I have personally been obsessed with the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy ever since I learnt that this great author, in his own words, “wisely started with a map, and made the story fit”.
Many writers and illustrators, I am sure, are familiar with the idea of the “imaginary world” that seems to spring into being when you set out to create a book, but few, I will wager, have reached the level of paracosm that Tolkien achieved in his work. One of Tolkien’s earliest known maps of Middle Earth - which includes labels for things like ‘wandering gnomes’ and ‘orc raids’ - was allegedly created during his time as an undergraduate at Oxford University, drawn on a page which was famously ripped from a university exam booklet.
Early editions of The Hobbit featured two maps - Thror’s Map and Wilderland - as endpapers, however, further maps appear in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.
Thror's Map by J. R. R. Tolkien (date unknown) via Museoteca