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2018: a great year for the Tolkien Society

The Tolkien Society has been in existence for nearly 50 years, with our objective to educate the public in, and promote research into, the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. We are at the forefront of the Tolkien community, leading the way in championing Tolkien as an author of international and historic significance.

Everything we do is with that in mind, and as trustees our job is to ensure sustainability of the Society in achieving its aims and objective, and to keep pushing the Society in new ways of reaching new audiences and achieving its aims. Key to this is our members: being advocates for the Society in their communities, supporters of our work, and a source of volunteers to deliver on our projects.

As an entirely voluntary organisation, it is only thanks to our members that everything we do actually happens; and here are some of the things that we all are working on…

Membership

Not long after I became chair, membership of the Society fell to a low of 666 (a number impressively easy to remember) and I was determined to see us realise a new website in order to achieve more members. 2018 was a fantastic year and our year-end figure was 1,720 members, up from 1,415 the year before. You can join the Society, too by becoming a member.

New Tolkien Bursary

A key strand of delivering on our aims and objective is our new Bursary which will fund emerging scholars to present their research at our events, giving them the opportunity and experience of presenting their work to a more specialist audience, and giving us the exposure of access to new scholarship and ideas. We currently have around £3,000 in the fund and we will be launching the scheme in the next couple of months; you can expect to see details about this shortly.

Top quality Tolkien scholarship

The latest issue of Mallorn is a bumper special thanks to the excellent work of Ro Haddon and Mike Afford in producing the journal, and of course we continue to publish Amon Hen throughout the year with the latest thoughts, ideas and news in the Tolkien community; both of these are exclusively available to members. In 2018 we also put the back catalogue of Tolkien Society publications online, going back to the 1970s, which are available exclusively to members via the Members’ Area.

On top of that, in 2018 we published the Peter Roe book Poetry and Song in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and this year expect to publish two further Peter Roe books including a revised edition of Sindarin Lexicon.

Tolkien to the World

Tolkien to the World is our project to send editions of Tolkien’s works to schools and libraries in developing countries. With nearly £9,000 in the fund we are ready to go. Throughout this year we are going to be sending books around the world, and if you want to donate you can so via our donate page.

Strengthening events

Last year’s Oxonmoot, with 270 attendees, was one of the largest we’ve ever held, and shows how popular our events have now become. This year, we will be hosting two Reading Day events – one in Exeter and one in Newcastle – to promote Tolkien throughout the UK and world.

Pembroke Memorial

Work has been slower than anticipated, but this permanent memorial to Tolkien at Pembroke College, Oxford – only made possible from donations from Tolkien Society members – will be installed and unveiled later this year. We hope to host an event to celebrate this, to which members will be invited to attend.

Celebrating our 50th anniversary

And finally, of course, we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary at Tolkien 2019 in Birmingham from 7th to 11th August 2019. We’ve had around 400 bookings so far, and are expecting in excess of 500, and guests include Dimitra Fimi, John Garth, Wayne G. Hammond, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith, Christina Scull, Tom Shippey, Brian Sibley; the event features an orchestral performance, a production of Leaf by Niggle, and a ceilidh all alongside a comprehensive list of panels and speakers (to be released next month). We will also be showcasing a selection of items from our Archive as part of a display on the history of the Society. To find out more, and book, visit the Tolkien 2019 website.


2018 was an exciting year with the publication of The Fall of Gondolin and the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian Library. As you can see, as we go from 2018 to 2019 this is also an exciting time for the Society, as we continue to deliver on our charitable aims and objective and, with the support of our members, promote Tolkien throughout the UK and the world.

About the Author: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the 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.