Tuesday 3 August 2010


Two years ago, today, I heard of the death of my friend, the artist and illustrator Pauline Baynes...

She has been much in my thoughts recently and last evening, quite by chance, I picked up a small book entitled Poems of Friendship from one of my bookshelves and, on opening it, found - to my great surprise - that it was a Christmas gift from Pauline in 1996. Curious to have forgotten it for fourteen years; curiouser to have rediscovered it just now...

Anyway, here is a verse from that book: 'Old Friendship' by the American poet, Eunice Tietjens (1889-1944)...

Beautiful and rich is an old friendship,
Grateful to the touch as ancient ivory,
Smooth as aged wine, or sheen of tapestry
Where light has lingered, intimate and long.

Full of tears and warm is an old friendship

That asks no longer deeds of gallantry,
Or any deed at all – save that the friend shall be
Alive and breathing somewhere, like a song.

...or, at least, in our hearts and memories.

Images: Photo: © Brian Sibley 2008; Art: Bookplate designed by Pauline Baynes for her archive, from the collection in The Chapin Library of Rare Books.

You can find more of Eunice Tietjens poetry on the web-site, Old Poetry.


scb said...

Lovely poem, lovely remembrance.

SharonM said...

A beautiful, poignant poem!

Bill Field said...

OK- That is really an amazing thing! I can"t tell you how many instances I've had since my Dad died that mirror this. Brian, your insights never fail to impress me. My heart goes out to you for this anniversary of such a loss.

Boll Weavil said...

For most of us, Pauline's illustrations are the definitive images we have of Narnia. One of the great joys of seeing her work came to me in 1990 when I first opened your book and found she had revisited Narnia and created fresh pictures in glorious colour. The greatest tribute to her, along with your memories, is the work she left us.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, folks.

Boll is right about the importance of Pauline's Narnian images.

I still remember the day on which I received the new artwork she had made for my book The Land of Narnia: instead of sending it to the publisher, she had sent it to me because she was so uncertain about the quality of what she had done that she wanted to know whether I thought it was satisfactory before it was submitted. Naturally, I took it straight to the publishers! :)

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute. I read that when Disney began pre-productaion of TLTWATW an article in a national paper appeared about Pauline Baynes. She was paid so very little for the illustrations of the Narnia books and yet they were all part of the magic for me. C S Lewis was not big on descriptive passages and Pauline Baynes wonderful illustrations helped my childish imagination no end. I was always quite taken with her drawing of Tashbaan and the Tisroc (May He Live Forever).

Thanks Brian.

Brian Sibley said...

Thank you. I also love that view of Tashbaan - so much detail in such a tiny drawing.

By the way, do you wish to remain anonymous?

Geno said...

Pauline's work has probably left the largest impression on me as a youth, helping to define my view of Narnia. And then to stumble upon her in my teens when I started exploring Tolkien's lesser known works of Bombadil, Wooten Major, and Farmer Giles. She must have been a wonderful woman to know.
By the way, does she have any kind of biography or do I have to wait till you can write one?

Brian Sibley said...

A bibliography is being written by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull but I am not sure about a biography. I know one was being considered but have heard nothing definite for some time.

Passionate though I am about her work, I doubt today's publishers would consider her a potentially best-selling subject.

Josna said...

Thank you for your post and the poem on the anniversary of Pauline Baynes, whose Narnia illustrations nurtured my imagination as a child.

I've just posted an entry on my blog, Tell Me Another, on reading the Narnia series to children, and would very much like to use (with proper credit, of course) the Pauline Baynes' illustration of Edmund first encountering the White Witch that you used a little while ago on your blog. May I?

Tell Me Another's URL is: josna.wordpress.com

Thank you,