Two handwritten letters, from J.R.R. Tolkien to the British Council, have been uncovered by a volunteer at the National Archives in Kew.
In a recently published blog, we are told: ‘The correspondence centres on Tolkien’s research collaboration with Simonne d’Ardenne, a former student of his at Oxford, who shared his academic interest in historical languages.’
It’s always exciting to uncover new items related to the Professor – and especially to see that familiar and unique handwriting. The letters will remain at the National Archives, added to the previously catalogued Tolkien correspondence in their collection. You can read more about this unearthed treasure here.
Smith, killed by shrapnel near the end of WWI’s Battle of the Somme, was one of Tolkien’s closest friends from late childhood.
As an alumnus of Corpus Christi College, poet Smith may be best known for his work “A Spring Harvest,” and is a recognized influence in Tolkien’s life and writings. Tolkien and Smith were friends from King Edward’s School days and part of the tight-knit Tea Club and Barrovian Society.
Corpus Christi hosts this two-day series in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Professor’s passing, organized by Doug Anderson, Oronzo Cilli, and Beppe Pezzini. Confirmed speakers include John Garth, Grace Khuri, Mark Atherton, and many more.
Click here for lecture topics and further details, and here for more related reading (from 2016!) over at The Tolkien Society, including a link to “Tolkien’s Great War,” a halfling-sized documentary film published by King Edward’s School, Birmingham.
Those of you fortunate enough to get your “sticky paws” on the October issue of Smithsonian are in for a HUGE treat. John Garth, acclaimed author of The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth, Tolkien and the Great War, and others, has penned (pixelled?) a phenomenal read for the complete Tolkien newbie as well as the Tolkien-lifers of the world.
Garth’s exposition provides the reader an important contextualization to better understand and appreciate Tolkien’s writing, and more specifically, the stories behind Prime Video’s Rings of Power. Part abbreviated biography, part history of Tolkien’s writing and publication journeys, and part Númenorian exposé, this essay covers a vast amount of ground with precision, passion, and poignant prose.
The author fused his inspirations into an alloy that he could shape freely. He also generated multiple stories from a single inspiration. What he called his “feigned history” lives on its own terms.
John Garth, Smithsonian
Coupled with Garth’s authorship are Kieran Dodd’s inspiringly rich photos. Dodd’s talents underscore and punctuate Garth’s narrative with stunning images of architecture and locations frequented by Tolkien. And yes! For those of us not fortunate to get our handses on this publication, the article is also available right here. Enjoy your read!
Priscilla Tolkien, the youngest of J.R.R. Tolkien’s four children, died on February 28 2022. She was 92 years old.
Born June 18 1929, Priscilla was the only daughter of the Professor and his wife Edith. They were already living in Oxford when she was born. At the age of fourteen, Priscilla typed up some of the early chapters of The Lord of the Rings for her father. She studied English at Lady Margaret Hall college in Oxford, who yesterday announced her passing.
Priscilla, like her older brother Christopher, was a champion of her father’s work. She was Vice-President of the Tolkien Society, and together with the oldest of the four children, her brother John, she published in 1992 The Tolkien Family Album. Frodo’s name in early drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Bingo Bolger-Baggins, apparently came from her names for a family of toy bears she had as a child.
As we wait – eagerly or anxiously – for new Middle-earth content in the form of Amazon’s upcoming Rings of Power tv show, we can pass some of the time with new content direct from the Professor himself. On February 26th the Tolkien Estate relaunched their website, releasing previously unseen material from their archives.
The exciting new reveals include draft manuscripts, letters, and even audio and video clips of Tolkien and his son, Christopher. You can read more about this release here; and you can find the Tolkien Estate website here.
In the first part of this interview we met Julia Golding, founder of Project Northmoor and the Oxford Centre for Fantasy. Here we find out more about the Centre and the teachings of J.R.R. Tolkien. Don’t miss a first look at Julia’s video tour of the barrow of Wayland’s Smithy, which may have been one of the inspirations for the Barrow Downs east of the Shire in The Lord of the Rings. She also takes us to the famous White Horse Hill. (Link at end of article.)
Mithril: I recently completed the first class offered by the Oxford Centre for Fantasy. Along with truly fun and productive lectures and assignments, the course had some fantastic tutors and guest speakers, and I am now part of a community of writers inspired by Tolkien. We even have an online Inklings group the Centre created for us. Was it always your intent to grow the experience into a community? How do you see it evolving?
Julia: I wish I could claim I had a master plan, but actually it has been more an organic growing experience. Our headline thought was this project is about encouraging the next generation of fantasy creatives, using Oxford and the Inklings as examples to inspire us. The idea to create a space for a community of writers came from reading Diana Pavlac Glyer’s book on the Inklings, Bandersnatch. Diana was one of our guest speakers. Her book unpacks how the Inklings supported each other as writers, and also why it eventually folded as a group. I thought after reading this that it would be natural to see if our first students wanted to stay together to continue their journey, using the Inklings example. They clearly can’t meet every week at Magdalen in C.S. Lewis’s rooms as Tolkien and friends did, but they can meet together in their online group. Once the space was set up, I stepped back to let the students become their own thing.