The Book of Ishness
Between 1911 and 1915, very early on in his creative journey, J.R.R. Tolkien produced a particularly intriguing and original series of illustrations that he assembled in a notebook entitled “The Book of Ishness”.
A pure product of his imagination, and surprisingly abstract or conceptual for an artist know mainly for his narrative work, he nicknamed them Ishnesses, to underline their, in some sense, visionary nature. Amongst these drawings, some later accompanied the genesis of the “Silmarillion” and his mythological tales, in the years that were to come.
A number of these illustrations, alongside many others, are presented in Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond's J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist & Illustrator, published by HarperCollinsPublishers. You may also be interested in their article written for our website presenting "Tolkien's Art".