Thursday, December 7, 2023

Off-trail Hobbit Illustrations: Chris Riddell Part Two

When I made my previous post, I did not know that Chris Riddell had earlier illustrated Tolkien in a similar anthology of illustrated extracts. Thanks to Trotter for pointing this volume out to me. And the earlier book turns out to be a far more interesting book than the one I had known about, for a number of reasons. 

The Puffin Treasury of Children's Stories was published in 1996. No editor is given, but a likely reliable source credits the editing and the unsigned foreword to Anna Trenter. The book was retitled for the 1997 U.S. edition as The Viking Treasury of Children's Stories, and in a 1998 UK edition, published by Penguin Books, it became A Favourite Treasury of Children's Literature

The volume contains thirty-six selections. Most are extracts, but eleven are self-contained short works. To the Tolkien fan, in addition to the extract from The Hobbit, there are other welcome things, including three items illustrated in color by Pauline Baynes.  The first is an extract from T.H. White's The Once and Future King, which has four illustrations. The second is an extract from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, with six illustrations (which apparently were done for this specific volume, and are not reprints); and the third item is the short story "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde, with eleven illustrations. 

There is also a short story by Tolkien's biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, one of his Mr. Majeika series, which is predominately made up of short novels. The short story originally appeared in a magazine for younger children, Puffin Flight, in 1988. And one other selection has some extra interest:  "Spotty Powder" by Roald Dahl. It is described as one of several chapters cut from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because "there were too many naughty children." It was first published in Puffin Post in 1973.

The extract from The Hobbit is from Chapter 12, "Inside Information."  Chris Riddell provides only three illustrations (elsewhere in this volume Riddell also illustrated an extract from The Wizard of Oz, and the story "Professor Branestawm's Christmas Tree" by Norman Hunter). 

Here is a full-page Smaug:

Here is Bilbo stealing the cup:

And here is a dwarf (Balin) carrying Bilbo:

Riddell's dragon is interesting, but I can't say I think much of his hobbit or his dwarves.

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