Brian Sibley and Pauline Baynes are names which will be instantly familiar to many Tolkien fans. Author, broadcaster and screenwriter Sibley scripted a radio version of The Lord of the Rings for the BBC, and his wonderful book The Maps of Middle-earth was illustrated by John Howe. Sibley also wrote The Making of the Movie Trilogy for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies, and the three ‘Official Guides’ for his Hobbit trilogy.

Photograph of writer Brian Sibley

Artist Pauline Baynes, who died in 2008, worked with Tolkien himself, creating maps and illustrations for his works. Many fans will have had her art work on their walls, as she illustrated Middle-earth posters in the early seventies. Her work adorned covers of various editions of the Professor’s works, and she first collaborated with Tolkien when she illustrated Farmer Giles of Ham back in 1949. She also illustrated all of C S Lewis’ Narnia books.

Photograph of artist Pauline Baynes

Baynes and Sibley were friends for many years, and together they created a tale of Osric the Extraordinary Owl. TORn’s good friend Jay Johnstone has finally been able to publish this wonderful work, in a limited edition of just 250 – with a foreword by none other than Tolkien scholar Wayne G. Hammond! Here’s what the official press release tell us:

Osric the Extraordinary Owl resulted from the collaboration of two friends: artist and illustrator Pauline Baynes and writer, dramatist and broadcaster Brian Sibley. It was a friendship spanning more than two-and-a-half decades, with many shared interests, among them the work of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis famously illustrated by Pauline and the subject of acclaimed dramatisations by Brian.

Sibley’s tale of a small grey owl in search of the courage to establish his individuality and ‘be himself’ (but which can be also be read as a ‘coming-out story’) was written in 1970 but had to wait until 2007 to find an artist at a time when Baynes was without any commissions and was wanting opportunities to keep drawing and painting. As a result she produced 22 delightful, double-page illustrations featuring not just Osric and his owl family but also an entire aviary of the most spectacular, colourful birds from black swans and peacocks to flamingos and toucans.

Baynes completed her pictures for Osric the year before her death in 2008 but ‘the extraordinary owl’ had to wait another decade to find a publisher. At the Tolkien Society’s 50th anniversary conference in 2019 noted Tolkien artist Jay Johnstone met Brian Sibley and another of Pauline’s friends, Wayne G. Hammond who, with his wife Christina Scull, is responsible for many key works of Tolkien scholarship and who, as Librarian of the Chapin Library of Rare Books at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, has curatorship of the Pauline Baynes bequest of paintings, drawings. Out of that Tolkien encounter came the decision to finally get Osric’s saga into print.

After a delay, caused by the Covid pandemic, Jay Johnstone is now pleased to announce the publication of Osric the Extraordinary Owl. This collector’s edition hardback book is written by Brian Sibley and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, with a foreword by Wayne G. Hammond. It is designed and produced by Jay Johnstone and comes in a gilded presentation box. Each book is individually numbered and comes with signed book plates by Brian, Wayne and Jay.

Photograph showing the cover of 'Osric the Extraordinary Owl', with a lovely grey and white owl against a blue, starry sky. Also shown is a two page spread inside the book, with an illustration of many varied birds.

Fans of Bayne’s art and Sibley’s writing will not want to miss out on this very limited release. You can find out more by clicking here.

Chinese The Lord of the Rings Trilogy fans were highly anticipating this past weekend as Peter Jackson’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring‘ was due to re-release nationwide – in glorious remastered 4k.

Unfortunately, due to the last second approval by government officials, many Chinese venues did not get the print in time and screenings had to be canceled. Here’s the wrap up from The Hollywood Reporter:

It was another bizarro weekend at the Chinese box office.

The long-anticipated return of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring finally arrived Friday in vividly remastered 4K. But official permission for the rerelease from China’s regulators came so late — just one full day in advance — that marketing for the movie was mostly nonexistent and scores of digital prints failed to reach cinemas on time, forcing a wave of cancelations and refunds to angry customers throughout Friday and into Saturday.

The article continues…

The Fellowship of the Ring, meanwhile, limped into fifth place with just $4.1 million. The opening results for the fantasy classic are a keen disappointment compared to the recent performance of James Cameron’s Avatar, which opened to $23.7 million when it was rereleased in China in March. The perennial appeal of the Lord of the Rings franchise could help Fellowship mount a healthy hold though, much as Avatar did (Cameron’s film has climbed to $60.2 million in second-run sales). Warner Bros. also will get a do-over later this month — assuming all goes to plan (always a big “if” in China) — when Jackson’s The Two Towers re-releases on April 23. Regulators have indicated that the franchise closer The Return of the King will also get a second run in China, but the film — worryingly — still hasn’t been given an official release date.

