I recently visited “Tolkien – Maker of Middle-earth”, an exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, which runs through May 12. The exhibit is the most extensive display of original Tolkien material gathered in one place for several generations. It includes pieces from The Morgan, The Bodlein Library archive at Oxford University, the Marquette University Libraries in Milwaukee, and private lenders. It takes you on a journey through the life of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (or as we know him – J.R.R.) with photos, letters, text, and Tolkien’s own work. For me, it was a truly awe-filled and emotional experience.
To enter the exhibit, you walk through the round green door of Bag End to behold a wall-sized mural of Tolkien’s painting of Hobbiton. There are other murals throughout the exhibit, and it is cool to see his work so large because things that are usually seen as tiny details are suddenly more apparent, and you are drawn in to the landscape. But the real attraction of the exhibit is Tolkien’s actual work.
On display is an extensive selection of his original drawings, paintings and hand-written manuscripts. I can’t possibly describe in words what it is like to stand in front of the original hand-painted dust jacket for “The Hobbit”, replete with Tolkien’s handwritten comments in the margins; to view “Conversations with Smaug” so closely that you can see J.R.R’s brushstrokes; to revel in the light of “The Forest of Lothlorien in Spring.” One of my personal favorites is “Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft Elves”, the image chosen for the exhibition’s catalog cover. If you can’t make it to the museum, I highly recommend this book with the same title as the exhibit. It is available online and includes full color images of every piece in the exhibit along with the accompanying text.
There are early sketches for The Doors of Durin, which were a special treat for me because I recently painted a life-sized version of the West-Gate of Moria (Speak “Friend” and Enter) at Scum and Villainy Cantina in Hollywood, where Torn Tuesday is broadcast from. There are even pages Tolkien created to look like they were from The Book of Mazarbul – the book that the Fellowship finds besides Balin’s tomb – hand-calligraphed, painted, torn and burnt. Tolkien the artist could have found himself a place on the team at WETA.
There were many manuscript pages filled with Tolkien’s tight, flourishy handwriting, written first in pencil, then erased and crossed-out, then written over in ink. It’s amazing to me that these were able to be deciphered and included in the books.
There were quite a few different, and often large, hand-drawn maps of Middle-earth; original book jackets for LotR; some of the charming drawings and letters from Father Christmas that Tolkien sent to his children. And there were illustrations I’d never seen before – beautiful pieces expressing Tolkien’s vision of Fairy and his ideas about how creativity flows. There were even full-sized newspaper pages crammed with his colorful doodles, some quite Elven in style.
One thing that really struck me was a hand-calligraphed
letter that was meant to be reproduced and included at the end of the Lord of
the Rings, but unfortunately, the publishers nixed the idea. The letter was
from Aragorn to Master Samwise, letting Sam know the King would be stopping for
a visit outside the Shire. The letter has two versions side-by-side written in
Tengwar – one in Sindarin, the common tongue, and one in the high-Elven speech,
And there was mention of an epilogue for LotR that Tolkien wanted to write. In it Sam was to tell his family what happens to all the characters after the end of the Lord of the Rings. When I researched this further, I found a snippet of his intended conclusion, which appears in the ninth volume of “The History of Middle-earth”:
‘… said Elanor. “A story is quite
different, even when it is about what happened. I wish I could go back to old
of our sort often wish that,” said Sam. “You came at the end of a great age,
Elanor; but though it’s over… things don’t really end sharp like that… There
are still things for you to see, and maybe you’ll see them sooner than you
It makes me think Tolkien knew that his epic story would go on and on, even if he could never have imagined the film-making technology that would become available to make it happen.
I hope you have a chance to see the
exhibit, for it is truly incredible and a joy to behold.
AP – Elizabeth Jones, “Betty,” Ballantine, passed away on Tuesday, February 12 at her home in Bearsmouth, New York. She was 99 years old. Together with her husband, Ian, who passed away in 1995, they Founded Bantam Books and Ballantine Books, expanding and mainstreaming the market for paperback books in the U.S. Of course, the name ‘Ballantine Books’ is near and dear to readers of J.R.R. Tolkien. What lover of Tolkien’s books doesn’t have several beloved, dog-eared Ballantine editions of “The Hobbit” and/or “The Lord of the Rings” on their bookshelves?
Great news for lovers of Tolkien-inspired art. TORn’s good friend Donato Giancola is to release a new collection of his incredible Middle-earth paintings, Middle-earth: Journeys in Myth and Legend. Published by Dark Horse, the volume will be available in April.
Giancola shares some insight into the development of the book on the blog MuddyColors; click here to read more.
To preorder the book, visit Giancola’s website, here. For those who’d like to splash out on a Limited Edition, Giancola and Shawn Speakman (of the SignedPage.com) are offering signed and embossed books; the emboss is the sigil of the Kings of Gondor. Click here to order one.
