anonymous writes: I attended the opening reception for an exhibit of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original manuscripts and working drafts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings at the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. Anyone who is a fan of Tolkien has an opportunity to view this exhibit through January, 2005. I would urge anyone who can attend to do so. It’s thrilling to see the words of a beloved book in the author’s own hand. Several drafts of the Book of Marzabul are on display, including a colored version and a translation of the dwarvish runes. Below is information about the exhibit and the Tolkien Archives that reside at Marquette.

The Invented Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien Drawings and Original Manuscripts from the Marquette University Collection October 21- January 30, 2005
(Tolkien Conference Oct. 22-23)

The well-known English novelist and philologist, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit and the children’s story Mr. Bliss. Work from all three will be featured in the exhibition which is being presented in collaboration with the Department of Special Collections and University Archives Marquette University and in conjunction with the International Conference The Lord of the Rings, 1954-2004: Scholarship in honor of Dr. Richard E. Blackwelder.

The collection of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973), professor of Old and Middle English language and literature at Oxford University, 1925-1959, contains the original manuscripts and multiple working drafts for three of the author’s most celebrated books, The Hobbit (1937), Farmer Giles of Ham (1949), and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), as well as the original copy of the children’s book Mr. Bliss (published in facsimile form in 1982). The collection includes books by and about Tolkien, periodicals produced by Tolkien enthusiasts, audio and video recordings, and a host of published and unpublished materials relating to Tolkien’s life and fantasy writings.

Tolkien manuscripts reside at Marquette because of the vision of William B. Ready (1914-1981), director of libraries from 1956 to 1963. Ready was appointed with the understanding that he would aggressively collect material for the newly-constructed Memorial Library. He recognized The Lord of the Rings as a masterpiece soon after its publication, long before the work and its author gained enormous popularity. With administrative approval, Ready approached Tolkien in 1956 through Bertram Rota, a well-known rare book dealer in London. At the time, no other institution had expressed an interest in Tolkien’s literary manuscripts. After a relatively brief period of negotiation, an agreement was reached whereby Marquette purchased the manuscripts for 1,500 pounds (or less than $5,000). The first shipment of material arrived in 1957; The Lord of the Rings manuscripts arrived the next year. Tolkien accepted offers to visit and speak at Marquette in both 1957 and 1959, but on each occasion he canceled the anticipated visit due to family concerns. Tolkien’s personal and academic papers, as well as his other literary manuscripts (e.g. The Silmarillion and Leaf by Niggle), are at the Bodleian Library of Oxford University.