Alan Lee (illustrator)

Alan Lee
In October 2016
Born20 August 1947 (age 73)
Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
EducationEaling School of Art
Known forIllustration, painting, conceptual design
AwardsChesley Award
1989, 1998
Kate Greenaway Medal
World Fantasy Award
Academy Award

Alan Lee (born 20 August 1947) is an English book illustrator and film conceptual designer. He is best known for his artwork inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novels, and for his work on the conceptual design of Peter Jackson's film adaptation of Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings film series.



Alan Lee was born in Middlesex, England, and studied at the Ealing School of Art.[1]

As of 2007, Lee, his wife, and two children live in Chagford, Dartmoor, Devon, England.[2]


Lee has illustrated dozens of fantasy books, including some non-fiction, and many more covers.[3] Among the numerous works by J. R. R. Tolkien that he has illustrated are the 1992 centenary edition of The Lord of the Rings, a 1999 edition of The Hobbit, the 2007 The Children of Húrin, the 2017 Beren and Lúthien and the 2018 The Fall of Gondolin.[3][4] Non-Tolkien books he has illustrated include Faeries (with Brian Froud), Lavondyss by Robert Holdstock, The Mabinogion (two versions), Castles by David Day, The Mirrorstone by Michael Palin, The Moon's Revenge by Joan Aiken, and Merlin Dreams by Peter Dickinson.[3][4]

He has illustrated retellings of classics for young people. Two were Rosemary Sutcliff's versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey—namely, Black Ships Before Troy (Oxford, 1993) and The Wanderings of Odysseus (Frances Lincoln, 1995). Another was Adrian Mitchell's version of Ovid's Metamorphoses—namely, Shapeshifters (Frances Lincoln, 2009).[5]

Lee made cover paintings for the 1983 Penguin edition of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy.[3][4] He also did the artwork for Alive!, a 2007 CD by the Dutch band Omnia, released during the Castlefest festival.[4]

Watercolour painting and pencil sketches are two of Lee's common media.[4]


Lee and John Howe were the lead concept artists of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films[6] and were recruited by director Guillermo del Toro in 2008 for continuity of design in the subsequent The Hobbit films,[6][7] before joining Jackson when he took over the Hobbit films project. Jackson has explained[8] how he originally recruited the reclusive Lee. By courier to Lee's home in the south of England, he sent two of his previous films, Forgotten Silver and Heavenly Creatures, with a note from himself and Fran Walsh that piqued Lee's interest enough for him to become involved. Lee went on to illustrate and even to help construct many of the scenarios for the movies, including objects and weapons for the actors. He made two cameo appearances: in the opening sequence of The Fellowship as one of the nine kings of men who became the Nazgûl; and in The Two Towers as a Rohan soldier in the armoury (over the shoulder of Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn who is talking to Legolas in Elvish).[9]

Lee worked as a conceptual designer on the films Legend, Erik the Viking, King Kong and the television mini-series Merlin.[6] The art book Faeries, produced in collaboration with Brian Froud, was the basis of a 1981 animated feature of the same name.[10][11]

Two years after completion of The Lord of the Rings film series, Lee released a 192-page collection of his conceptual artwork for the project, entitled The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook (HarperCollins, 2005). Peter Jackson said, "His art captured what I hoped to capture with the films."[12]

Books illustrated


For his 1978 book with Brian Froud, Faeries, Lee was runner-up for the fantasy Locus Award, year's best art or illustrated book.[13]

For illustrating Merlin Dreams by Peter Dickinson (1988), he won the annual Chesley Award for Best Interior Illustration[13] and he was a highly commended runner-up for the Greenaway Medal.[14][a] He also won the BSFA Award for Best Artwork, for that year's best single new image.[13]

Five years later, he won the Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject. The book was Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff, a version of the Trojan War story.[2]

For the 60th anniversary edition of The Hobbit, Tolkien's 1937 classic, Lee won his second Chesley Award for Interior Illustration (he is a finalist eight times through 2011).[15] For that year's work he won the annual World Fantasy Award, Best Artist, at the 1998 World Fantasy Convention.[16]

In 2000, he won the competitive, juried Spectrum Award for fantastic art in the grandmaster category.[17]

Lee, Grant Major and Dan Hennah earned the 2004 Academy Award for Best Art Direction for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, third in the film trilogy.[18]


  1. ^ Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway Medal shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners-up through 2002 were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 31 high commendations in 29 years including Lee and two others in 1988.


  1. ^ Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. "Alan Lee Biography" .
  2. ^ a b (Greenaway Winner 1993) Archived 2013-01-29 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Alan Lee at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 15 July 2012. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Amazing Artworks By Alan Lee" . Art. KlingPost. Archived from the original on 2010-12-07.
  5. ^ "Shapeshifters: tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses" . WorldCat. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Alan Lee at IMDb
  7. ^ "Guillermo del Toro Chats with TORN About The Hobbit Films!" . 25 April 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  8. ^ In a documentary interview on the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring.
  9. ^ "Cameos and Special Extras in The Lord of The Rings" . Anonymous.
  10. ^ "Faeries" . Internet Movie Database. Executive producer Thomas W. Moore and others.
  11. ^ Froud, Brian; Lee, Alan (1979). David Larkin (ed.). Faeries . Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group. ISBN 9780553346343.
  12. ^ "The lord of the rings sketchbook" (British edition). WorldCat. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  13. ^ a b c Lee, Alan" Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. Index of Art Nominees. Locus Index to SF Awards. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Kate Greenaway Medal" Archived 2014-09-16 at the Wayback Machine. 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Chesley Nominees List" . The Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards. Archived from the original on 4 November 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  16. ^ "1998 World Fantasy Award Winners and Nominees" . World Fantasy Convention. Archived from the original on 2008-09-22.
  17. ^ 2000 Spectrum Awards. Archived 2012-10-19 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" . AllMovie.

See also

External links

Categories: British illustrators | Fantasy artists | British speculative fiction artists | Tolkien artists | British children's book illustrators | Kate Greenaway Medal winners | Best Art Direction Academy Award winners | World Fantasy Award-winning artists | 1947 births | Living people | BSFA Award for Best Artwork winner

Information as of: 12.06.2021 09:10:23 CEST

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