Pauline Baynes
March 28, 2011 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I love her work. She has a simple style, but added a lot to the books.

I think it's sad that few books are illustrated these days. I miss the pulp SF, fantasy, and mystery that had these.

Sad, but she did have a full life.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:19 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

An amazing body of work, and I agree with cjorgensen, those even sparse illustrations that used to be found in books often shaped my images as I read.
posted by tomswift at 10:29 AM on March 28, 2011

I always especially liked her faux medieval work: the 'simpler' the better. I remember Smith of Wootten Major and Farmer Giles of Ham especially (you can see the contrast between her elegant style and some other illustrators' in the image searches above). Good stories, too.
posted by willF at 10:42 AM on March 28, 2011

The hand-me-down editions of Narnia I read in the early nineties clapped Baynes' exquisite British line work between covers by the psychedelic Roger Hane. It was a lovely mismatch, far more interesting than the insipid, unicorn-drenched covers of the modern editions.
posted by Iridic at 10:49 AM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

My Narnia paperback set is the middle set on the Narnia link. Neat mix of something like heraldry and illustration. Good to learn about her. Thanks.
posted by Trochanter at 10:57 AM on March 28, 2011

My goodness, between her and Diana Wynne-Jones...what a sad week. I absolutely loved her Narnia illustrations when I was little. The Voyage of the Dawntreader and The Magician's Nephew in particular were the absolute epitome of beauty at the time. Even now they hold up awfully well. As a child I missed how witty many of them are.

I also remember my surprise to see her illustrations in Smith of Wootten Major.

It's nice to see that she illustrated some stories from the Qu'ran. Even when I was little, I really didn't like all the CS Lewis snickering about Calormen/the nebulously-Muslim society.

posted by Frowner at 11:34 AM on March 28, 2011

Oooh, distress made me forget to close my tags.
posted by Frowner at 11:34 AM on March 28, 2011

Loved her illustrations more than I can say. A huge part of my childhood.

posted by jokeefe at 12:23 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

(The dot is ongoing, not date-specific)
posted by jokeefe at 12:24 PM on March 28, 2011

I read something a few days ago about beer labels, and how an effective design would help enjoyment because the consumer would be subconsciously trying to have the experience promised by the image. (That's my paraphrase; I wish I could remember the source with any certainty. I want to say it was Charlie Papazian's Complete Joy of Home Brewing but I don't have my copy handy to check.)

Anyway, on reading that, I was immediately transported back to being a little kid (seven? eight?) and reading library copies of the Narnia books with Baynes' covers.

My recollection is that I ultimately failed to have the promised experience, but I blame Mr. Lewis more than my much-younger self. I did learn a distrust of sneaky axe-to-grind allegory, though, so time well spent.

In re: Diana Wynne Jones:

If you've not yet read Neil Gaiman's reminiscence of her, do.
posted by sourcequench at 12:29 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think I had that LOTR poster at one time. Sad news.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:43 PM on March 28, 2011

Pauline Baynes actually died in 2008, at the age of 85.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:26 PM on March 28, 2011

Sorry for the confusion, I can see why some thought this was an obit post. I was searching for some of her line drawings from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe a few weeks ago and was surprised that I couldn't find any. I had thought the internet would be full of hi-res scans from the Narnia books. These links were actually the best examples of her illustrations I could find after pretty extensive searching.

The covers for the first editions from the '50s are simply amazing, as was pretty much everything she touched.
posted by puny human at 2:18 PM on March 28, 2011

more images here

Edmund meets the White Witch
posted by puny human at 3:14 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I was reading Lev Grossman's The Magician last year, I realized halfway through that my mind's eye was seeing the story in Baynes-vision.
posted by No-sword at 4:33 PM on March 28, 2011

No-sword: Me too! Grossman's book is pretty obviously a response to the Narnia series, and it really deserves illustrations that are sympathetic to the ones from those books. On the other hand, I understand that Douglas Gresham vigorously protects his interests, and it might be a bad idea to to give him any ammunition.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:30 PM on March 28, 2011

The illustrations are lovely, but I actually prefer my fiction illustration-less. The visual impact is dominating; any pictures my mind had beforehand had conjured up for me is replaced by the artist's vision.

I actually took a moment to revisit "my" images of Middle Earth in my mind upon hearing that the films were coming. I knew that once I had seen the first movie trailer that it would forever colour my impression of the books. As I have no artistic ability I could not capture them on paper, so now my personal vision is lost to me.
posted by Harald74 at 2:13 AM on March 29, 2011

Actually I recall that Lewis was not the biggest fan of her work, but I always liked her style. But if you look at the horse on the original cover of Horse and His Boy, it does look a bit off. Some of her other work has a similar problem.
posted by emjaybee at 9:10 PM on March 29, 2011

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