May 23, 2022

Bodliean Libraries (Oxford) Acquires Rare Map of Middle-Earth Annotated by Tolkien

From The Bodliean Libraries:

The Bodleian Libraries has acquired a recently-discovered map of Middle-earth annotated by JRR Tolkien, which reveals his remarkable vision of the creatures, topography and heraldry of his imagined world where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place.

The map was a working document that Tolkien and acclaimed illustrator Pauline Baynes both annotated in 1969 when Baynes was commissioned to produce a poster map of Middle-earth. At the time, The Lord of the Rings had never been illustrated so Tolkien, who was deeply concerned with the portrayal of his invented world, was keen to ensure that Middle-earth was accurately depicted. His copious notes and markings can be seen in green ink or pencil on the map, most notably his comments equating key places in Middle-earth with real world cities, for example that ‘Hobbiton is assumed to be approx. at [the] latitude of Oxford.’

Source: Bodliean Libraries

Source: Bodliean Libraries


The annotated map went unseen for decades until October 2015 when Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford put the map on display and offered it for sale. News of the map’s discovery caused a wave of excitement among fans, collectors and the media. The map had previously belonged to Baynes, who passed away in 2008. This rare piece of Tolkien ephemera now joins the Libraries’ Tolkien archive, the largest collection of original Tolkien manuscripts and drawings in the world. The map is an exciting new resource for Tolkien scholars, providing new linguistic and topographic details about the author’s fantasy world.

Source: Bodliean Libraries

Source: Bodliean Libraries

Learn More, Read the Complete Announcement, View Additional Images

See Also: New Video Takes a Look at the Weston Library, Part of University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries (April 29, 2016)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.