The New York Times remembers Barbara Remington, who created the cover illustrations for Ballantine Books' 1965 paperback editions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. Remington's covers will always be the canonical covers for me, because these editions were in my junior high school library when I first encountered Tolkien.
From the article:
Ms. Remington, who designed other book covers for Ballantine as well, was asked to illustrate the 1965 editions of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" on a tight deadline.
"Ballantine was in a hurry to get these books out right away," she said in an interview for the literary journal Andwerve. "When they commissioned me to do the artwork, I didn't have the chance to see either book, though I tried to get a copy through my friends.
"So I didn't know what they were about," she continued. "I tried finding people that had read them, but the books were not readily available in the states, and so I had sketchy information at best."