The Tolkien Society’s Chair, Shaun Gunner, has today announced that the Society has more members now than at any point in the Society’s history.
The Society was founded in 1969 and today has more members than ever before due to consistent growth over the last three years. In recent years, The Tolkien Society has experienced a rapid expansion in its membership as people from across the world recognise the value of the Society and believe in its mission to promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Shaun Gunner said: “This is proof of all the hard work of the Society and its members. People see a thriving organisation that they want to join, and whose mission they passionately support.”
As of the 25th January 2017, the Tolkien Society has 1,287 individual members, rising to 1,319 when including libraries and other bodies. The previous highest total was on 31st December 2003 following the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when the Society had 1,225 individual members, rising to 1,278 with libraries etc.
“People are joining us because they like what they see. Not only do they believe in Tolkien, but they believe in us as an organisation. They believe in our mission and our ability to achieve it. But, more importantly, they also believe in each and every one of our trustees and volunteers and their capability to propel the Society forwards.“
Previously, membership in the Society spiked following the release of The Silmarillion in 1977, the BBC radio series of The Lord of the Rings in 1981, the Tolkien Centenary in 1992, and The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in 2001-3. The long-term average for Society membership was between 500 and 650 members. The recent increases comes at a time when there are no new films and there have been no publications of new works of Tolkien fiction relating to Middle-earth; in the last three years The Tolkien Society has seen a 91% increase in its membership from a low of 666 members on 1st April 2014.
Commenting on the news, Shaun Gunner, “It is a matter of huge personal pride to me to be Chair of The Tolkien Society. What gives me pride is having a team who are intensely dedicated to pushing the Society forward, and proof of that is that hundreds and hundreds of people around the world are joining us every year. We are bucking the trend of declining memberships in civic organisations and literary societies because our supporters want to help us continue our successful work.”
Shaun is the current Chair of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2013, Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien’s works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time can be found in the cinema, playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.