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.
New York Comic Con is almost here – the fun starts tomorrow, and runs 4-7 October at the Javits Center. You can find TheOneRing.net at booth number 1678; please come and say hi! We’ll have buttons and shirts for sale – this year’s designs for t-shirts are ‘Top Ten Authors’ (the Professor is of course #1!), and ‘Not all those who wander are Lost’. We also have our usual ‘lucky dip’ with some amazing prizes to be won. Be sure to come and find us!
And don’t forget – we’re teaming up with Sideshow to host a party in Manhattan! Tickets are still available for Ringers take Manhattan on FRIDAY 5th October8-11pm at Tir na Nog pub in Times Square – that’s 315 West 39th Street.
You don’t have to be attending New York Comic Con to come along – all are welcome! Tickets are only $15 this year – and include your first drink, finger food throughout the evening, and two tickets for the evening’s fabulous raffle. You can buy tickets by clicking here.
Looking forward to seeing lots of Middle-earth fans this weekend!
New York Comic Con is just around the corner; and TheOneRing.net will be there! We’ll have a booth at the Javits Center, where we’ll be selling tshirts and buttons, chatting with fellow fans, and giving out some amazing prizes… You can find us at booth number 1678, October 4-7. Be sure to come and find us!
We’ll also be teaming up with Sideshow to host a party in Manhattan! This year our Ringers take Manhattan event is on FRIDAY 5th October (nb not Thursday this year), 8-11pm. The party will be at Tir na Nog pub in Times Square – that’s 315 West 39th Street. You can expect a great atmosphere, with fun decor and even some themed drinks!
You don’t have to be attending New York Comic Con to come along – all are welcome! Tickets are only $15 this year! – and include your first drink, finger food throughout the evening, and two tickets for the evening’s exciting raffle. You can buy tickets by clicking here.
Hope to see lots of folks in Manhattan – let’s take the Big Apple by storm! See you in a few weeks!
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!
Games Workshop, Ltd. will be releasing a new game, Battle of Pelennor Fields, the first new boxed game in their Middle-earth line of tabletop miniatures games since their Escape from Goblin Town game in 2012, and their first self-contained Lord of the Rings product since 2005’s Mines of Moria.
On Tuesday 28th August Graham McTavish sat down with Susan Damon from Sideshow Collectibles, to chat about all things geeky, and about his experiences playing some iconic roles. McTavish describes how, as a geek himself, he had to force himself to stay calm in moments such as knocking on a round, green door and watching it swing open, as he visited Bag End for the first time. He also discusses food fights in Bag End, and shooting the incredible barrels out of bond scene – and how good-looking dwarves often seem to come to a sticky end…
McTavish talked about Preacher, Lucifer, and his upcoming directorial debut, ‘This Guest of Summer‘. The movie, which will co-star fellow ‘dwarves’ Dean O’Gorman and Adam Brown, is being partially financed by crowdfunding. Fans may want to check out the Indiegogo campaign, here – there are some amazing perks to be claimed, including the chance to visit Hobbiton in NZ with McTavish himself!
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.
One of my favorite pieces from Comic-Con 2018 was the amazing Balrog bust that showed up Saturday of the show. I got to see this piece up close both as what you can order now and a pre-prototype. I have to say that I very much prefer what fans will be able to order. The clear resin flames that light up are so freaking cool and well done. Our friends at Weta Workshop have done a superb job of using the right paints to make sure these look just right, which is tough when you go for the clear resin on flames. Jamie Beswarick as usual knocks the overall sculpt of the Balrog out of the park and as a fan of the character I love his work on this creature. Fans can order this piece right now for $699 and with an edition size of 888 he won’t be around too long. As a bonus fans won’t have to wait too long to get him as he’s due to ship in November of this year. (more…)
One of the new Mini Epics revealed at Comic-Con 2018 last month was my favorite creature within Middle-earth The Balrog. This guy has had me mesmerized ever since I saw it on the big screen, when I first saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I’ve got several collectibles of him in my collection and when it was pointed out that they had this one for sale at the show, I had to have him.
You can get the Balrog for $99 and depending on where you have him shipped from, can get him shipped right now. He’s a massive piece, quite heavy, and super well done. Added with the very cool anime style of this line, its another great piece from our friends at Weta Workshop. Also joining the review as a special guest, is a Mini Epic of the Ring-bearer himself. Frodo Baggins. (more…)
Comic-Con 2018 is in the books, and if you followed us on Social Media you had a chance to see us share what was going on at our friends at Weta Workshop’s booth. Now that I’m back, I wanted to share all the pics I took of the wonderful things I saw at their booth. They had the jaw dropping (watch a recap of the Weta live video when they unveiled the new pieces) Master Collection Treebeard, new Balrog Bust, and the stunning Arwen on Asfaloth. All of these pieces were absolutely awesome and all may end up in my collection! The one piece we can all add right now is the Arwen on Asfaloth statue. She comes in with a price tag of $699 and an edition size of 750. However, fans will have to be patient until early 2019 to get her. In the meantime please enjoy the booth tour and various shots of what amazingness was at the Weta booth. (more…)
Easily one of the show stealing pieces last year at SDCC, Thranduil on Elk just drew you in when you visited the Weta Workshop booth. This had fans online chattering at just how amazing it looked through the pictures posted by TORn and other collectors at SDCC. Needless to say, all of us were looking forward to his arrival. There were some snags on the production version, making this a somewhat controversial piece within the fanbase. It’s still a super impressive and overall good looking piece and one that will look good in your collection. As always here are my thoughts on Thranduil on Elk. (more…)
First, we want to thank all of you who have joined TheOneRing.net Collectors Club and shared some of your very cool Middle-earth related collectibles. This has been so much fun having you all involved with Collecting The Precious.
As you all are aware we ran a contest with our friends at Gemr until the end of June. The winners have been picked, confirmed, and items have been mailed.
We want to congratulate the following members of the club: Congratulations @gabe.meek98 ! Who won a larger than life bus stop poster for The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies! We hope you have a wall big enough for this bad boy. Congratulations @madeyegamgee ! Who won Weta Mini Ringwraith Statue! It’s pocket-sized evil! Congratulations @feerthedragon ! Who won an XL Treebeard Funko Pop! It’s bigger than other Pops but a LOT smaller than the real Treebeard — so it will actually fit on a shelf!
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