Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Emus in Middle Earth

For those of you who are old enough to remember the first paperback edition of LOTR, you might remembeer the book cover had emus and eggplant trees, and later wondered why.

well, writer Brian Sibley has the backstory.

Tolkien was not amused and wrote to Rayner Unwin at his publishing house, Geroge Allen and Unwin:
I think the cover is ugly; but I recognize that a main object of a paperback cover is to attract purchasers, and I suppose that you are better judges of what is attractive in USA than I am. I therefore will not enter into a debate about taste—(meaning though I did not say so: horrible colours and foul lettering)—but I must ask this about the vignette: what has it got to do with the story? Where is this place? Why a lion and emus? And what is the thing in the foreground with pink bulbs? I do not understand how anybody who had read the tale (I hope you are one) could think such a picture would please the author. 
Barbara Remington, in an interview many years later, explained these curiously worrying embellishments:  

apparantly, no one in the artist's circle knew what the book was about, so she made it up.

but Tolkien freaks know that it had already become a best seller via sci fi publisher Ace books (without copyright), but of course, only geeks read Ace paperbacks.

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