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100 years of Middle-earth

Today marks 100 years since Middle-earth first came into being. On 24 September 1914, Tolkien wrote the poem ‘The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star’. It was, as Christopher Tolkien described it, “the first of the mythology”.

This video features highlights from John Garth’s talk at Oxonmoot 2014, in which he talks about the poem and the centenary of Middle-earth. The talk was derived from his forthcoming Tolkien Studies 11 paper, ‘The road from adaptation to invention: How Tolkien came to the brink of Middle-earth in 1914’.

Éarendel sprang up from the Ocean’s cup
In the gloom of the mid-world’s rim;
From the door of Night as a ray of light
Leapt over the twilight brim,
And launching his bark like a silver spark
From the golden-fading sand;
Down the sunlit breath of Day’s fiery Death
He sped from Westerland.

The poem is about Éarendel the mariner who most readers meet in Bilbo’s ‘Song of Eärendil’ in The Lord of the Rings or towards the end of ‘Quenta Silmarillion’ in The Silmarillion (1977). It was written by the 22-year-old Tolkien at Phoenix Farm (his aunt Jane Neave’s house) in Gedling, Nottinghamshire.

Part of the original version can be found in Tolkien and the Great War, p. 45, while a later (and fuller) version is in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, pp. 268-9.

To learn more, in addition to watching the above video, John Garth has written a blog post on the poem and its significance. We also spoke to John about the centenary in the interview we posted last week.

About the Author: Daniel Helen
Daniel is an Officer without Portfolio and Trustee of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2014, he is mainly responsible for the Society's digital operations, including this website.