Anne C. Petty, a notable J.R.R. Tolkien scholar, writer, editor, publisher and friend died from cancer on July 21. Petty lived in Florida and is survived by her daughter. She is perhaps best known for her book “One Ring to Bind Them: Tolkien’s Mythology,” but those who knew her will remember her best for her fun and down-to-earth nature.
TheOneRing.net had the honor of calling her friend via several of our staffers. She was invited to and spoke at our own One Ring Celebration (ORC) and was a frequent Tolkien guest at Dragon Con in Atlanta where we had the pleasure of knowing her on a more personal level. Although she was a scholar with all the academic credentials (Ph.D. in English, Florida State University) she never thought any other Tolkien fan or their opinion or feelings were any less important than her own.
Anne loved anime and she showed up at Dragon Con’s annual Middle-earth party night in her head-to-toe fox costume, making a point to greet those of us who knew her, despite our inability to recognize her at all. She would alert us to her costume the following day if we didn’t catch on at the event. She also had a taste for the darker parts of entertainment, a characteristic she wasn’t afraid to share.
Petty delivered interesting Tolkien themed lectures frequently at DragonCon and was always willing to listen to audience questions and responses. She wrote “Tolkien in the Land of Heroes: Discovering the Human Spirit,” and “Dragons of Fantasy: Scaly Villains & Heroes of Modern Fantasy Literature,” that included a section on Tolkien’s dragons that TORn favorably reviewed.
After repeated exposure to Anne at Dragon Con and other conventions, she evolved into a personal friend of several of our staffers including our own Balin/Greg, who also died of cancer and for whom we always buy a drink at the annual celebration of popular culture. I had the chance to know Anne on a deeper level and even met and chatted with her daughter who visited the convention one year. I wrote the following about her in 2005 as part of the summary of the whole Tolkien part of the convention:
Dr. Anne “Just Anne” Petty was also part of the Tolkien track and was kind enough to join a group of us for dinner at the Hard Rock Café after the convention was winding down. I admit I was a bit chagrined that we were taking somebody I considered of grandmother age and who deserved respect as a genuine Tolkien scholar to such an undignified and loud joint. A short time into the meal it was discovered she is a closet hard rock / heavy metal fan who has toured around with Yngwie Malmsteen http://www.yngwie.org/ and considers herself a surrogate grandmother to the Swedish guitar virtuoso. She is extremely fond of Danzig, System of a Down, Ramstien and a gaggle of other just-as-unlikely bands. I joked that she probably knew Norweigen death-metal bands and she proceeded to name one that she likes. Consider her officially outed and look for her name in the “thank yous” on the Malmsteen disc. Those present urged her to use “Metal Mamma” as her TORn board and chat room handle.
In successive years we shared more con-meals and our mutual love for Tolkien and the most unlikely of music made us comfortable friends. It is with some shame that I can’t claim to have kept in better touch and I didn’t realize her time was so limited. She last updated her personal blog on May 22 with a headline of “Staying Alive,” and I am confident the irony of that would tickle her now.
While we have lost our friend, the whole of the Tolkien community has lost one its voices and much more importantly one of its spectacular people. We at TheOneRing.net wish her family and friends peace.