October? Yep.

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!

Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, inspirational to Tolkien’s concept of a Morgothian temple. Courtesy of Smithsonian. Photo by Kieran Dodds.

Bravo gentlemen! And thank you, Smithsonian.

Milwaukee magazine has a great little background story on how an enormous cache of J.R.R. Tolkien’s personal notes and papers ended up at Marquette University in Wisconsin.

It started with Marquette’s Library Director William Ready (1914-81), who actively sought out Catholic authors. Ready approached Tolkien through an intermediary in 1956 and negotiated the purchase of his manuscripts for The Hobbit and the three volumes of his magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings (as well as lesser-known works), just a year after the last of those books were published. 

“Ready was in the right place at the right time and had the good sense to pursue those manuscripts,” says William Fliss, an archivist in the department of special collections at Marquette

It’s timely because Marquette tomorrow (August 19) opens a new brand-new exhibit titled “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” at the Haggerty Museum of Art.

The exhibit will feature original manuscripts created by J.R.R. Tolkien for his The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and other works. It will consider Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, in terms of both the materials that he studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts that he created while developing his legendarium.

The museum will also be hosting three seminars by prominent Tolkien scholars. are free to attend. In-person tickets are already all sold. However, the presentations will also be streamed for audiences who wish to attend virtually (great for people not in the USA!).

You can reserve a place to attend the lectures here.

Special Note: even if you only want to attend virtually, you must still pre-register your interest through the Eventbrite.

Watch a walkthrough of the exhibit courtesy of Die Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft e.V.

Can’t make it to Milwaukee? Me neither. Watch this 30-minute walkthrough that Die Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft e.V. has put together. It’s great!

The speical lecture schedule

Thursday, Sept. 22, 5 p.m.: “Editing the Tolkienian Manuscript,” presented by Carl Hostetter

Carl Hostetter is a computer scientist at NASA who has earned a reputation as one of the leading experts on J.R.R. Tolkien’s invented languages. He is a key member of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, an elite group of four Tolkien scholars whom the Tolkien Estate has entrusted with special access to the author’s unpublished linguistic manuscripts. These linguists have published extensively on Tolkien’s invented languages, including in “Vinyar Tengwar,” a peer-reviewed journal that Hostetter edits.

Hostetter is one of the most experienced students of Tolkien’s manuscripts. His ability to read and interpret Tolkien’s notoriously difficult handwriting is second to none. Christopher Tolkien (1924-2020) entrusted Hostetter with editing his father’s last volume of published writings, released in 2021 under the title, “The Nature of Middle-earth.” Hostetter’s work is highly regarded by Tolkien scholars. His volume “Tolkien’s Legendarium”—co-edited with Verlyn Flieger—is considered one of the best collections of essays on the history of Tolkien’s secondary world.

Thursday, Oct. 13, 5 p.m.: “Tolkien’s Faith and the Foundations of Middle-earth,” presented by Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway is a rising star among Tolkien scholars. Her 2021 book “Tolkien’s Modern Reading” is a tour de force destined to become a classic in Tolkien studies. Ordway demonstrated that Tolkien, usually pigeonholed as a medievalist, was remarkably well read in modern literature.

Her work shows how many modern works affected Tolkien’s creative output. Currently on faculty at Houston Baptist University, Ordway has taught English at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and MiraCosta College. She specializes in J.R.R. Tolkien and, more generally, in mythopoeic literature. Ordway’s current research project is a book-length treatment of Tolkien’s Catholicism, fitting for a Catholic, Jesuit university such as Marquette.

Thursday, Nov. 17, 5 p.m.: “Whispering Leaves: How Tolkien’s Manuscripts Reveal the Secrets of His Creativity,” presented by John Garth

Trained as a journalist, John Garth has gained an international reputation as a leading writer about J.R.R. Tolkien and a popular commentator on Tolkien’s works and life. His published works include the recent “The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien” (2020). His earlier masterpiece, “Tolkien and the Great War” (2003), is universally acknowledged as a classic in the field of Tolkien Studies.

Garth, who has made a special study of Tolkien’s manuscripts, will focus his lecture on a manuscript that is part of Marquette’s collection and has never previously been exhibited or published. He will demonstrate his renowned historical research skills by analyzing the manuscript and using it to tease out insights about Tolkien’s experiences during the Second World War.

Tickets for the “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” exhibition are on sale now. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for senior citizen and active military (with I.D.). Friends of the Haggerty Museum of Art members, K-12 educators, children aged 17 and under, and Marquette University students, faculty members, and staff members are free with advance reservations and a valid I.D. The exhibition will be open until 8 p.m. on the night of each lecture.

