gave it to me as a present and refused to take any payment. It has pride of place on my wall.
I have many copies of books she has illustrated but I think my favourite is "In the Beginning" the drawings of the creation are superb.
We kept in touch with her till very recently, sending her a postcard from our holidays but we hadn't heard from her for a while. So we were very sad to hear she had died.
I will miss seeing her familiar handwriting on an envelope. We have known her all our married life.

Winnydayit said...

How wonderful to have illustrations from Prince Caspian that is really special. She went to see the first film which she quite liked but found it very noisy. I also have some signed copies of her books which I will treasure.
A few years ago I found two Christmas cards one in a Red Cross catalogue and one in Save the Children which I was sure were drawn by her. There was no credit to the artist. I sent them to her and she said she had drawn them both and she signed one on the back for me. She couldn't remember when she had drawn them or how the two organisations had got hold of the drawings.
Sad she got no credit for them or money.
I quite agree with you Narnia is Baynesian and nothing else

Alan Murray said...

Aye - Winnydayit (to whom I am married) has it right. Pauline has been a friend-by-correspondance, whom we never met, for exactly the 33 years that we've been married (her first letter awaited our return from honeymoon!). Her elegant and immeasurably evocative glimpses into Narnia and Middle Earth are, for most of us, definitive. Her wider book illustrations share that graceful way of drawing, often with a circular or elliptical thing going on, such that Winny (not her real name) and I have often sent Pauline photographs of holiday scenes that are "Baynesian" ... with that swirl of leaves, trees, sky, clouds framing a perfectly-drawn scene. She was amused by these. Our children also sent her drawings and got funny, encouraging letters in return.
It's significant, I think, that whoever's covers adorn the Narnia series at any time, it's almost always Pauline's peerless line drawings that are inside ... they ARE Narnia. It's also significant that her drawings moved and impressed the notoriously critical JRRT. That took some doing.
I could witter on for pages, as she was and is on a par with Bestall, Shepard and Rackham. The publishers who declined her book with Brian know and understand diddley-squat about illustration quality and children. A pox and a loss-making year on them!
Thanks Brian, for the affectionate and insightful tribute, but above all, thanks Pauline, for the friendship and your artistic and imaginative genius. You fuelled the imaginations of generations and will do so longer than any of the rest of us put together are ever likely to.
Love from us all ... Alan

Brian Sibley said...

MIKE - I think fans would have approved of the films more if the movie Narnia had looked more Baynesian...

ALAN & WINNYDAYIT - Thank you both for those pen portraits. She loved Shepard, admired Rackham (though not as much as Dulac), and her affinity with Bestall, especially in terms of evocative, haunting landscape, is unquestionably true: I don't think Nutwood can be too far from Narnia... :-)

Alan Murray said...

Indeed. Nutwood and Rupert led me from the "real" world of Biggles and William, through to the fantastical worlds of Narnia, Middle Earth and thence to the rest of my reading life (so far). Alfred Bestall and Pauline/Lewis/Tolkien were and are hugely important to my imagination and also to my perception of the real world. Real trees are more beautiful, because I've met Treebeard and seen Pauline's sweeping limbs and branches in Lewis's Wood Between the Worlds. That dull, dank pine forest of Pines might just conceal a Bestallian Pine Ogre. Pauline, like Bestall, accepted only rather grudgingly the impact that she had on our perceptions of the world and what it might (in our imaginations) contain. She was very modest about her genius.
Thus speaketh a sad (actually happy, despite missing Pauline) old hippy.

Cloudscome said...

Thank you for this tribute. What a singular talent and what extraordinary gifts she gave us.

Brian Sibley said...

A gift indeed... :-)

Diva of Deception said...

As a total Philistine I had no idea, until very recently, who had drawn the wonderful world of Narnia - or many of the other illustrations for books I loved throughout my life.

I am sorry that Brian has lost a wonderful and very special friend, I know how much he treasured her.

For me real magic began with the illustration of Mr Tumnus and Lucy in the woods where it was always winter and never Christmas - a terrible thought for a small child!

Paul F. Ford said...

Brian,

I am so sorry for your loss, and for ours. What a beautiful tribute you wrote!

Blessings,
Paul

Brian Sibley said...

VINEET LAL writes...

I have only, last night, come to hear about Pauline. I saw the page in the Times and then read, on-line, your lovely tribute and the other remarkable tributes in the national press.

