The Chicago Fellowship visited the Tolkien Archives at Marquette last month. This is a report from Ringer Spy Jocelyn.
Sing hey! for the bath at the close of day
That washes the weary mud away!
The original draft of The Bath Song is on display at the Tolkien Archives, housed at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fourteen members of The Chicago Fellowship saw this and other treasures during our second visit on Sunday, March 30.
You can read more about the Marquette Archives here and here.
We started with second breakfast at Miss Katie’s Diner (excellent omlets). We know Orcrist’s RW name! And True-Hearted Easterling, Lizzybit, and others. Getting acquainted was delightful. Our Red Book was passed around for everyone to write in. We are, of course, all obssessed. As a friend of mine says, “Step away from the Ring.” Why?
After breakfast we walked to the library – Smaug’s treasure is nothing compared to this.
The collection includes the complete manuscripts for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Farmer Giles of Ham and Mr. Bliss (and more). The archivist, Matt Blessing, explained items from six files (out of hundreds). We saw notes Tolkien wrote (on whatever paper was available) about the lunar phases and dates, so the text would be accurate. There were also notes on how fast hobbits can walk – four miles an hour (or maybe that was orcs carrying hobbits!). The latest acquisitions include a Tolkien letter purchased by MU, and a box of goodies associated with the movies donated by D. Anderson
during his visit last November (press kits, book jackets, candy and more).
The exhibit is divided into several sections: The Imagined World, with pages in Tolkien’s handwriting about the Speech of the Rohirrim and other topics; In the Mines of Moria, featuring Tolkien’s colored drawings of pages from the Book of Mazarbul; The Poetry and Songs of Middle-earth with The Bath Song, The Old Walking-Song, The SOng of the Mounds of Mundberg, and the Song of Beren and Luthien among others; The Family Trees of Hobbits (very detailed and delightfult o read); The Epilogue – with a letter wriiten by Aragorn to Samwise in Sindarian and the COmmon Speech (ha! we saw the King’s handwriting!), and finally, Illustrations for a Manuscript, with sketches. Sigh.
The archives close in mid-April, as they prepare to move to the new library next door. They expect to re-open in early July. There will be one major change, however – no pages from the original manuscripts or notes will be displayed (only photocopies). The new space has windows, and the precious records cannot be exposed to sunlight. If you live nearby, go soon!
IMPORTANT NEWS: For the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Lord of the Rings, Marquette is hosting a major conference. Dates: October 21-23, 2004. A website for pre-registration should be up by late summer.
On our first visit, we noted that they do collect written materials. This visit, Mirza presented the following books to the collection on behalf of the Chicago Fellowship: A Tolkien Compass; LoTR, volume 1 and 3 in Spanish; and the J.R.R. Tolkien Trvia Quiz Book.
IMPORTANT NEWS #2: We are adopting the Tolkien Archives as our project, but anyone can help. The supplementary collection includes versions of the LoTR and The Hobbit in various languages as well as earlier editions, calendars, other books published about Tolkien and his works, and a growing collection of letters written by Tolkien. There are also collections donated by Tolkien scholars, such as Blackwelder. Currently, the new publications are purchased as funds are available. Please check the holdings at www.mu.edu before donating — but complete sets of the Decipher and Topps trading cards would be nice! Funds are also needed to purchase more of the letters – or if you have one, please consider donating or loaning it.
We ended our journey with a visit to the Joan of Arc chapel (http://www.marquette.edu/places/joanarc.html), the spiritual heart of the campus (and very close to the library) – a medieval building transported from France (yes, it does look like it should be in the movies!).
Will we go back? Of course – to see the new archives room, and to the 2004 conference. See you there!