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From Longtime Favorite Book to Work of Art

By Carol Brévart-Demm


Ben Goossen ’13, a recipient at Commencement of the Lang Award recognizing outstanding academic accomplishment, will spend next year in Berlin, Germany, as a Fulbright scholar. Photos by Laurence Kesterson

This spring, honors history and German studies major Ben Goossen ’13 became the unprecedented four-time winner of the coveted annual A. Edward Newton Award for a student book collection. His varied editions of The Hobbit—including some in foreign languages—were displayed in McCabe Library throughout the semester. One of the exhibited items is an artist’s book in the making—a series of Goossen’s own colored full-page drawings, each illustrating the events of a chapter of The Hobbit. The book had become Goossen’s favorite as a young child during cozy hours spent by the fire while his father read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


One of Goosen's illustrations.

“I began illustrating The Hobbit when I was in fifth grade,” Goossen says. “My parents always encouraged me to do art, and they’d given me some books on the art of The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit had been my favorite book for a while, and I was inspired to illustrate my own version. When I’m finished with the project, there should be about 60 illustrations total. I’m hoping to bind them with a complete copy of the text.”

Goossen, who keeps the style of his early drawings for the sake of consistency, also wants his edition to look as authentic as possible. So, during a semester in Germany last year, he took a break, heading south to Morocco, where one of the leather workers for which that country is famous, made him a cover of soft, red leather, sporting the title embossed in gold.

“It should have the look of the ‘Red Book’ in which Bilbo wrote down his tale,” Goossen says.

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