I am so distraught to hear about it, somehow you imagine that people like Pauline will always be there and of course in many ways she will - since no-one could ever imagine Narnia without her.

My first reading of TLTW&TW was not dissimilar to your own: my Mum brought it home from her primary school, where she was a teacher, saying: "I've heard this is good. You might like it." And that was the beginning...

I met Pauline Baynes only once, through a most remarkable set of coincidences. On a plane one day flying from London to Edinburgh one of my colleagues had a copy of the 'Evening Standard', and by chance I caught a glimpse of an image of a woman seated at a window, sketching, with the classic Lucy and Tumnus image below. I asked my colleague to save the cutting for me: I was entranced by Pauline's story, and of course it brought back all those memories of learning to appreciate - and enjoy - children's literature. And mentally I made a note that Pauline lived in Farnham, Surrey, and that was that.

And then...

Many months later, a publisher acquaintance at work mentioned that their offices were in Farnham, and would I like to come over and meet the team (for a work meeting) and have lunch. And I said, yes, that would be fine, and how funny - I had never heard of Farnham until the article on Pauline, and I didn't suppose he had ever heard of Pauline Baynes.

There was a momentary silence. Not only had he heard of Pauline: Mrs Gasch (as he called her) was a good friend of himself and his wife, and would I like to meet her? So it was that Pauline and I had fish and chips in a pub in Dockenfield (I can't remember the name) and she was quite delightful, and so self-deprecating, and ceaselessly teased my colleagues over this and that, and was so touchingly bemused that the Narnia books - and her illustrations - should have been so instrumental in my personal and intellectual development, which is true. She was so pleased with the flowers I had brought her (from Sainsbury's in Farnham!) and the last I saw of her was driving away in her long estate car with her beloved dog in the back.

A couple of years later, I had occasion to speak to her one last time: I was working on a very challenging project for VisitBritain called Storybook England, and needed some advice on whether C S Lewis had actually based the Narnian locations on any real places in England.

So, I gave Pauline a ring to ask about places and their visual depiction in the books, and as we talked I mentioned her 'Dictionary of Mythology' that I once received as a school prize and how impressed I was that she had managed to get the Hindu gods drawn so well - and so accurately. She laughed and said that she was actually working on the Qu'ran, and that everyone's impression of the book was so wrong because, in fact, you could draw so many living things to illustrate it.

She was utterly, utterly delightful, and so kind to me, and I will always remember that.

Brian Sibley said...

DIVA and PAUL - Thanks for your messages.

VINEET - I appreciated, and was moved, by your personal recollections of someone whom, I now feel, I am only just beginning to getting to know...

Michael Foster said...

As close friends (and neighbours)of dear Pauline we have been reading her obituaries both in print and on the web, and in particular Brian Sibley's appreciation of her life. This morning we were reading it once more and to our delight found Vineet's contribution and so can't resist adding a comment ourselves as we are the couple he speaks of that introduced him to Pauline.

At the time we were running a company called MFA Publications, with offices just outside Farnham. We were publishers of travel magazines, principally for VisitBritain, and Vineet was an Account Manager there who acted as one of our main points of regular contact, especially for the monthly title, London Planner.

And so it was, as Vineet describes, that he phoned me on the off chance that we knew Pauline, having read that she lived near Farnham. This must have been six or so years ago, and at that time we had been friends with Pauline for about 16 years, the length of time since we moved into Dockenfield, the village where she already lived.

Despite living an increasingly reclusive life, Pauline was only too pleased to accept our invitation to lunch, on the proviso that she chose the pub, the 'Cherry Tree' in a neighbouring village called Rowledge, as at that time the pub that became her favourite in later years, the 'Blue Bell' in Dockenfield, wasn't open.

There is little we can add to the world's appreciation of her work as it has enthralled countless millions across the generations, and will continue to do so for many years to come. But we do feel privileged not only to have counted her as a friend with whom we remained in regular touch, but also to have been to her cottage and seen her at work. A work that so absorbed her that even at 85 she was full of enthusiasm for her current and future projects.

What we would like to add however is an appreciation of her as a friend and neighbour. She loved the cottage where she had lived for over 40 years, and also the village of Dockenfield which she truly took to her heart and to which she was endlessly generous.

In memory of her beloved husband Fritz, she gave a field to the village for the quiet enjoyment of all residents. In springtime it is covered in orchids. We think of her whenever we pass, and at the top of the field there is a seat dedicated to Fritz.