If you aren’t familiar with Donata Giancola’s work, you have a treat in store. He is an astonishing artist – and also a very nice guy, whom TORn followers may have met at past TORn events. Don’t miss out on getting a copy of this fabulous book – and check out some sneak previews of content, above right and below:
Just a reminder that the incredible Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition is still on at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. You have until October 28th to see this astonishing collection of manuscripts and artefacts from Tolkien’s work and life. American fans will then have the opportunity to see most of the exhibition, together with some new additions, at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, from January 2019; and from October 2019 to February 2020, an even bigger collection (which will include some of this current display) will be on show at the Bibliotheque nationale de France. (This will be the first time that the French national library has ever curated an exhibition about a non-French author, and will include items from their own collection, setting Tolkien’s works in the wider context of fantasy literature.)
Earlier this summer, TORn staffer greendragon had the opportunity to sit down with the Bodleian’s Tolkien archivist, Catherine McIlwaine, to find out some more about the behind-the-scenes work which went into creating this exhibition. McIlwaine was already a big fan of Middle-earth herself, so it has been the perfect job for her; as she put it herself, she was in the right place at the right time! Originally hired to create a detailed catalogue of the library’s Tolkien collection – a job which she thought would last for a couple of years – McIlwaine never expected to find herself, fifteen years later, curating such an extensive exposition of the Professor’s life and work.
The Bodleian owns a very large collection of material relating to J.R.R. Tolkien, totaling approximately 500 boxes of manuscript items! Much was donated by the Tolkien family in 1979; though manuscripts for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and Farmer Giles of Ham had been sold to Marquette University by Tolkien himself in the late 1950s, the rest of his manuscripts, academic and personal papers reside with the Bodleian. The current display features over 200 items, roughly half of which have never been seen by the public before; fascinating doodles on the back of completed crossword puzzles, and scribblings such as the opening lines of Beowulf written in tengwar, are amongst the treasures.
Staffer greendragon with exhibition curator Catherine McIlwaine (left)
Marquette University have been very supportive of the exposition, and have allowed many items from their collection to be included; McIlwaine said that the highlight of planning the exhibition, for her, was the opportunity to travel to Milwaukee twice, and to get to know the staff at Marquette. The ‘Maker of Middle-earth’ show sees some of Tolkien’s manuscripts and original art works being reunited for the first time since the 1950s!
Also featured in the current display are Tolkien’s own writing desk, chair, and some of his pipes, exclusively loaned by the Tolkien family, who have been very supportive of the endeavour. Christopher, Tolkien’s son and the editor of many of his works, was unfortunately not able to travel to visit the show, but his wife attended, and was delighted by it.
This enormous exposition (which still only reveals about three-quarters of the Bodleian’s current Tolkien archive – which is still growing!) was five years in the planning, with 18 months of full-time work in the run up to opening. The release of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies was the chief impetus, prompting the Bodleian to think that the time was ripe for such a showing; and the Tolkien Trust were eager to support it, to give something back to the fans. (Tickets to the exhibition are free!) Much of the content on display is usually only available to researchers – and access is closely restricted. Here, fans have the opportunity (in many cases, for the first time) to peer closely at Tolkien’s tengwar scrawl on an academic paper; and to gain an insight, through personal letters, into his family relationships.
For me (greendragon), highlights of the exhibition included Tolkien’s letters from his mother. I had no idea that she had taught him his beautiful calligraphy – I always assumed it was something he dreamed up himself. When you see the letters from his mother, however, it is very clear whence that unique script originated. Another family touch I loved were the sketches Tolkien created for his son Michael, to help him deal with nightmares. There was a recurring ‘monster’ which tormented Michael, and following his description, his father drew the beast – now named ‘Owlamoo’ – to help Michael confront and defeat his fears. I love the rather cross-looking owl-creature; and this display of fatherly affection is very touching.
Throughout the run of the exhibition, there have been various lectures and events in Oxford. A self-guided walking tour of ‘Tolkien’s Oxford‘ has been very popular, and many of the evening lectures have been sold out. Some exhibition tickets, however, have deliberately been held back for each day, so that there are always some available.
For anyone who can’t make it over to Oxford, I heartily recommend the exhibition catalogue. It is the biggest catalogue the Bodleian has ever produced, and it even includes archival items not seen in the display! As the exhibition website states, the book ‘brings together the largest collection of original Tolkien material ever assembled in a single volume. Drawing on the archives of the Tolkien collections at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, and Marquette University, Milwaukee, as well as private collections, this exquisitely produced catalogue draws together the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien – scholarly, literary, creative and domestic – offering a rich and detailed understanding and appreciation of this extraordinary author.’ Worth every penny; visit the exhibition shop to see some of the other goodies on offer.
