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.
Come join us on the TheOneRing.net Discussion Boards as we celebrate Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthdays today, September 22nd…beloved characters of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels honoured around the world. There will be games and other activities to enjoy throughout the week.
Join Kili and her sweetheart Bard as they visit the varied Tolkien-inspired landscapes of County Kerry (and a little from County Galway), Ireland! Then, maybe learn a thing or two from Bard about fishing for wrasse from the shore. Follow Happy Hobbit on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and of course, subscribe on YouTube to be notified every time there is a new episode!
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!
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.
TOR.n received an exclusive announcement today from Empire -the worlds biggest movie magazine- that they will be publishing a special edition on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, due out next week! Per Empire: “It’s a comprehensive look at all six films using both our archive on-set material and new features. It also features some of the reunions we’ve made happen over the years”.
This will be a print-only edition, and not available as a digital download.
Empire Classics: Return to Middle-earth will be available for purchase world-wide starting Tuesday morning (UK time), 31st July from Great Magazines UK
A note on shipping: “If you have purchased one of our print magazine specials or single issues your purchase will be processed and delivered within 1-3 days for orders within the UK and up to 10 days for orders outside of the UK. In most cases we will deliver your item much quicker but have allowed for bank holidays and weekends.”
For more on what you can expect to see, check out the video below!
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