She also designed two glorious stained glass windows, in the local Church of the Good Shepherd.

For some years she served as a Parish Councilor for the village and was a fierce and determined defender of village traditions and way of life.

All the fabulous work she did for C S Lewis, Tolkien and others will mean that the name of Pauline Baynes will live on for years to come and will continue to bring joy to millions. Those who knew her locally will remember her for those skills of course, but also as Pauline Gasch, or simply Pauline, who was a wonderful friend to the village.

Michael and Debbie Foster

Brian Sibley said...

MICHAEL & DEBBIE - I am so moved by the way in which my little blog has extended my knowledge of Pauline and her friends...

Now, through the comments of Vineet (who I also met when he was working on his VisitBritain map), I meet the pair of you...

So many memories are triggered by your remarks: lunches at 'The Cherry Tree' (before 'The Blue Bell' became the place to go); a trip the Good Shepherd church to see the new window despite protestations by the artist that it really wasn't worth looking at; driving back past Fritz's Field on our most recent visit with Pauline noting that it needed mowing and that she would have to get on to someone about it...

I'm so glad that you have paid a 'local' tribute to Pauline because, as anyone who knew her will be aware, her home and garden and the village in which she lived were a vital part of her life.

I am very sad that we can't be at her funeral in the Good Shepherd church as we are flying off to Greece tomorrow.

At the end of my last conversation with Pauline, three days before she died, she said, "Come and see me as soon as you're back and tell me all about it..."

I am still trying to accept that that will now never happen...

Brian Sibley said...

Dr MICHAEL WARD writes...

Thank you for such a well-written and beautifully illustrated piece in memory of Pauline on your blog.

She wrote to me just a few months ago about my book, 'Planet Narnia', and it is hard to believe that I shall now have no chance to continue the correspondence.

What a loss her passing is for us all.

Brian Sibley said...

My thanks to Michael Ward; and anyone who has not read about Michael's book, Planet Narnia can do so here.

The Ginger Darlings said...

I was shocked to hear of Pauline's death. Many thanks for your wonderful tribute to her life and work.
She made Narnia live for so many children and despite anything Mr Tolkein might say I do believe that she could indeed draw lions!
As an illustrator I feel very moved by your beautiful picture of her drawing table at the bottom of the posting. I spent the day working on a dragon today and then listened to Last Word on radio 4 where they talked of Pauline and her work.
She was a star. I understand that much of her work is to go to the USA. Such a shame that we do not value people like Pauline enough until they are gone.
Years ago she invited me to visit, but I am always too wrapped up in painting and working and so I missed the chance. She looked to be a very beautiful person and I regret not taking the time now.
Beautiful pictures. She will be missed by many.
Jackie Morris

Veronica said...

How very sad to have lost such a wonderful illustrator as Pauline Baynes. As another post touched upon, we don't often give illustrators enough recognition for the role their work plays in our memories of childhood. And what a tragedy that someone with so much talent was deemed unsuitable for the current children's market... hope the owl book finds a publisher...

Brian Sibley said...

JACKIE - I'm sorry you never met Pauline in person, although you most certainly met her through her pictures...

(It was C S Lewis, by the way, not Tolkien, who said Pauline couldn't draw lions.)

VERONICA - Pauline would have wished you well in your career. I enjoyed looking at the art on your blog and I hope it makes as big an impact on young readers as Pauline's art did on you and the rest of us...

dragonladych said...

Hi Jackie!
Nice to "see" you here!

Well not wanting to turn this post into a discussion about other people, it deserves to stay about Pauline Baynes. But this made me think:

"She was disappointed when a succession of publishers declined the book, and concluded that her style was now too old fashioned and out of step with the current trends in children's publishing."

That is so sad. I actually find the current trends really odd. I was in Bologna earlier this year, and was appalled to see some of their selections. Kind of gloomy dark art. Almost "conceptual". It's ok to have scary things here and there, kids like to be scared, but it seems to me a lot of this current trend is mostly to please adults. And I am not just saying this because my own art is also kind of "Old school" :D

I'd love to see children books being about the children once again. Pauline's art is just that, she wasn't "merely" illustrating a book, she was giving it life. And she was giving the children a support for their own imagination.

