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.
129 years ago today, in Bloemfontein Africa, a very special person came into the world: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. Forty-five years later, in 1937, his book The Hobbit, was published which he had written for his children. Together with its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, it launched generations of readers on adventures through the invented world of Middle-earth; adventure that would impact many of us for the rest of our lives.
One of the greatest ways Tolkien has impacted many of our lives is through the friendships we’ve made from having read Tolkien’s books and/or watched Peter Jackson’s movies of the same. Tolkien himself made lifelong friendships as a result of his writing endeavors, sharing many a pint critiquing yet-unfinished works at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford with friends C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and others. Today, countless discussion forums, websites, and clubs carry on the tradition of those discussions, sharing ideas about Tolkien and his writings with like-minded fans and, yes, dear friends.
Today, TORn celebrates life of J.R.R. Tolkien and the inspiration and friendships he has given us. To express our thanks, we’re continuing our theme of the day of Tolkien quotes, this time with quotes having to do with friendship from The Lord of the Rings:
“I name you Elf-friend, and may the stars shine upon the end of your road”
– Gildor to Frodo (The Fellowship of the Ring: Three is Company)
“You can trust us to stick to you, through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.”
– Merry to Frodo (The Fellowship of the Ring:A Conspiracy Unmasked)
“Though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador and Hurin, and Turin, and Beren himself were assembled together your seat should be among them.”
– Elrond to Frodo (The Fellowship of the Ring:The Council of Elrond)
“You will meet many foes, some open, and some disguised; and you may find friends along your way when you least look for it.”
– Elrond to the Fellowship (The Fellowship of the Ring:The Ring Goes South)
“Twice blessed is help unlooked for, and never was a meeting of friends so joyful.
– Eomer to Aragorn (The Return of the King:The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)
“I wish we could have a Stone that we could see all our friends in and that we could speak to them from far away.”