Hollywood Reporter, April 18th 2021 ‘China Box Office: ‘Lord of the Rings” Derailed by Logistical Issues

Guest writer Matthew Bossons brings us this fascinating look at how Tolkien fandom has made its way to China; and he reflects on whether Amazon’s upcoming Middle-earth series is likely to find fans there.

Panjiayuan is Beijing’s biggest and best-known antique market, regularly attracting orc-like hordes of tourists and locals alike to wander the warren of booths and stalls, both indoor and outside. All manner of old and made-to-look-old items are on offer here: jade carvings, stone Buddha statues, ancient coins, Chinese Communist Party pins and propaganda posters, replica Korean war medals and mounds of books. 

On a brisk October day, while standing at a hawker stand specializing in old Chinese books – mostly Chairman Mao’s iconic ‘Little Red Book’ – I came across a curious title: The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, in English-language and hardcover form. The book, a collection of sketches and maps made by Tolkien, was published in 2015 and compiled by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull – both well-known scholars of the ‘father of high fantasy.’

Cover of 'The Art of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien' - by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull
Continue reading “From Middle-earth to the Middle Kingdom: How Tolkien’s Grand Mythos Found Its Way to China”

Here at TheOneRing.net, we thought we would open the New Year with some words of hope, inspiration, and wisdom from the Professor himself.

What follows is a little survey of TORn staffers, and some denizens from the Barliman’s chatroom, to find out which Tolkien quotes were favorites. At the end of the article, you will be asked to submit your own favorite words of Tolkien.

J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes – The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and more.

Tolkien Quotes on Curiosity

A still from Peter Jackson's first Hobbit movie, showing Martin Freeman as Bilbo, running from the Shire to join the dwarves on an adventure.
Bilbo is going on an Adventure

So much of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is spent walking, riding ponies, in a boat or raft, or on a barrel; so there is a healthy number of quotes regarding travel, but these next two are more than that. They signal curiosity, wanderlust, optimism, and a sense of adventure – something Hobbits are not supposed to be interested in, but aren’t we all glad that a few of them are?

Tookish says he finds a perhaps not obvious optimism – one that faces adversity and the unknown with a steady resolve – here in Bilbo’s Walking Song:

“The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

This writer is a Travel Advisor, and these two quotes have always epitomized what I best love about travel: the wonder of experiencing the unknown. This is exemplified in Frodo’s version of the same walking song, but heard at the end of the tale when the hobbits accompany Bilbo to the Grey Havens:

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon and East of the Sun.”

Tolkien Quotes on Whimsy 

A still from Ralph Bakshi's animated Lord of the Rings film, showing Bilbo giving his birthday speech.
Bilbo’s Birthday speech from Ralph Bakshi

Tolkien throws in a lot of whimsy in The Hobbit, and even in The Lord of the Rings, especially in the earlier parts of the story – almost as if he were trying to balance out some of the much more serious drama later in the book. 

Asa Swain has always liked this little quote about Gandalf, even though it is not very profound – no matter how true the sentiment is: 

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Kristin Thompson, our resident Tolkien Scholar, likes the ever-popular ending to Bilbo Baggins’ birthday speech: 

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

Tolkien Quotes on Wisdom

Alan Lee's painting of Gandalf and Pippin, when they meet Denethor in the throne room of Minas Tirith.
Gandalf and Pippin meet Denethor by Alan Lee

Dwyna says that she realizes that this isn’t a commonly referenced quote, but it speaks to her of how a person can become a hero by playing even a small part in a much larger story. What is started by one person isn’t always ended by the same … we are connected in a bigger tale.

Said by Gandalf during the Council of Elrond:

“But you know well enough now that starting is too great a claim for any, and that only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.”

And Kristin gives us another great Gandalf quote from later in the story; one that exemplifies not just wisdom, but a sense of responsibility:

“Unless the king should come again?” said Gandalf. “Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”

Still from Peter Jackson's The Two Towers, when Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas encounter Eomer and the Riders from Rohan.
Eomer in discussion with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas

Mary Wessel Walker (Ent_Maiden from Barliman’s) suggested this discussion between Eomer and Aragorn, which she loves because it’s ‘words to live by’ that can be a helpful reminder in day-to-day life. She also says this was a very enjoyable passage in the book, because this is their first meeting and they get so deep so fast.

“Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’

As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”

Rob Welch gives us a real gem from Faramir, in discussion with Sam and Frodo once they reach the Ranger stronghold. Here is what Rob has to say: “It is from The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 5 ‘The Window on the West’, spoken by Faramir. I love the line because … as a former police officer, and one who would serve again if I had to, I like the distinction Faramir draws between the necessity of the sword, and the love of it. I can use weapons, but I don’t love them … they are a tool to protect those I care about … whether those are personal, the people I was once sworn to serve, or just my fellow human beings and God’s children that might need me. It may be not a concept that is universally accepted, but I firmly believe that, just as Faramir noted in the passage, there are those who would devour in the world, and we need strong men and women who stand against that … and do for the right love.”

