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The Lord Of The Rings Covers: A Brief History

If there’s any novel that’s just made to have a beautiful cover, it’s The Lord of the Rings.

I would think this novel would be a book designer’s dream come true. So much inspiration.

Every now and then, I’ll take a look back at some book covers over the years for specific novels. We’ve done it with The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath and The Sound and the Fury.

Now let’s take a look at some of the The Lord of the Rings covers over the years.

cover_design_for_lotr_by_breathing2004-d6gtao2

I love this one. According to the script at the top, this is the cover design for the Chinese version of The Lord of the Rings. Simply beautiful!

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LORD OF THE RINGS THREE BOOKS 2

These covers might take you back. They’re one of Houghton Mifflin’s designs from the early days. Love the color.

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lotr_box_cover

I have this version. It’s actually the design for the wraparound of the little box that holds all three volumes of the novel. This drawing alone makes me want to be an artist, and I hate drawing because I suck at it.

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lotr

Here’s the requisite movie tie-in cover. I’m pretty much over these covers. I try to avoid them at all costs. At least this one features Gandalf, though.

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lord_of_the_rings_book_cover_by_mrstingyjr-d5vwgct

Simple. Classic. Mysterious. I love this one. It’s very similar to the edition I own, which looks like…

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eyeofsauron

This. Like I mentioned, the cover for the box I own is above, but this is what the hardcover looks like once you take off the dust jacket. Love it.

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the-lord-of-the-rings-jackfish90

Finally, somebody featured the Eye of Sauron. Nice cover but I’m not crazy about the design. Kind of makes me a little dizzy.

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lord-of-the-rings

A different take on the Eye of Sauron, very similar to the edition I own. These have a 1960s or 1970s vibe to them, though I’m not really sure when these versions were published.

I could probably write 10 posts on this topic. There are just so many different takes on this cover.

Any favorites? Any links to even better ones?

 

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is my edition. Purchased in the 70s.

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  2. a fascinating and interesting overview of the evolution of cover art. I’m a fan myself of the collected editions they sell at Barnes and Noble. sometimes I will buy a book that I already have just because those covers are so gorgeous.

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  3. sylviemarieheroux #

    I have the Ballantyne Books/Houghton Mifflin paperbacks (your third illustration) which we inherited from elderly aunts who passed away some years ago. I remember darker covers from the edition I read in high school (lent to my by my English teacher).

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  4. I have the three volume edition with the illustrations by the Queen of Denmark.

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  5. The Chinese covers are beautiful,

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  6. The classic one reminds me of The neverending Story.
    Theres nothing brief about Tolkien.

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  7. I can’t stand movie tie-in covers! NOOOOO!! These are the covers of the first copies I owned: http://lotrscrapbook.bookloaf.net/gallery/bookcovers/pages/09.htm My mom always had these so I love them too: http://lotrscrapbook.bookloaf.net/gallery/bookcovers/pages/05.htm There is a green leather bound Hobbit and a red leather bound LOTR. I also own these editions: http://lotrscrapbook.bookloaf.net/gallery/bookcovers/pages/16.htm They are expensive but worth every cent.

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  8. Denise #

    My favorite covers, for nostalgic reasons, are the white covers and muted colors from Ballantine 1973. These are the ones I grew up reading but there are lots of fun covers out there and some terrible ones too.

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  9. My copies are closest to paperback versions of the last picture posted. Wouldn’t have been my first choice, but far superior to the movie tie-in (though I agree with you. At least that one featured Gandalf).

    A fine example of judging books by their covers!

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  10. This page has a lot of different cover versions on it, but the edition I have uses the 1954/55 cover, even though it’s a more recent (mid 90’s) edition… http://www.adazing.com/lord-of-the-rings-book-cover-designs/

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  11. Just as designs, the retro Houghton Mifflins are my favorite by far. So strange, and not too grim. I have to say, though, that the omnibus movie tie in edition that I own does have that advantage over most of these, that you can hold the whole thing in your hands and just get lost in it. I really like that. I guess I’m getting ahead of myself, if we’re just talking covers.

    Like

    June 17, 2014
  12. I own this edition (italian):

    Like

    June 18, 2014
  13. Nikhil #


    This was the cover of the book when I first read it so I am always a fan of this

    Like

    June 18, 2014
  14. Nya-chan Production #

    Nostalgia reasons, these I liked for a long time, first Czech edition available: http://www.antikvariat-bohumin.cz/images_zbozi/1668_1_big.jpg

    Like

    June 18, 2014
  15. Phoenix #

    It’s The Hobbit, rather than LOTR, but this is my all-time favourite worse book cover:
    http://static.squarespace.com/static/524c65ede4b061d170a78660/53124fd0e4b0fff880a511ec/531256efe4b0fff880a5b7d7/1358366685000/?format=1000w

    Nightmarishly/hilariously awful!

    Like

    June 19, 2014
  16. I like the ones with the eyes of Sauron. It’s crazy to see how many covers there are. Very cool.

    Like

    June 19, 2014
  17. Zoe Willow #

    Reblogged this on a little wail.

    Like

    June 20, 2014
  18. Tony #

    My favourite cover for Return of the King featured a magnificent drawing of Minas Tirith with Gandalf riding towards it – it belonged to the school library – but a web search hasn’t uncovered it.

    Like

    June 21, 2014
  19. I have the same one you do (which I adore). I’m always all for simplicity so I like the leather bound best. I also have my dad’s copy from the 80s, which is corny, but I do enjoy looking at them, and I like the different colored jackets.

    Like

    July 4, 2014
  20. Reblogged this on shoyoyewahab and commented:
    waoooooooooooooh

    Like

    July 8, 2014

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  1. Looking Back On The Lord Of The Rings | 101 Books

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