About the Haggerty Museum of Art

The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University is an innovative nexus of interdisciplinary learning where creativity, intellect and social justice intersect. Located in the heart of the Near West Side, adjacent to downtown Milwaukee, and open daily, the museum is one of the most accessible arts venues in the city.

“The Short Lay of Earendel, Earendillínwë,” Version K, ca. 1949–1953
“The Short Lay of Earendel, Earendillínwë,” Version K, ca. 1949–1953. Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University. Credit: © The Tolkien Estate Limited 2022.

For those within easy travelling distance of Bradford in the UK, this weekend is going to be a good one! Bradford Literature Festival is happening; and there are several talks related to JRR Tolkien.

Tolkien taught at Leeds University from 1920 to 1925, before his teaching career at Oxford began. It was during his years at Leeds that he wrote A Middle English Vocabulary and his definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (with E. V. Gordon). Like many other areas of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’, there are stunning landscapes across West Yorkshire which lay claim to be (at least partly) inspiration for the Shire.

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June, Tolkien Archivist Catherine McIlwaine, author and scholar John Garth, and others will participate in various presentations, exploring Tolkien’s work:

What was Tolkien’s intended ending for The Lord of the Rings? What was the audience’s response to the first ever adaptation of The Lord of the Rings – a radio dramatisation that has now been deleted forever from the BBC’s archives? The University of Oxford’s Grace Khuri will be joined by Tolkien Archivist Catherine McIlwaine and biographer John Garth to explore J.R.R. Tolkien’s mammoth legacy and his son’s tireless work in sharing it with the world.

Catherine McIlwaine, John Garth, Grace Khuri: Tolkien: The Great Tales Never End (Saturday 25th June at 10.30am). More information and tickets available here

From Norse mythology and Christian faith to his fellow fantasy writers and the very real battlegrounds of World War I, join us as we explore the varied and unlikely inspirations that shaped J.R.R. Tolkien’s much-loved fantasy worlds – including Catherine J. Blatt, John Garth, and Alaric Hall.

Catherine Batt, Alaric Hall and John Garth: Where Did Tolkien Find His Inspiration? (Saturday 25th June at 11.45am). More information and tickets available here

Author of The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, John Garth will take audience on a journey through the places that inspired the Shire, Rivendell, Helms Deep and Mordor and will discuss how the West Midlands and Oxford, alongside Yorkshire, played their part in the creations.

John Garth on The Worlds of JRR Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-Earth (Sunday 26th June at 11.45am). More information and tickets available here

Tolkien has inspired many writers across all genres to follow in his footsteps. Samantha Shannon, Courttia Newland and David Barnett will discuss Tolkien’s vast impact within literature, and how his writing has influenced them personally as writers.

Samantha Shannon, Courttia Newland and David Barnett: Inspired By Tolkien (Sunday 26th June at 4pm). More information and tickets available here

Let us know if you’re fortunate enough to attend!

The Haggerty Museum of Art and Raynor Memorial Libraries at Marquette University will be presenting a a lecture series in September in conjunction with the collaborative exhibition “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript.

The exhibition — which opens on August 19 — will feature original manuscripts created by J.R.R. Tolkien for his The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and other works. It will consider Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, in terms of both the materials that he studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts that he created while developing his legendarium.

All lectures will be held at the Haggerty Museum of Art and are free to attend. They will also be streamed online for audiences who wish to attend virtually (great for people not in the USA!). The museum states that — due to limited capacity — reservations are required. You can reserve a place to attend the lectures here.

Thursday, Sept. 22, 5 p.m.: “Editing the Tolkienian Manuscript,” presented by Carl Hostetter

Carl Hostetter is a computer scientist at NASA who has earned a reputation as one of the leading experts on J.R.R. Tolkien’s invented languages. He is a key member of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, an elite group of four Tolkien scholars whom the Tolkien Estate has entrusted with special access to the author’s unpublished linguistic manuscripts. These linguists have published extensively on Tolkien’s invented languages, including in “Vinyar Tengwar,” a peer-reviewed journal that Hostetter edits.

Hostetter is one of the most experienced students of Tolkien’s manuscripts. His ability to read and interpret Tolkien’s notoriously difficult handwriting is second to none. Christopher Tolkien (1924-2020) entrusted Hostetter with editing his father’s last volume of published writings, released in 2021 under the title, “The Nature of Middle-earth.” Hostetter’s work is highly regarded by Tolkien scholars. His volume “Tolkien’s Legendarium”—co-edited with Verlyn Flieger—is considered one of the best collections of essays on the history of Tolkien’s secondary world.

Thursday, Oct. 13, 5 p.m.: “Tolkien’s Faith and the Foundations of Middle-earth,” presented by Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway is a rising star among Tolkien scholars. Her 2021 book “Tolkien’s Modern Reading” is a tour de force destined to become a classic in Tolkien studies. Ordway demonstrated that Tolkien, usually pigeonholed as a medievalist, was remarkably well read in modern literature.

