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Why you should join the Tolkien Society

It sometimes comes as a surprise to people online that the Tolkien Society isn’t just a Twitter account and a Facebook group, but a real charity you can join and support just like the National Trust or the Boy Scouts.

The Tolkien Society has well over 1,000 members in over 30 different countries, many of whom play a full and active role in the Society. So, as the world comes together to celebrate Hobbit Day, here are some of the reasons why you should join the Tolkien Society today.

Promoting Tolkien across the world

Do you want to see J.R.R. Tolkien’s memory protected and his works spread across the world? The Society was founded in 1969 with Tolkien later becoming our president (and remaining so to this day), which is why our legally-binding constitution states that the sole aim of the Society is to “educate the public in, and promote research into, the life and works of Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE.” For every person who supports the Society, we are able to do that little bit extra in promoting Tolkien; so join today to help us spread Tolkien around the world.

Joining a worldwide fellowship

The Tolkien Society is a tight-knit community who all share a passion for Tolkien. By joining that community you are likely to meet lots of new people and make many new friends (in your country and others). Members of the Society – myself included – will attest to the enduring bonds of fellowship that run through the Society, which even include people meeting their best friends as well as future partners!

Not only that, but aspiring scholars will get the chance to meet academics to discuss their works, whilst artists, writers, cooks, costumers, linguists and webmasters will likely meet collaborators who will be able to help them on their projects. There is a huge pool of friendly talent that you can be a part of.

Amon Hen

Amon Hen is our bimonthly bulletin which has been published continually since 1972. Each Amon Hen contains news, information about events, articles, features and book reviews; the only way to be guaranteed to receive Amon Hen is by being a member of the Society, which also gives you the opportunity to contribute to it.

Amon Hen has a long tradition and past contributors to Amon Hen include: Christopher Tolkien, Ted Nasmith, Tom Shippey, Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull, Roger Lancelyn Green, John D. Rateliff and Brian Sibley. Every member of the Society can download the current back-catalogue of Amon Hens via our Members’ Area, whilst postal members get it delivered to their door – a great treat every other month! Join today to get your first Amon Hen!

Tolkien to the World

In our 2013 questionnaire of members of the Society, Tolkien to the World was rated as one of the Society’s most important activities. But what is it? Tolkien to the World is our international outreach programme to spread J.R.R. Tolkien’s works around the world: in particular, we send copies of Tolkien’s core texts to schools and libraries in developing countries.

Already dozens of libraries in Tristan da Cunha, Trinidad and Tobago, the British Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos have received books. But demand far out-strips supply, so if you want to help us send more books – and give others the chance to experience the joy of Tolkien’s works – then please join the Society and/or make a donation.

Mallorn

Mallorn is our annual journal: a glossy A4 journal including in-depth reviews, scholarly articles and interviews. Having been first published since 1970 it is one of the most prestigious and longest-running journals in Tolkien scholarship. As such, over the years Mallorn has featured an impressive range of contributors including: Douglas A. Anderson, Bob Blackham, David Bratman, Dimitra Fimi, John Garth, Henry Gee, Wayne G. Hammond, John Rateliff, Christina Scull, Tom Shippey, Michael Tolkien, and Christopher Tolkien. As if that isn’t enough, several Mallorns have published poetry by Tolkien as well as copies of several letters.

One thing that separates Mallorn from other journals is its unique selection of artwork which make is a beautiful publication. Over the years Mallorn include: Pauline Baynes, Cor Blok, Jenny Dolfen, Anke Eissmann, Jay Johnstone, Octo Kwan, Ruth Lacon, Jef Murray and Ted Nasmith. And, as with Amon Hen, every member can download the back-catalogue via our Members’ Area. So, join now to get the next Mallorn, due out at Christmas.

Archives

The Tolkien Society’s Archives – housed at the Surrey History Centre – have a unique collection of Tolkien memorabilia. The archives include: over 500 books, in 30 languages, of Tolkien’s works, including some first editions; press cuttings and other ephemera; journals related to Tolkien; assorted collectibles; and the archives of the Society which include the very earliest recordings of Tolkien fandom. The archives also include letters and documents written on/by Tolkien and other members of the family.

Every member of the Society has the right to access the archives for free, whilst being a member of the Society helps support their continual improvement and expansion for future generations. A selection of the archives have been catalogued at eHive, but if you want to find out more contact Pat Reynolds, the Archivst. Please join today to help support our archives for future Tolkien fans and scholars.

Events and Smials

You have probably already heard about Oxonmoot – our annual long-weekend in an Oxford college – but this is certainly not the only event we hold. There’s the international celebrations of the Tolkien Birthday Toast in January and Tolkien Reading Day in March. We take hold a Seminar in July most years and have a Springmoot (combining our AGM) in March. We play an active role in other huge events such as the Middle Earth Festival and last year’s Worldcon in London.

But, don’t presume we are just for people in the UK. People set up local groups or “smials” all over the world to connect with other Tolkien fans in their areas (my smial, the South Downs, is based in Sussex, England and meets every month). We even have a smial on the other side of the world in New Zealand! For many people this is the lifeblood of their membership of the Society, and represents the core of their activity within the Society.


If you have any questions, just leave a comment below; otherwise why don’t you celebrate Hobbit Day – and Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday – by joining the Tolkien Society today. I joined 10 years, and I’ve never looked back.

About the Author: Shaun Gunner

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.


  • Ronald Kyrmse

    I never looked back over thirty years! Yes, it’s true and I can prove it.
    😉
    Cheers from Brasil!

  • Colly66

    I’ve had a great time within the TS, a place of friendly fellowship for people who like Tolkien’s work, made some great friends, and met my wife 😉

  • simonbrunning

    Can I give membership as a gift?

  • Mikhail Peppas

    Aaahhh myself and Sanabelle from Book & Design Fair Durban South Africa have joined the TS with much anticipation to meeting fellow members at Oxonmoot 2016. We will be accompanied by a few BunnyKat folk craft puppets from the Valley of 1000 Hills. Wisheroos Mikhail Peppas, visualvoicemikhail@gmail.com