Cliff and Justin are welcoming a very special guest to TORn Tuesday today – and they’re going live at an earlier time than usual, so they can have Dwalin himself, aka Graham McTavish, join them at the Scum and Villainy Cantina!
Amongst the many topics the conversation will undoubtedly cover, McTavish will be revealing more about his upcoming directorial debut, horror comedy This Guest of Summer. McTavish has described the film as ‘The Wicker Man meets Withnail & I’, in the style of some of the more camp 1970s Hammer Horror films! Part of the funding for the movie is being raise by crowdfunder, and there are some amazing Hobbit related perks on the Indiegogo campaign. Weta artist Daniel Falconer is creating a new, original illustration of McTavish as Dwalin, which will be mounted and framed along with a golden coin from Smaug’s lair – taken from the set of the movie! This extraordinary, unique piece – which will of course be signed by Falconer and McTavish – could be yours, to hang on your wall and be the envy of your fellow fans!
There are also hardback editions of The Hobbit to be had – signed by McTavish, Adam Brown, Aidan Turner and Ian McKellen! Plus other items signed by Hobbit actors. The campaign only has FOUR days left to run, so head over there now and grab yourself an incredible collectible!
“The Fall of Gondolin” by J.R.R. Tolkien Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
“The Fall of Gondolin,” — the third part of the J.R.R. Tolkien great trilogy of tales of the Elder Days — is now available in bookstores.
This simple sentence should be a great delight to Tolkien readers the world over. Newly published Tolkien material in 2018, from The Professor, who died in September, 1972, is astounding. Adding to the astonishing treasure is that son Christopher Tolkien, wrote just a year ago in “Beren and Luthien” that:
“In my ninety-third year this is (presumptively) my last book in the long series of editions of my father’s writings.”
Readers and fans may feel gratitude that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote enough and kept enough notes to continue to supply content close to fifty years after his death and that his son continues to have the will and ability in his elder years to collect, prepare and produce further content.
I wish I could thank him in person. We are living in the decade when Tolkien’s writings are more prolific, available and recognized than ever before.
It was published simultaneously in several languages by numerous Tolkien publishers worldwide, in the U.S. by long-time Tolkien publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
“The Fall of Gondolin” takes readers back in Middle-earth’s history considerably before the most commonly known events in “The Lord of the Rings,” and “The Hobbit,” to an era when Sauron wasn’t the great power of evil in the world; his predecessor Morgoth and his fortress of Angband were.
Opposing him is Ulmo, a heavyweight Valar, the group who shaped and ruled the earth. Ulmo secretly supported the Elves.
Gondolin, the city of Noldorin Elves, was magnificent and undiscoverable by Morgoth’s forces and therefore untouchable by him. It isn’t a spoiler to say that the “Fall of Gondolin” is about the betrayal and discovery of the city and the war from Morgoth’s armies in Middle-earth’s First Age.
The content isn’t completely new. There are chapters about these events in “The Book of Lost Tales Part Two” as part of the History of Middle-earth books and parts titled “Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin” in “The Silmarillion.”
Tuor, is aided by Ulmo, who even appears to him from the sea — a moment that is famously the subject of notable artwork.
It is Tuor and Idril who are some of the few to escape, with a young Eärendel, who eventually had two sons, Elros and the familiar Elrond, giving the tale a tie to “The Lord of the Rings.”
The book is published to fit the look and style of the others in the great trilogy of stories. It is edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee.
it is also worth noting that this is one of the earliest tales J.R.R. Tolkien wrote. He called it, “the first real story of this imaginary world.”
It may be the last published.
The book is $30.00 in hardcover and is available as an e-book.
Newsweek: J.R.R. Tolkien – Celebrating the Professor’s Greatest Creations[Media Lab Publishing] is on newsstands and store check-out lanes now.
This is a beautiful, high-quality, glossy 100-page issue full of articles, information on both books and films, and many full-page photos. A wonderful collectible opening with an introduction by Shaun Gunner, Chair of the Tolkien Society.
Still haven’t found the perfect gift for the Tolkien fan in your life? Let us help! We’ve assembled a list of our favorite items and where to find them. Happy Holidays from all of us at TheOneRing.net!
*Prices listed are in US dollars ($); prices may vary from what is listed.
Fans who are waiting to hear further news about a possible Lord of the Rings television series can keep themselves busy for a while with a new publication of Tolkien’s poem, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun. Although this work was released by UK publishers Harper Collins last year, it is available today from American publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Here’s what they tell us about the book:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is proud to announce the publication on November 7, 2017 of THE LAY OF AOTROU AND ITROUN by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Verlyn Flieger. Unavailable for more than 70 years, this early but important work is published for the first time with Tolkien’s ‘Corrigan’ poems and other supporting material, including a prefatory note by Christopher Tolkien.
