Barbara Remington, the cover artist for the most popular edition of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, has passed away at the age of 90. At the time she drew the cover art, she had not yet read the books. Before the Ballantine paperback edition came out in 1965, LOTR was difficult to find in the United States.
“Ballantine was in a hurry to get these books out right away,” Remington said in an interview for the literary journal Andwerve. “When they commissioned me to do the artwork, I didn’t have the chance to see either book, though I tried to get a copy through my friends.
At the time, Ace had taken advantage of differences between British and American copyright regulations to publish an unauthorized edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, so Ballantine was in a hurry to get the entire trilogy out as quickly as possible.
Normally, Ms. Remington attempted to read books before drawing the cover art, but that was not possible in this case. She did read the books later and became a fan of Tolkien’s writing. In an interview with N. Marion Hage of Andwerve, she said:
“After reading his work, I was in awe of Tolkien. I knew there was something special about him. If I read The Lord of the Rings first, I don’t think I could have drawn the cover art.”
“Why not?” I [N. Marion Hage] asked in curiosity.
“I’d have felt intimidated. These books were so special, I would have perhaps felt overwhelmed,” she said, speaking of J.R.R Tolkien with utmost fondness.
In addition to LOTR and The Hobbit, Remington did other covers for Ballantine and illustrated Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Highlights. As a freelance artist, she had multiple employers and did several children’s books: The Christmas Mouse, Really Not Really, The Billy Goat Gruff, The Three Bears and Goldilocks, The Scarlett Thread, Boat, and Scuttle the Stowaway Mouse.
Barbara Remington was born June 23, 1929 in St. Paul, Minnesota. She died of breast cancer January 23, 2020 in Thompson borough,Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania.
Ms. Remington was born and raised in Minnesota, and spent the last thirty-five years in northeast Pennsylvania, but in the 1960s she lived in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in Manhattan known to comic book fans as the home of Bleecker Street, where Dr. Stephen Strange lives, but in the Sixties, was home to actors, poets, and musicians.
Remington kept company with Allen Ginsberg Howl, Ira Cohen Seven Marvels, Gilded Splinters, Gregory Corso, Sarpedon, The Vestal Lady and Other Poems, and Robert Lowell For the Union Dead, Lord Weary’s Castle. She also designed theatrical costumes and did window displays for Tiffany’s.
Christopher Tolkien, who drew maps for his father’s books, died January 16, 2020.
Ms. Remington was married and divorced three times, to musician Robert Tweedy in the Fifties, to Edward Preston in the Sixties and Seventies, and to Brian Buchbinder from 1983 – 1990.
In the 1960s, many people, especially college students, were fans of her artwork.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.