In 2020 a new edition of Unfinished Tales was published, illustrated by Alan Lee, John Howe, and Ted Nasmith. See here.

I did not manage to find an older version of this book which was illustrated. I did, however, see that quite a few new editions of illustrated books by Tolkien were published in 2020. For example, here is a very similar edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, illustrated by Alan Lee.

The thing is, I did find a much older illustrated edition of the Fellowship of the Ring, published in 2011. It is not just another illustrated edition: it was illustrated by Alan Lee as well, and I strongly suspect that it features the exact same illustrations.

In this video, it is said that the 2020 edition of Unfinished Tales (linked above) is the first time the book has been illustrated. However, I suspect that it is just a re-release of an older version, featuring the exact same illustrations.

What was the first illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales? Does the 2020 edition feature illustrations that were already featured in an older edition, or are these new illustrations?

1 Answer 1


The 2020 edition is the first illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales

You are correct in noting that the Alan Lee illustrated The Lord of the Rings has been reprinted several times.

However, Unfinished Tales has not been illustrated before.

Furthermore, the majority of the artwork in this edition is new artwork commissioned specifically for this edition of Unfinished Tales.

Ted Nasmith discusses his illustrations on his website. Five of his six contributions were new. I assume the same proportions of new to old artwork apply to the other two illustrators.

  • Thank you! If "five or six" were new, do you happen to know where the other ones were printed beforehand?
    – Wade
    Jul 2, 2021 at 22:09
  • @Wade - Ted Nasmith has illustrated the Silmarillion, some editions of which have nearly fifty of his illustrations. (And some of them could work well in both books.) Additionally, there have been many editions of Unfinished Tales with illustrated covers. All three artists also have done work for Tolkien calendars, and do private commissions as well.
    – ibid
    Jul 2, 2021 at 22:58
  • I see, that's a good explanation, thank you.
    – Wade
    Jul 3, 2021 at 0:21

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