Set ‘In Britain’s land beyond the seas’ during the Age of Chivalry, THE LAY OF AOTROU AND ITROUN tells of a childless Breton Lord and Lady (the ‘Aotrou’ and ‘Itroun’ of the title) and the tragedy that befalls them when Aotrou seeks to remedy their situation with the aid of a magic potion obtained from a corrigan, or malevolent fairy. When the potion succeeds and Itroun bears twins, the corrigan returns seeking her fee, and Aotrou is forced to choose between betraying his marriage and losing his life.
Coming from the darker side of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination, THE LAY OF AOTROU AND ITROUN, together with the two shorter ‘Corrigan’ poems that lead up to it and which are also included, was the outcome of a comparatively short but intense period in Tolkien’s life when he was deeply engaged with Celtic, and particularly Breton, myth and legend.
Originally written in 1930 and long out of print, this early but seminal work is an important addition to the non-Middle-earth portion of his canon and should be set alongside Tolkien’s other retellings of myth and legend, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, The Fall of Arthur and The Story of Kullervo. Like these works, it belongs to a small but important corpus of his ventures into ‘real-world’ mythologies, each of which in its own way would be a formative influence on his own legendarium.
We have FIVE copies to give away to lucky fans in the US! To enter, simply complete the entry form, and answer the following question:
Who is the editor of this new edition of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun?
Complete the entry form by 5pm EST on Monday 13th November. [Enter Here] Five winners will then be chosen at random, and a copy of the latest Tolkien publication will be mailed to them. Good luck! (Sorry, this competition is only available to fans living in the United States.)
For those who don’t win, you can buy the book here; and it is also available as an e-book.
UPDATE: Many thanks to all who entered our competition. The winners have been notified by email, and their books are on the way to them!
Almost four years ago I showed off my collection as it looked upon putting it in its own room. A lot has happened since then and I thought it was time to show how things look right now. As you will see I’ve added a lot of pieces, cabinet, and bookshelf since the last time I showed off my collection. This is for me, as I said, my way of showing off how much I love Middle-earth. My collection encompasses pieces from Weta Workshop, Sideshow Collectibles, Badali Jewelry, Noble Collection, United Cutlery, and even custom pieces. So I hope you enjoy taking a tour of my collection. (more…)
TORn will be doing a panel at San Diego Comic Con on Friday, July 21 at 5pm at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina Hotel in the Grand Ballrooms 1 & 2. The Grand Ballroom is located to the right of the main Lobby as you enter from outside, we are in sections 1 & 2.
Our panel is titled “Still Tolkien about it: 80 years of Middle-earth” and will include discussion about how Professor Tolkien is still influencing pop culture, especially in Art, Literature, music, cosplay, gaming and collectibles. And as always, there will be singing.
The panel will end just before 6pm, and then everyone who wants to gather together can do so at the Marina Kitchen restaurant, also on the Lobby level but down left, at the far end of the Southern building, closest to the Convention Center.
The Hotel has not replied to us about trying to pre-book space, so like I said, we are just going to flash mob it, Middle-earth style.
For anyone showing up in Tolkien cosplay, we will grab a group photo in the Hotel lobby area by the restaurant, before heading inside, or maybe just as we hang out waiting to get into the restaurant.
Like with the Ice Cream social a few years back, this will be an informal gathering, stealth Ranger style. We are going to descend upon the restaurant and see if they will just seat everyone near each other, hopefully. There is a bar/lounge area just before entering the restaurant, so that may be where the bulk of everyone ends up. But those who want food, I highly recommend this place, even if it’s just to share some appetizers.
Our panel ends before the main hall closes next door at the Convention Center, so there should be fewer people to compete with than after 7pm. Anyhow, looking to arrive at the Marina Kitchen restaurant between 6:15pm and 6:30pm or so and staying until 8pm or beyond, allowing people to then hit up any of the other parties, screenings, and late night activities you want.
Please only RSVP attending if you will be at either the panel (which requires an SDCC badge) or at the Moot at the Marina Kitchen restaurant within the Marriott Marquis (no badge required for this one).
Yesterday saw the publication of a new book – but not a new story – by J. R. R. Tolkien. Almost a century after the Professor first conceived his tale of immortal love, Beren and Luthien has been edited by his son Christopher, and illustrated by Alan Lee. It is published in the UK by Harper Collins, in the US by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and in multiple languages by different publishers across the world. Harper Collins tell us:
The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.
Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.
Alan Lee’s beautiful back cover illustration
In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.
The publication comes ten years after the last Middle-earth work of Tolkien’s to come to press, Children of Hurin. You can read more about this new release here. We’d love to read your reviews – share your thoughts in the comments below!
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