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!
I feel it in the water… I smell it in the air. The beast has emerged from its lair, and DragonCon is here again! Here’s what you can expect from Middle-earth fandom, and from TheOneRing.net, this weekend:
We’ll have our usual ‘fan table’ in our normal spot, in the Hyatt hotel opposite the entrance to the Art Show. There we’ll have buttons and shirts for sale; here’s a glimpse of our merchandise for this year:
We’ll also have other goodies for you to look at, maybe a few giveaways, and we’ll be happy as ever to chat with our fellow fans!
The High Fantasy track will be in L401-403 in the Marriott, and there are various panels which will be of interest to Tolkien fans; such as a discussion about The Inklings (Saturday 2.30pm), ‘Valar-ous Women of Middle-earth’ (Sunday 5.30pm), and TORn’s own ‘They’re taking the Hobbits to Amazon!’ panel (Sunday 4pm, in a bigger room – Marriott A601-602).
Then of course Friday night is the EVENING AT BREE! From 8.30pm in the Grand Salon West (Hilton), join us for music and revelry! Bands Toucan Dubh and Landloch’d will play, the Elf Choir will sing, and we’ll have the ever popular costume contest – possibly with a celebrity host or two…
(Don’t forget, if you want to sign up for the costume contest, you need to do it IN ADVANCE of the ‘Evening at Bree’. Go to the High Fantasy Track Room (Marriott L401-403) or visit the TORn fan table before 6pm on Friday to sign up to participate.)
Middle-earth celebrity guests this year are Graham McTavish (Dwalin), John Noble (Denethor), Dean O’Gorman (Fili), and Craig Parker (Haldir). On Sunday morning, 11.30am in the Marriott Imperial Ballroom, TORn staffer greendragon will be hosting these gentlemen in the ‘Heroes of Middle-earth’ session.
In addition to all that, there will be lots of Tolkien characters marching in the Parade on Saturday morning, and there will be all the usual opportunities to spend far too short a time among such excellent and admirable fans! Hope to see you there – let the fun begin!
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!
News just in from our friends at Amazon Studios – team JD Payne and Patrick McKay are on board to develop The Lord of the Rings Original Series. Here’s what the press release tells us:
After a long process and extensive search, which involved going to Middle Earth and back, Amazon Studios is thrilled to share the news with fans, elves and the Amazon Prime Video audience everywhere that we have chosen the duo of JD Payne and Patrick McKay to take us on the development journey for The Lord of The Rings.
Of their involvement in The Lord of the Rings, Payne & McKay said: “The rich world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is filled with majesty and heart, wisdom and complexity. We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Amazon to bring it to life anew. We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”
Writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay have been working together since meeting on the high school debate team more than two decades ago. Their most recent projects include writing Star Trek 4 for Paramount and producer J.J. Abrams, adapting Jungle Cruise for Disney and stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, and setting up their original, 2017 Blacklist drama scriptEscape with Academy Award-nominated producer Mike DeLuca.
Finally, while speculation is human nature, you can trust that when we have more news to share about this journey, we will share it with the world.
Payne and McKay
About The Lord of the Rings Original Series Based on the celebrated fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, Amazon Studios has a multi-season commitment for The Lord of the Rings. The upcoming Amazon Prime Original will be produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Set in Middle Earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.
A world-renowned literary work, and winner of the International Fantasy Award and Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, The Lord of the Rings novels was named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999 and Britain’s best-loved novel of all time in BBC’s The Big Read in 2003. Its theatrical adaptations, from New Line Cinema and Director Peter Jackson, earned a combined gross of nearly $6 billion worldwide. With an all-star cast that included Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin and Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered a combined 17 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Amazon may tell us that they will share any news when they have it, but rest assured, here at TORn we’ll be speculating all the way through to the first episode and beyond! Stay tuned…
Earlier this summer, TORn staffer greendragon had the great pleasure of going across to Edinburgh to meet with the good folks at Oscha Slings, a Scottish company who are our fellow licensees with Middle-earth Enterprises. This company, created by a father and daughter who are both big fans of Tolkien, makes beautiful fabrics, primarily for baby wraps, but also for wonderful throws, scarves and bags.
The company started after daughter Zoe fell in love with using a baby sling with her own children. She wanted to support parents who like the ‘baby wrap’ way of carrying (or even ‘wearing’!) an infant, and felt that most fabric designs were based on what the children would like, rather than what parents might like to wear. There was a gap in the market for elegant fabrics, and so Zoe and her graphic designer father began creating celtic, mythical and art nouveau weaves. As big fans for Middle-earth, they were delighted to be able to secure a license from Middle-earth Enterprises, and so begin dreaming up amazing designs, in a variety of art styles to represent the different races of Tolkien’s realm.
All of Oscha Slings fabrics are designed in Scotland and woven in England. They source their materials in the UK as far as is possible, and always make sure that anything they use is cruelty free, as organic as possible, and uses no harmful chemicals. (The company feel strongly that being as ecologically friendly as possible would be approved of by the Professor.) They have an army of fans, and when you see their incredible work, it’s not surprising! Many of the baby wrap fans are also Tolkien fans, and they are very vocal about what they want to see; one fan even designed a Mithril pattern for Oscha Slings! They have very active fans on Facebook, and 35,000 members in their international fan-run community – they’re no strangers to passionate fan bases!
Oscha also have plenty of items for those of us who don’t have babies to transport! Fans have even been known to hang their fabrics on the wall, as beautiful tapestries. Others have ordered smaller pieces of the fabrics to use for their own quilting projects.