Her work shows how many modern works affected Tolkien’s creative output. Currently on faculty at Houston Baptist University, Ordway has taught English at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and MiraCosta College. She specializes in J.R.R. Tolkien and, more generally, in mythopoeic literature. Ordway’s current research project is a book-length treatment of Tolkien’s Catholicism, fitting for a Catholic, Jesuit university such as Marquette.

Thursday, Nov. 17, 5 p.m.: “Whispering Leaves: How Tolkien’s Manuscripts Reveal the Secrets of His Creativity,” presented by John Garth

Trained as a journalist, John Garth has gained an international reputation as a leading writer about J.R.R. Tolkien and a popular commentator on Tolkien’s works and life. His published works include the recent “The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien” (2020). His earlier masterpiece, “Tolkien and the Great War” (2003), is universally acknowledged as a classic in the field of Tolkien Studies.

Garth, who has made a special study of Tolkien’s manuscripts, will focus his lecture on a manuscript that is part of Marquette’s collection and has never previously been exhibited or published. He will demonstrate his renowned historical research skills by analyzing the manuscript and using it to tease out insights about Tolkien’s experiences during the Second World War.

Tickets for the “J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript” exhibition are on sale now. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for senior citizen and active military (with I.D.). Friends of the Haggerty Museum of Art members, K-12 educators, children aged 17 and under, and Marquette University students, faculty members, and staff members are free with advance reservations and a valid I.D. The exhibition will be open until 8 p.m. on the night of each lecture.

About the Haggerty Museum of Art

The Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University is an innovative nexus of interdisciplinary learning where creativity, intellect and social justice intersect. Located in the heart of the Near West Side, adjacent to downtown Milwaukee, and open daily, the museum is one of the most accessible arts venues in the city.

“The Short Lay of Earendel, Earendillínwë,” Version K, ca. 1949–1953
“The Short Lay of Earendel, Earendillínwë,” Version K, ca. 1949–1953. Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University. Credit: © The Tolkien Estate Limited 2022.

BBC has enlisted noted Tolkien scholar John Garth for this Middle-earth quiz that may actually stretch your knowledge of The Lord of the Rings.

Garth is best-known for his award-winning book Tolkien and the Great War as well as The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth.

There’s no “what is the name of Frodo’s sword?” questions in this quiz. Instead, he’s set 15 tricky questions that will test your ability to recall some fine details about Tolkien’s novel.

Test your LOTR knowledge over at the BBC.

Thanks to Pontin on our Discord for the link.

This just in from our friends at the Tolkien Society regarding Oxonmoot 2018: 

300 Tolkien fans from around the world are meeting in Oxford this weekend to celebrate the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The event, taking place at St Antony’s College, Oxford from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd September, has sold out due to the increasing popularity of Tolkien’s works. The event follows last month’s publication of The Fall of Gondolin and coincides with the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian Library.

The event itself will include talks from leading Tolkien scholar – including writer John Garth – quizzes, workshops, an art exhibition, a masquerade, a Hobbit bake-off, a party and a visit to the exhibition at the Bodleian Library. The weekend concludes, as always, with Enyalie, a ceremony of remembrance at Tolkien’s grave in Wolvercote Cemetery on Sunday morning. With attendees from 25 different countries, this year’s Oxonmoot takes place following the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, The Fall of Gondolin, proving the continuing popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien as author relevant in the 21st Century. Tolkien’s best-known work was The Lord of the Rings, which has been translated into over 50 languages and estimates put sales at over 150 million copies worldwide.

Founded in 1969 by Vera Chapman, The Tolkien Society is an educational charity and literary society with the aim of promoting the life and works with J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien himself supported the organisation and gave it his seal of approval by agreeing to become The Tolkien Society’s President. On Tolkien’s death the family recommended he stay as President, so, to this day, he remains The Tolkien Society’s Honorary President in perpetuo. The Society has over a 1,600 members and hosts events up and down the country every week.

Shaun Gunner, Chair of The Tolkien Society, said: “This is the largest ever Oxonmoot, and this is testament to the growing popularity of Tolkien and his works, and ever-increasing numbers shows that people want to share their passion for Tolkien with others. Oxonmoot has been going for over 40 years and provides an excellent opportunity for hundreds of fans from around the world to come together for a weekend of fun and fellowship in Oxford, a location so important to Tolkien.” He added, “Oxonmoot always takes place in September to coincide with the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo, but this year we have a record number of attendees coming to St Antony’s College to enjoy the longest-running Tolkien event in the world.

Although Oxenmoot 2018 is sold out, if any of our readers are lucky enough to be going, we’d love to get a report on how the weekend went! You can send it to spymaster@theonering.net.