Pauline Baynes Archive
The Chapin Library administers an important collection of paintings, drawings, and other materials by the distinguished British illustrator Pauline Diana Baynes (1922–2008), bequeathed by the artist to the Williams College Oxford Programme with the wish that it be placed in the care of the Chapin Library for use in the education of Williams students.
Pauline Baynes began her career in 1942 with illustrations for the “Perry Colour Books” for children. Before long, she was producing art for major London publishers. Over more than sixty years, she made thousands of drawings, most famously for works by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. At the peak of her career she was in constant demand by publishers as an illustrator and designer, acclaimed for her fidelity to an author’s text, for her delicacy of line, and for a superb sense of color. She was most often hired to illustrate stories with an element of fantasy, such as Andersen’s fairy tales and the Arabian Nights, and books with religious themes. But Baynes also contributed to history and geography books, nature books, and cookbooks. She was able to work in a wide range of styles, and could evoke a medieval illuminated manuscript as easily as Persian miniatures, Greek vase paintings, or realistic plants and animals. But Baynes was especially known for the historical accuracy she brought to books such as A Dictionary of Chivalry by Grant Uden (1968), which won her the esteemed Kate Greenaway Medal, and A Companion to World Mythology by Richard Barber (1979).
Although Pauline Baynes sold or gave away most of her original art for Lewis and Tolkien, hundreds of her illustrations for those and other authors survive in her archive, as well as printed versions in books and magazines, late “visionary” paintings, and unpublished work such as designs for Aesop’s fables and the Koran. All of these are in process of being cataloged. Williams has also received some 2,000 volumes comprising Baynes’s working reference library and books illustrated by artists that inspired her, such as Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, and Rex Whistler.
The Pauline Baynes archive offers varied opportunities for research and instruction. Prospective illustrators, for example, may examine original works in gouache, pen and ink, and other media, as well as some of the artist’s tools and materials, for close study of her techniques. These same works also may be compared with their published versions, to see how printing processes can change the quality and dynamics of illustrations. Classics students may be interested in Baynes’s interpretations of Greek and Roman mythology, students of Botany and Biology in her precise drawings of plants and animals, history students in her renderings of subjects from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Inventories of books and original art in the Archive are being prepared. A preliminary inventory of the working and personal library of Pauline Baynes, excluding works she herself illustrated, is available here.
Most of the Pauline Baynes Archive is held in off-site storage, but given sufficient notice, materials may be retrieved for use in the Chapin Library/College Archives reading room in our temporary quarters at the Southworth Schoolhouse.
Copyright and Permissions
The Chapin Library administers certain copyrights held by the artist at her death and conveyed in her bequest. Inquiries about permission to publish or reprint original art by Baynes contained in the Williams archive, or art to which she retained copyright, may be sent to Wayne Hammond, Assistant Chapin Librarian, as directed on our contact page. Fees or other payments may apply.
- Appreciation of Pauline Baynes by Charlotte Cory
- Brian Sibley’s tribute to Pauline Baynes
- Chapin Library exhibition (1999) PDF
- Obituary in the Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
- Obituary in the Guardian (U.K.)
- Obituary in the Independent (U.K.)
- Pauline Baynes art at the Bridgeman Art Library
- Pauline Baynes art at the Mary Evans Picture Library (search)