We’re hoping to have some goodies from Oscha Slings for fans to look at (and maybe even take home) at DragonCon and New York ComicCon this year. Meanwhile, you can check out all the gorgeous items available at Oscha Slings here.
A week or so ago, we reported that Graham McTavish (aka Dwalin) is going to be directing his first movie, a horror comedy called This Guest of Summer. He’ll be joined in it by fellow dwarf actors Adam Brown (Ori) and Dean O’Gorman (Fili), along with Graham’s Outlander chums Stephen Walters (Angus) and Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh).
Having promised to keep TORn in the loop (and let us have behind the scenes access when filming gets going!), Graham has been in touch to let us know the crowdfunder has passed the halfway mark! They’ve also been adding many cool ‘perks’ along the way. For example, you (well, your photo!) could appear as part of the set dressing of the film. Or you could have a unique piece of art work created specially for you by a cast member (imagine if Dean O’Gorman wrote you a poem…!) Or – in the ‘Grand Perk package’ – you could have a special guided tour of Hobbiton in New Zealand with Graham himself!
Here’s Graham to tell you a bit more about the film:
And this is what Dean O’Gorman has to say:
Check out the Indiegogo campaign here, show the lads your support, and see what goodies you might like to claim! And watch TORn for news as filming gets underway.
Exciting news for dwarf lovers! Graham McTavish, better known to Hobbit fans as Dwalin, is directing his first movie. McTavish will also appear in the film, and is joined by fellow dwarf actors Adam Brown (Ori) and Dean O’Gorman (Fili). Their director is roping in a few of his Outlander co-stars too, for good measure – actors Stephen Walters (Angus) and Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh) will also be along for the ride.
The film is called This Guest of Summer, and promises to be a very funny but dark horror-comedy. Here at TORn we’re especially pleased, as we’ve been promised behind the scenes access and info; and you too could be involved in this new project! Whilst the independent film does have backing, McTavish and his team have taken it upon themselves to raise some of the budget – so they are crowd funding.
For as little as $10, you could be part of the effort to make this movie happen – and there are some VERY cool perks to be had! For $150, you could have one of the cast record your answer phone greeting for you – stun your friends when Dwalin answers their calls! Other perks include a chance to interview a cast member, or you could claim a piece of treasure from Smaug’s lair! A gold coin from the set of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films could be yours – along with a photo of the three dwarves with said coin, which they will then send to you (if they can be persuaded to part with it…)
Check out the Indiegogo campaign here, and see what goodies you might like to claim! And watch TORn for news as this film gets underway.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks… Since March 19, characters from Middle-earth, and other roles played by the same actors, have been battling it out to claim the title Champion of Middle-earth March Madness 2018. We started with four brackets comprising roles from The Lord of the Rings movies, other roles by those same actors, roles from The Hobbit movies, and alter-egos for those cast members. The brackets were mixed, to give actors a chance of coming up against ‘themselves’ – and indeed in Round 3 we did see Christopher Lee’s Saruman go up against his Count Dooku, and Lee Pace’s Ronan face his majestically-eyebrowed Thranduil.
Boromir fell in the first round, defeated by Gimli, but Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark did make it all the way to Round 3, where he was conquered by eventual semi-finalist Samwise Gamgee. Sam made it the furthest of all the hobbits; Merry and Pippin both went out in Round 1, and Frodo fell to Aragorn in Round 2. Both Martin Freeman’s and Ian Holm’s Bilbos were knocked out back in Round 1; they had tough battles, being drawn against Gandalf and Faramir respectively.
The elves fared rather better, with Galadriel, Elrond and Thranduil all getting through to the Elite Eight (though Legolas, alas, could not get past Aragorn in Round 1). Wizards Saruman and Gandalf joined the elves in Round 4; but poor Radagast was beaten by Dwalin way back in the first round. In the world of men, only Aragorn managed to get as far as the Elite Eight; Dr John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy, Rudy, and Carl from Van Helsing all joined Eddard Stark in being vanquished in the Sweet Sixteen round.
Finally it came down to a duel between Elrond Half-elven and Gollum. The votes have been counted, and we can now announce, this year’s winner is… (more…)
Last two standing – here we are at the Middle-earth March Madness FINAL for 2018. Two – well, not men… – enter, one leaves; who will be Champion this year?
In the Final Four, we saw Samwise Gamgee take on Gollum, and Gandalf face Elrond Half-elven. Both Sam and Gandalf have been Middle-earth March Madness Champions before – twice, in the wizard’s case – but for the other two, the heady heights for the Final Four are new.
The contests were tight; Sam took an early lead in his duel, but by the second day, old Stinker had pulled ahead. Gollum finally went on to win that battle convincingly, claiming over 60% of the vote.
In the second pairing, it was neck and neck right down to the wire, with less than 1% in it at times. In the end, however, elvish power triumphed over Maiar magic, and Half-elven came home with 54.35% of the vote, to Gandalf’s 45.65%.
So this year will definitely see a NEW Champion crowned! Gollum faces Elrond in a fight to the finish. Can tricksssy deviousness overcome the power of a high elf? Will Smeagol help out, making it two against one? You decide!
The Final voting is open NOW. Polls close at 10pm EST on Thursday 5th April; only two days to vote for the Champion, so don’t delay! Last chance to play along with Middle-earth March Madness this year; and don’t forget to check out the ‘exit polls’ on Facebook. Whom do you want to see crowned…? VOTE NOW! [The Final] [Final Four] [Elite Eight] [Round 3 Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]
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