Over at the blog Mythoi, Morgan Thomsen has a very interesting post about "Tolkien and the Illustrations of Robert J. Lee". It describes eighteen illustrations to a reprint of chapter one of The Hobbit in an anthology The Children’s Treasury of Literature, edited by Bryna and Louis Untermeyer, published in England in 1966. While Thomsen makes many interesting points, the context around this anthology is much more complex and deserves to be delineated further.
Thus Robert J. Lee's illustrations date from 1962, not 1966, and in that context can be understood as coming from the time before the explosion of popularity of Tolkien's work which began in 1965, not after it, and perhaps in some small way this volume contributed to that great surge in public awareness. Robert J. Lee (1921-1994) was born in California, and educated at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. He was an instructor at the Pratt Insitute in Brooklyn in 1955-56, and became an associate professor at Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, in 1962. The first of many books he illustrated was This Is a Town (1957), by Polly Curran, and Lee did other work for the Golden Press, including Fifty Famous Fairy Tales (1965).
Lee's illustrations to The Hobbit are printed slightly differently in the 1962 book from the 1966 one, though the page layouts are identical in the two volumes (i.e., pages 54 though 78 in the 1962 volume are laid out identically to pages 462 through 486 in the 1966 volume). Morgan Thomsen detailed Lee's eighteen illustrations in the 1966 volume in his blog: four in full color, five duotone, and nine monochrome. In the 1962 version, there are four in full color, six duotone, and eight monochrome, the difference being in the illustration of Belladonna Took (Thomsen's #3, duotone in brown and black on page 56 of the 1962 book; monochrome in black on page 464 of the 1966 volume).
Of course the success (or lack thereof) of Lee in capturing the essence of Tolkien's story remains in the eyes of the beholder.
Perhaps the most curious Tolkien publication of 2011 was a new edition of Oliphaunt, a twenty-four page picture book illustrated by Dan McGeehan, published by The Child's World, Mankato, Minnesota, part of their series of "Poetry for Children". Oddly there is no mention of copyright for the Tolkien poem, and this edition was apparently withdrawn soon after publication. ISBN 9781609731557.
Another curious publication that appears to be a new book is J.R.R. Tolkien's Double Words and Creative Process: Language and Life, by Arne Zettersten, published by Palgrave Macmillan. Though the book itself gives no hint, it is merely a translation into English (presumably by the author himself) from the Swedish original, Tolkien--min vän Ronald och hand världar [Tolkien: My Friend Ronald and His Worlds] (Stockholm, 2008). Though much of it is based on previous Tolkien scholarship, Zettersten adds interesting recollections of conversations with Tolkien. His style is, unfortunately, discursive and repetitive. Price $85.00. ISBN 9780230623149.
From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages (Oxford University Press), edited by Michael Adams, has, as one of its eight chapters, "Tolkien's Invented Languages"by E.S.C. Weiner and Jeremy Marshall, two of the three co-authors of The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (2006). Tolkien-scholar Arden R. Smith also contributes a chapter on "Confounding Babel: International Auxiliary Languages". Price $19.95. ISBN 9780192807090.
The Journal of Inklings Studies debuted in 2011, with two issues, no. 1 (March 2011) and no. 2 (October 2011). These issues are predominately concerned with C.S. Lewis, and the only Tolkien-related content is a book review of Dinah Hazell's The Plants of Middle-earth, a book published five years earlier in 2006. One hopes for more (and timelier) Tolkien coverage in future volumes. For more information, see www.inklings-studies.com. ISSN 2045-8797 (print); 2045-8800 (online).