Citation :Pauline Baynes
Book illustrator discovered by JRR Tolkien who went on to create the drawings for CS Lewis's Narnia books.
Pauline Baynes's extensive output was to include many Puffin book covers, including those for Richard Adams's Watership Down and for the 1961 paperback version of The Hobbit Photo: MARTIN POPE
Pauline Baynes, the artist and illustrator who died on August 1 aged 85, brought the worlds of CS Lewis's Narnia and JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth to life with her superb line drawings.
In 1948 Tolkien was visiting his publishers, George Allen & Unwin, to discuss some disappointing artwork that they had commissioned for his novella Farmer Giles of Ham, when he spotted, lying on a desk, some witty reinterpretations of medieval marginalia from the Luttrell Psalter that greatly appealed to him. These, it turned out, had been sent to the publishers "on spec" by the then unknown Pauline Baynes.
Tolkien demanded that the creator of these drawings be set to work illustrating Farmer Giles of Ham, and was delighted with the subsequent results, declaring that Pauline Baynes had "reduced my text to a commentary on her drawings". Further collaboration between Tolkien and his Farmer Giles illustrator followed, and a lifelong friendship developed.
During the war Pauline Baynes had worked for the Admiralty, and the experience gained there stood her in good stead when Tolkien asked her to draw the map of Middle Earth. Later, when she showed him her artwork for a poster featuring Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, the author nodded approvingly and murmured quietly: "There they are, there they are."
The work for Tolkien led to a commission to illustrate CS Lewis's Narnia books, though Lewis, an Oxford friend of Tolkien's, was not so generous about his illustrator. To her face he praised her work, but Pauline Baynes was later hurt to discover that he had been critical of her pictures to others, telling his biographer, George Sayer, for instance, that she could not draw lions.
In later years she became acutely aware that a single first edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would fetch more than she had been paid for the original artwork. She was also uncomfortable with the narrowly Christian allegory of the Narnia stories, and with the fact that her connection with Lewis and Tolkien overshadowed the rest of her career - in the course of which she illustrated more than 100 books.
Pauline Diana Baynes was born on September 9 1922 at Hove, East Sussex, though her earliest and most formative memories were of her childhood in India, where her father was with the Indian Civil Service as a commissioner at Agra. Summers were spent at the hill station of Mussoorie, the sights and sounds of which Pauline could still vividly recall 80 years later.
This way of life came to an end when Pauline's mother declined to follow convention and send her daughters back to school in England on their own. Instead, she left her husband (she wrote to him that he was "free to do as he pleased") and returned home with her daughters, staying with friends during term-time and in Swiss hotels for the holidays.
Sadly, neither her mother's solicitude nor the company of her adored elder sister, Angela, prevented Pauline from being unhappy. For the rest of her life she was to be haunted by memories of the misery of being abruptly parted from her Indian ayah (and from family's pet monkey, who was trained to take tiffin at the tea table), and of crying herself to sleep on the voyage home. Wretched schooldays at a convent, where strict, unsympathetic nuns mocked her outlandish imagination, her handmade, if slightly eccentric, clothes and her ability to speak Hindi, became less intolerable when Pauline learned that her experiences were similar to those of Rudyard Kipling, whose work she greatly admired.
Her life improved immeasurably when, aged 15, she spent two terms studying design at the Farnham School of Art, before following her sister to the Slade, then in Oxford. From the start she knew that she wanted to illustrate children's books, but in 1940 her education was cut short by the demands of war work, first for the Army's camouflage development department at Farnham Castle, and later drawing maps and naval charts for the Admiralty in Bath.
She became friendly with Ernest Shepard, illustrator of the Winnie the Pooh books, who took her to London to show her portfolio to his editor at the Illustrated London News. But her real breakthrough came in 1948, when drawings from the portfolio she had sent on the off-chance to George Allen & Unwin were spotted by Tolkien.
Subsequently, Pauline Baynes's extensive output was to include many Puffin book covers, including those for Richard Adams's Watership Down and for the 1961 paperback version of The Hobbit. Of all her book illustrations, she felt that her finest were those she produced for Grant Uden's Dictionary of Chivalry, a magnificent production that occupied her for two full years, and for which she was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1968.
It was by then several years since her whole life had been transformed. In 1961, approaching 40 and after many "interesting and highly enjoyable", but failed, romances (CS Lewis considered her to be "far too pretty for her own good"), Pauline Baynes was living a secluded life in a cottage with her dogs for company, when the local dogmeat man, a former ex-German PoW who had been with Rommel's Afrika Korps, knocked on the door.
Within weeks of meeting, Fritz Otto Gasch and Pauline Baynes married. Gasch got on well with Pauline's friends Tolkien and Shepard (they enjoyed swapping wartime reminiscences) and he created a wonderful garden for his wife. They would have liked to have children, but it was not to be, and so they remained a devoted couple until Gasch's sudden death in 1988.
Then two years later Pauline Baynes received, from out of the blue, a telephone call from a daughter of Gasch's by his first, pre-war, marriage. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, the daughter had discovered that her father had stayed on in England after the war and that he had remarried. She had never met him, but was delighted to find the woman who had loved him; and so in old age Pauline Baynes found that she had a family after all. "It was," she said, "like something magical coming back at me through a wardrobe."
She continued to work every day at a desk positioned beneath a window that looked out over the garden her husband had created for her, and in which his ashes were scattered. The desk would be strewn with half-empty gouache tubes and rows of well-worn pens and brushes; Handel's music would be playing in the background; and Pauline Baynes's dogs would be lying at her feet.
Her later books struggled to find a publisher (a recent bestiary found an American publisher only when she agreed to paint out a mermaid's breasts which were considered too risqué), but she did not stop working. Recently, she completed a highly decorative version of the Koran, and she was half-way through a very colourful Aesop's Fables when she died.