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Numenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom”

Ted Nasmith's painting of Sam and Frodo with Faramir, at the Window on the West.
Window on the West with Faramir, Frodo and Sam; by Ted Nasmith

TORn staffer Elessar has this quote in his email signature:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

Tolkien Quotes on Inspiration

Aaron LaSalle draws this quote directly from Tolkien’s letters:

“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.”

Calisuri really likes Thorin’s quote at the end of The Hobbit, when he finally understands the value of a quiet life:

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Caitlin O’Riordan says this Haldir quote has kept her going this year:

“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

Tolkien Quotes on Resolve

There seems to be a deeper theme to some of Tolkien’s words; not just hope or inspiration, but also a resolve to keep going, to stay committed to the mission and to each other.

Saystine’s favorite quote comes from Gimli, shortly before they depart from Rivendell. She has always liked it because she says, “Life is not always easy. There are struggles and hardships, but it takes commitment and faith that a better place lies beyond to get you through them all.”

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” 

Ashlee chose Sam’s speech in The Two Towers:

“Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. `And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo; adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into? ‘
`I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”

A still from Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring, showing Gandalf and Frodo.
Gandalf and Frodo

Suzanne, Ashlee and Calisuri all mentioned this next quote; and it is probably something our readers have been anticipating:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

Tolkien Quotes on Hope

Both Anne and Earl chose an important scene from near the end of the story. Anne says it is her favorite and has sustained her throughout this difficult year. Earl acknowledges that this year has been so incredibly difficult for so many, and his choice had to be about ‘light and high beauty’:

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”

Earl then follows up this scene with a song from Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol:

“Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.”

Greendragon gives us a short little quote that encapsulates the Hope that Tolkien infused his stories with:

‘… despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.’

Thorongil asks “How does one choose from so many great quotes? Not an easy task, we all love so many.”

He goes on to say, “Like Elessar, my favorite quote is Aragorn’s poem, ‘All that is gold does not glitter…’ Another is a quote from Legolas (that is fairly relatable to how many of us feel now) when he is chasing the Uruk Hai with Aragorn and Gimli”:

” …do not cast all hope away. Tomorrow is unknown. Rede is often found at the rising of the sun.”

And here is a final challenge to our readers from Thorongil:

“I can’t find them now, but there are a few times in the book that the change in wind is mentioned, and hope is renewed in most cases. My memory is really fuzzy here so please help … I think Legolas says it, Gandalf perhaps in Minas Tirith, or at the Black Gates when Frodo is about to cast the One Ring into Mt Doom, Aragorn arriving at Minas Tirith with the help of the South wind … When things are going bad in my real life it seems they continue to get worse until I feel a change in luck. To myself I always say I look forward to the dawning of a new day and hoping “the wind has changed” in my favor. I took that from Tolkien.”

So, find this post on our Facebook Page and see if you can list the quotes about the Wind being associated with a change in luck or in mood; we may even take a few and add them to this post for future readers. Most of the quotes listed here come from The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, but feel free to draw from other sources, including Tolkien’s Letters.

To the Professor

Feel free to join TORn staffers and readers at one of our two Zoom Tolkien Toasts later on today. See our Tolkien Birthday Toast post for zoom times and links.

May the Professor’s words be a light to you in dark places!

Today we are taking a look at an actor with a previous connection to The Lord of the Rings; Peter Tait is not only working on Amazon’s series, but can boast having a role in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy as well – AND a connection to Sir Peter through a short film.

Peter Tait cast in Amazon Prime's The Lord of the Rings TV Series
Peter Tait
Continue reading “Amazon Casting: Peter Tait”

We’ve been digging through the Green Book archives a bit to find relevant articles discussing the ‘purity’ of Tolkien and his works. We came across this classic from Green Book author, Anwyn, where she addresses the questions that came out of watching the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. If you aren’t familiar with it…read on!

The Hobbits Accept ‘Best Movie’ at the 2003 MTV Movie Awards

I admit it. I’m at a loss for a stunning literary topic, one that will provoke your emotions, stimulate your mind, and offer some insight into Tolkien’s life or works. I sat down this evening with my brain half fried, knowing that I had a deadline to meet, and started flipping channels. Lo and behold, what did I pass but the MTV Movie Awards, and hark, who should be sitting behind Kirsten Dunst but the intrepid trio of Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, and Billy Boyd? Moreover, what award should they be announcing at that very moment but the award for “Best Movie?” I stayed to watch, having not bothered the first time they ran it.

I admit it. My finger is not on the pulse, as they say, of the pop-culture acclaim the Lord of the Rings movie phenomenon has generated and continues to stoke. I have not followed marketing trends; I couldn’t tell my father what TTT had grossed at the box office when he asked. I know, in a general way, that these films are wildly popular beyond the book’s fan base, that the movies have started their own fire that, due to the modern climate, burns higher than the literary one created when Tolkien was still living. What I don’t know is whether or not that’s a good thing. 