I think that being an illustrator is just that, it's about serving the story, giving the reader a sense of having been in another wolrd, reading about a real place. I think another commenter said something similar and probably better than I do. I really hope that I can do something similar someday, people like Pauline Baynes will always be my role models.

Yvonne said...

What a wonderful person and artist she was. Sad that she is gone.

I hope that there will be a "Collected Works" book, as I would buy it. I love her art-work. I had forgotten that the original cover illustration of Watership Down was one of hers; I love that picture.

Sarah said...

Thanks so much for that insightful and fascinating tribute. There are so many images of hers that I know so well and love.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brian,

Thank you for sharing with us your feelings on the death of your friend. Like Boll, I only knew Pauline through her pictures.

I first became aquainted with her work when I was about eight years old, and ill in bed with chicken pox, or some other childhood illness. My elder sister leapt at the opportunity to read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to me. She loved the Narnia tales herself, of course. I remember being transported by this magical story, and Pauline's illustrations. In fact "magical" seems best to sum up, for me, the impact of Pauline's illustrations for Lewis and Tolkien. Perhaps that is why, as adults, we still cherish these images so dearly!

I have also been struck by the humour so evident in her work, and by the boldness and originality of her concepts. As an illustrator of animals, too, she is peeerless.

Two years ago I attended an exhibition of an illustrator's work at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. For me, at the time, I thought an illustrator truly worthy of such an exhibit would be Pauline Baynes.

Thank you for sharing your memories of her.

Tubby said...

Did not meet her.However, did talk over the phone and corresponded with her...wonderful wonderful woman!

Julie Cook said...

Mr. Sibley,
Thank you so much for your memorial to one of the great illustrators of (not just childrens) literature. I spent my formative years falling asleep and waking up under a poster of Pauline Baynes' map of Middle Earth. It made for very happy dreams. I am truly sorry for the lose of your friend.
Julie Cook

Anonymous said...

I think Pauline Baynes was actually a genius, one of the last great figures of the English illustrative tradition - simply an amazing artist whose technique and style have been a lifelong source of pleasure and inspiration.
I especially love her 'Arabian Nights' illustrations.

Nigel Jackson

Laurie Mann said...

Brian - thanks for much for the details on Pauline Baynes. I used your blog post as her home page when I updated Dead People Server today (sorry it was so late; I've been away).

Laurie

Ian Pethers said...

Hi Brian, so saddened to hear of Paulines death, she brought Narnia alive for all of us, she will be sadly missed but her genius will live forever as a thing of beauty should. Regards, Ian Pethers, artist/illustrator.

Brian Sibley said...

HEIDI writes...

Hello,

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your blog about Pauline Baynes.

I am 35 years old and have seen some of her work, but the many editions later that I have read, do not have the same illustrations. I feel it's important to pass along our history to our children, so I hope you don't mind that I've printed your blog to share with my 2 year old when he is reading the stories she has illustrated.

Her work is classic, and your blog was endearing. Thank you for sharing.

Brian Sibley said...

Apologies for not having answered the many recent comments to this post - but internet connection is difficult in Greece...

However, I continue to be deeply moved by the affection and admiration in which Pauline was held by those whose lives she touched...

Anonymous said...

Pauline Baynes work made real the many dreams and hopes l had as a child - she was unique in every way and will never be forgotten - Brian thank you for your great tribute.

your old friend - Dave H.

Brian Sibley said...

DAVE - How lovely to have a comment from you, though sad it should be about the passing of Pauline... We must talk soon... Bx

Jacob said...

nice post

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, Jacob!

steve said...

I have only just come across this sad news of Pauline's passing and feel as though a friend I never knew has died. Her illustrations were the backdrop to my childhood reading and indeed, are fulfilling the same role all over again as I read my old editions to my children. The Narnia illustrations, the Watership Down cover illustration, the Tolkien illustrations too - all of them are dearly beloved pictures that instantly spring to mind without any effort. I think that's because they just felt so 'right' to my adolescent imagination - the perfect fit between story and illustration.

Brian Sibley said...

You're absolutely right, Steve, that 'fit' between pictures and words is so rare a thing that, when we see it, we instinctively recognise it.

Pauline would have been astonished that so many people have left messages on this blog-posting and continue to do so. I hope we'll always keep her memory green because she was - for all of us - the door-warden to Narnia, Middle-earth and other unforgettable other worlds...

