The Tolkien Society regrets to record the death of long-time member Rikki Breem. She had been in ill-health for almost a year following a domestic accident, and passed away on Wednesday, 12th August last. She was 81.
Born Daphne Audrey Parnham, but known as “Rikki” (after the mongoose in Kipling’s Jungle Book), she was married to the distinguished law librarian and expert on Roman military history Wallace Wilfred Swinburne Breem, who predeceased her in March 1990. She was a Sub-Librarian at Inner Temple Library in London, where she met Wallace, who was her boss. After retiring from the Library she involved herself in archaeological societies including the Egypt Exploration Society, the Sudan Archaeological Research Society based at the British Museum and the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at UCL.
Having been a devotee of Tolkien for several years, Rikki joined the Tolkien Society in May 1977, and was a regular attendee at Northfarthing Innmoots and Smial meetings. She also hosted many Smial meetings from 1979 to 1997 usually filling the February slot, at her flat in St John’s Wood, which was filled with books on history and archaeology, as well as historical novels. But she also participated in the running of the Tolkien Society, memorably serving as the Society’s Treasurer from 1978 to 1993. She was instrumental in putting the Society on a firm financial footing, with her insistence on the necessity of maintaining a cushion of £2000 in the bank against adverse circumstances.
Rikki was a devoted Wagnerite, she travelled widely, especially to sites of archaeological interest, she was a pen-friend of Mary Renault, another author she greatly admired, was a cat-lover – and was a holder of firm opinions. She was a presence that will be much missed.
It would be remiss not to end this notice without an acknowledgement of the devoted support given to her in her final years by Annie Haward and Martin Smith.
Charles E. Noad and Jessica Yates
The funeral of Rikki Breem will be held at the West London Crematorium Kensal Green, Harrow Road, London, at 3pm on Tuesday 8 September. If desired, flowers or donations to the Burmese Cat Club Benevolent Fund should be sent to Ronald Sherry, 25 Bell Street, Edgeware Road, London, NW1 5BY, 020 7723 0425. If you are hoping to attend, please could you let Martin or Annie know on 01865 331294 or martin [at] kerma [dot] co [dot] uk so that we have an estimate of numbers for the after-funeral drink and nibbles to be held at the William IV opposite the cemetery.
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.