Original Drawings by J.R.R. Tolkien Are Coming to New York's Morgan Library

The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937
The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937 / The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937

A collection of British fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien's original drawings and illustrations will make a rare appearance in the U.S. this month. As AM New York reports, works from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries will be traveling across the pond to New York City, where they'll go on display at The Morgan Library & Museum.

From January 25 to May 12, 2019, visitors to the "Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth" exhibition will have the chance to see book manuscripts, hand-drawn maps of Middle-earth, original illustrations of Smaug the dragon (from The Hobbit), Sauron's Dark Tower of Barad-dûr (described in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion), and other recognizable characters. Seldom-seen childhood photos of Tolkien, who would have celebrated his 127th birthday on January 3, will also be on view.

"The Morgan exhibition is your only opportunity in America to see the largest collection ever assembled of J.R.R. Tolkien's original drawings, manuscripts, and maps," Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library, says in a video promoting the exhibition.

It's not all about the art, either. Tolkien's draft manuscripts provide a window into his creative process, as well as the vivid, expansive worlds he created. "We get a glimpse into the moments in the creation of the narrative, such as when he changes the wizard's name to Gandalf or suddenly comes up with the idea of the One Ring," library curator John McQuillen tells AM New York.

In addition to items from the Bodleian Libraries, the Morgan also borrowed works from the Marquette University Libraries in Milwaukee and private lenders. In total, there are 117 items on display. The exhibit typically costs $20, but it's free on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m.

If you aren't able to make it to New York for this exhibition, you can check out some of Tolkien's illustrations in the Bodleian Libraries' book of the same name, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. Hardcover copies are available on Amazon for $29.

[h/t AM New York]