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of years ago I remember looking up and reading an online article from a British newspaper about Pauline Baynes. I was reassured that she was so "young" compared to Lewis and Tolkien, and she seemed so lively from the article that I always hoped I would one day be able to meet her. I looked her up today and was so sad to see this post from last year.

I was nine when I came home from school to find out that not only my President had died that day, November 22, 1963, but also C.S. Lewis. I was probably even more upset that Lewis had died than about the President. I loved the Narnia books so much I used to go to sleep praying I would wake up in Narnia. Pauline Baynes' illustrations were Narnia for me. (Later I discovered The Lord of the Rings and wrote to Tolkien, who wrote back to me a couple of times when I was twelve. I was a rather literate child who loved Greek and Norse mythology and recognized the dwarves' names from the Elder Edda!)

I loved the illustrations from the Narnia books-- so medieval, and I copied them over and over again and learned to draw from them. It did always bother me that Lucy was portrayed with dark hair even though Lewis wrote, "As for Lucy, she was always gay and goldenhaired..." and I wanted to ask Miss Baynes if she had ever noticed that!

In a side note, as a child I promised myself to have a daughter named Lucy because of Narnia. My children grew up loving Narnia too, and in a nice twist of fate, my daughter Lucy worked on the movie "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and has a small credit (and a white "Narnia" hoodie!).

I still hope one day to own one of Miss Baynes' drawings myself, as to me they illustrate why I love medieval art, as well as being embodiment of Narnia and Tolkien's world.

I'm a fan of you and your books, too. I'm sorry I will never get to meet Miss Baynes, but at least you let us feel why we felt that attachment to her. Grant Uden's A Dictionary of Chivalry (1968)

Brian Sibley said...

Dear 'Anon',

I'm sorry you didn't leave a contact, but I thank you for writing of your memories.

No other post on this blog has elicited more comments and that, in itself, is a testament to the extent of people's affection for Pauline's work.

There were times when Pauline felt that she had failed to achieve anything of lasting value and, towards the end of her life (unknown to her), some of her friends worked hard, but unsuccessfully, to get her an honour - an MBE or an OBE - in recognition of her work.

When I read the comments that have been left here, I realise that she needed no formal recognition since she was already firmly locked in the hearts and minds of millions of Honorary Narnians!

Thank you again...

Fial said...

Sorry, Brian. Didn't mean to post anonymously (just above) but clicked the wrong place.

My favorite photo is the one of Pauline Baynes' desk. Thank you for that.

Brian Sibley said...

When I took that photo, of course, Pauline was alive - it just happened that there wasn't a piece of art work on the drawing board at that moment. Later, following her death, the vacant board took on a new significance for me...

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Dale said...

Well, here it is 2010 and I just found out -- shows how I keep up...

But those of us who never knew Pauline Baynes still inhabit all of her worlds!

Brian Sibley said...

Glad you got here in the end, Dale! Come again...

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Natalia said...

Hi Brien
I want to buy Narnia books with her illustrations. Could you please advise me what is the best quality edition with her color illustrations I should look for? I saw many publications are available but I want to find the best.
Thank you in advance
Natalia

Brian Sibley said...

I'm not sure how best to advise you, Natalia. There was a one-volume edition of The Chronicles of Narnia with the original illustrations coloured by PB. I don't think this is any longer in print, but secondhand copies appear on eBay and elsewhere. There were at least two editions of this book: the first with an introduction by myself and a later with an introduction by Douglas Gresham.

I have found listings for paperback editions with the coloured illustrations (such as this one) but I do not know what the quality of the reproduction is like. Sorry not to be more helpful and hoping you find what you are looking for.

Natalia said...

Thank you very much! I think I will buy this.

David said...

Thanks for the article. Best wishes

Brian Sibley said...

Thank you, David.

Wendy Braun said...

Beautiful tribute. I sited it (and your book on Narnia) in my blog post today. Thank you!

Brian Sibley said...

Thank you, Wendy. And I enjoyed visiting your excellent blog.

Miranda Ash said...

Earlier today my husband and I saw the new Narnia film - Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It was such a lovely surprise to see so many of Pauline's beautiful illustrations brought back to life in the closing credits. For me, it was an emotion filled few minutes. I was one of the lucky ones to have spent precious moments of my childhood in her company. I grew up in Dockenfield and both my grandmother, mother, aunt and uncles were good friends of Pauline and Fritz for many years. Pauline had such a beautiful way of bringing stories to life and I'd like nothing more than being occasionally allowed to sit and watch her draw - as long as I was very quiet (bit difficult for a 6 year old!). Years before, my mother would sit and read out loud to Pauline while she was illustrating. We used to play in the woods behind her cottage - to us, it really was Narnia. These are just a couple of countless golden memories of a woman I was honoured to have known.

