It's been too long since I read The Lord of The Rings and it's one of my goals this year to re-read the whole series. The new Hobbit movie is definitely one inspiration bring Tolkien back into my radar, but these illustrations by the author are an even bigger influence. I'm incredibly jealous of people with the talent to not only create entire worlds in words, but also capture them in beautiful watercolor scenes. When the Hobbit was published in 1937 it included ten black-and-white pictures, two maps, and binding and dust jacket designs with runic writing all by Tolkien. Later, Tolkien also painted five scenes for color plates, which also reveal a different vision of Middle Earth than we will find in Peter Jackson's movies.