The intro was cute. Keanu Reeves was charming. And the winner is … The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Elijah, Billy and Sean, looking MTV cool in untucked, unbuttoned shirts, bounded up on stage, where Sean apologized for Gollum’s previous tirade. “That dude is out of control!” 

I admit it. I didn’t watch TORn’s clip of Gollum’s “acceptance speech.” I read a transcript and was horrified enough that I had no desire to watch it. Why? you ask. It was funny! you say. Perhaps. But the issue, in my mind, was not whether or not it was funny, but the fact that Tolkien is barrel-rolling in his grave at having one of his characters co-opted into speaking such filth. Puritan, you remark. Perhaps. “Purist” would be closer to the mark, I think. The hallmark of Tolkien’s work is the very purity of his language, and to find the most vile of modern insults coming out of the mouth of a digitally created Gollum disgusted me and, I think, would have appalled and disgusted Tolkien. 

The boyishly handsome trio accepted the award on behalf of the production and left the stage. I came to my computer wondering. This new popularity: good or bad? 

There is no need to speculate about what Tolkien himself would have thought. Though the popularity of his books, in his day, was smaller in scope and lesser in frantic, frenzied intensity than that we are observing now in response to the movies, he still had to fend off a wave of targeted questioning and obsession with minutiae, causing him to make remarks about his “deplorable cultus” and the dangers of becoming involved in the stories “in a way I’m not.” That tendency is more alive and well than ever today, thanks partly to the very wonderful establishment with which I am connected and others like it on the internet. “Fan fiction,” which I assume to have existed before the web but which certainly has suffered an unbelievable popularity explosion since, with access to an immediate and free forum, proves this in and of itself, as do the myriad questions we get at Green Books every day. 

My colleague Quickbeam and many others have come down to the baseline opinion that if it encourages people to read Tolkien, then the indignities that come with the Hollywood marketing machine are well endured. But arepeople reading Tolkien as a result of all this hype? The evidence that I see is mixed. 

Viggo reads ‘The Return of the King’

We get many letters at GB that include notes like “I am now reading the books to my [sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren], and they LOVE them. They would never have been interested in them before the movie.” That’s wonderful, and of course I couldn’t be anything but pleased. But we get a greater number of notes, questions for the Q&A, that clearly show that their authors have not read and have no desire to read—only to know more about the world that their current idols [insert Elijah, Orlando, Billy, Dominic, Sean, Sean, or Viggo here] inhabit in these films. “Who is Aragorn and where did he come from?” “Who are Legolas’s parents? Does he ever fall in love? Is it true that he dies in the third movie?” and my personal favorite, “Can you give me a complete history of Elrond? Who is he, where did he come from, who are his parents, what is his significance?” Don’t tell me that these folks have any intention of reading—this stuff could be readily found if they’d ever even cracked a book. 

So if people are not reading, what’s the fuss about? Special effects, swordplay, hot guys, and hot chicks, apparently. Again I hear that scraping, swishing sound … Tolkien is rolling

I am not intending any commentary here on Jackson’s films themselves. My opinions on that score are well documented elsewhere. My concern is with the ultramodern hype that has followed. 

I admit it. There’s not much reason to care whether or not the marketing machine runs at full efficiency and creates these millions of screaming Orli drones. After all, what does it hurt Tolkien’s books or my enjoyment of them? From one perspective, it doesn’t hurt one iota. From another perspective, it hurts to see characters that I regarded as the highest of the high, the pinnacle of heroic epic, degenerated into pop-culture icons. And it is not so with some of my other favorites. Anne of Green Gables, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility, and others have all been brought with sensitivity and grace to the big screen. And sensitivity and grace are not lacking in the majority of Jackson’s characterizations, either. So the difference must lie in the public reaction to them and to the supposedly clever accolades, like Gollum’s fling at the MTV awards, that follow. 

Forgive me, dear readers, if I am indulging in a ramble without a point. This musing is simply part of a bigger question—how healthy is all this fandom, anyway? “Frenzy and intensity,” I said above to describe the modern fanboy and fangirl machines, and it’s true. The nearness of people to one another through the media and internet allows them to mass-embrace one concept in a way they never could have done a century ago. Is this healthy for our individual and collective minds and spirits? The screaming, the shoving for a picture or an autograph … I digress. Those are issues connected with all popular Hollywooders, not with Lord of the Rings alone, of course. And I guess that’s the crux of the matter—something formerly so exalted in the realm of literature alone has been brought to a level equal to that of the Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears. I guess that’s where the real rub lies. Like the rub of a tweed jacket upon the inside of a coffin. Tolkien is rolling.

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.