Thank you Brian for bringing Pauline back to life for me time and time again.

Brian Sibley said...

Miranda - The fact that yours was the 90th comment left on this blog post is testimony to the love felt for Pauline both by those who knew her personally and those who only knew her through the magical worlds she brought to life through her unforgettable illustrations.

I am very honoured to have the memories of another of Pauline's friends added to this blog post. Thank you so much for sharing them with us ...

Stephen King said...

Brian - do you know if Pauline's illustrations of the Qur'an have been published yet?

Wayne Hammond said...

Pauline produced at least sixteen images to accompany selections from the Qur'an, but the project was left incomplete at her death and has not yet been published. Her finished art, as well as sketches, notes, etc., for the work are in the Pauline Baynes Archive which came to the Chapin Library of Williams College by bequest. This group of materials for the Qur'an, incidentally, with multiple translations and research on Islamic art and culture, shows particularly well how thoroughly Pauline could immerse herself in a subject before making her beautiful pictures.

Brian Sibley said...

Thank you for the up-date, Wayne.

Tommy Kovac said...

I know there have already been a ton of comments on this post, and it's long after the fact, but I wanted to give you MY thanks as well for this excellent tribute to, and information about, such a wonderful artist. It's especially exciting to read comments from people who knew her personally. :)

Brian Sibley said...

Never too late, Tommy! Thanks for your adding your thoughts. And I like your blog and website! :)

Anonymous said...

My story is very short. I am a Spanish seventeen student of art. I had known the illustrations of the Narnia books for years but, suddenly, I felt like to look for the illustrator who had done it. The first time I looked for Pauline Baynes on Google was the last Febrary, four months later (drunk with happiness) I unwrapped "A Dictionary of Chivalry". Since that time I have collected more than thirty Pauline's books!
To show you how she has changed my life: since that moment I want to illustrate and design books.

I know that I will never forget her, because she is now part of my life.

Miguel N.J.

P.S.: excuse my grammar or spelling mistakes.

Neotoma said...

I also wish to thank you very much for this very personal and deep writing about Pauline Baynes. I am so glad for the opportunity to read about her, the person, and how she influenced those close to her, as opposed to a colorless encyclopedia entry. Her imaginative pictures certainly inspire me. I hope that your lovely book about Oscar the Owl did get published. It is pitiful to think that the publishers are so out of touch with what actual human beings appreciate (beautiful art NEVER goes "out of style") that they would turn down the chance to print it.

Brian Sibley said...

Miguel and Neotoma – thank you both for your appreciative comments.

Miguel: I wish you very well with your aspirations to be an illustrator; the pictures that appear in the books we read as children, shape us for th rest of our lives.

Neotoma: Sadly, Osric the Owl is still unpublished; but I still keep hoping that one day...

Jennie said...

Brian, Thank you for writing so lovingly about Pauline Baynes. I have admired her artwork for a long time, since reading the Narnia books as a child and many times since then. As an artist myself I see more and more how lovely her work is in line, color, and composition; and how true her vision was to the works she illustrated.
I have been wanting to collect more books with her illustrations in them for some time. I have the Narnia books, of course, with her original black and white drawings, and the newer ones in which she watercolored the drawings. I also have the version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe that has her more recent color plates. I am wondering if you know whether the other books in the series have versions with the color plates in them. These plates are not the old original drawings with color added. They are new paintings, probably done in gouache, or maybe oils. Do you know if these are available, either in books or as prints?

Brian Sibley said...

Jennie, well yours is the 100th comment on this post! Congratulations and I am sorry that there isn't a prize for you! How nice to read your praise for Pauline's work. I'm afraid she didn't do any new editions of the Narnia books other than TLTW&TW, although she earlier contributed new colour plates to my book, The Land of Narnia including illustrations to scenes from TMN, TVOTDT and TSC.

Jennie said...

Brian,
Thank you so much for replying so quickly. I'm excited to be the 100th commenter! I am very glad to finally find out where to find some more color plates of Miss Baynes' work. Is your book in print? I will go and do a search for it right now! Thank you again!