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Professor Tolkien, until the end of the 20th century, was not recognized (or even known) as a great writer in Brazil. His works were generally read by people who had a good routine of reading and among youngsters who used to play RPG.

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Professor J.R.R. Tolkien by Fred A. Farrell
Professor J.R.R. Tolkien by Fred A. Farrell

In The Advocate of 9 August 1934 a head and shoulder portrait of an academic (right) was published with the accompanying text: “Professor John Tolkien has been Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in Oxford University since 1925.  He served with the Lancashire Fusiliers from 1915-18.  Born of a South African family in 1892, he was educated at the King Edward VI. School, Birmingham, and Exeter College, Oxford.  He was Professor of English Language in Leeds University in 1924-5.”  This sketch does not appear to have been published for over seventy years until it resurfaced earlier this week.  The use of John rather than Ronald suggests that Tolkien was probably not actually consulted about the text.

‘New’ drawings of Tolkien are not unearthed every day, especially from the period before the publication of The Hobbit in 1937, so this image of the author dating from 1934 is particularly interesting.  What was Tolkien doing in 1934?  He had probably fairly recently completed the first version of The Hobbit.  He was a busy academic, lecturing and teaching on a daily basis, and was also working on several academic publishing projects.  The poems ‘The Adventures of Tom Bombadil’ and ‘Looney’ had also been published for the first time earlier that year.  It is interesting that although he had not published any fiction at this point, he was considered of sufficient international significance as a Catholic to be featured in an antipodean religious publication.

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There are no hieroglyphs or bas-reliefs in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.  That’s a curious omission from a pseudo-historical narrative of the ancient world, don’t you think?  And when it comes to statues the Elves do trees and the Gondorians do kings, but how many real examples of statues can you find in The Lord of the Rings?  Nonetheless, there is little to no evidence of actual writing carved in stone.  I can think of Balin’s tombstone, but everything else is just an ambiguously “carven pillar”. (more…)

The Tolkien Society Seminar 2015, held in July 2015 at Leeds, was a huge success. If you missed it, you’ll find four videos from the event below.

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Introduction

In one of his many letters, J.R.R. Tolkien expressly wrote “I have never been able to enjoy Pickwick…” (Tolkien, 1990, p. 349). He was, of course, referring to the main character who gave his name to one of Charles Dickens’ most famous works: The Pickwick
Papers.
Uninteresting as it may have been to him, it is clear that particular aspects from the book have somehow found a way into Tolkien’s own method of writing: often incorporating similar dialogue styles and character qualities; not to mention particular moments that elicit the same emotional resonance within its readers. (more…)

Map showing the route (top left) from Thirtle Bridge to Edith's lodgings in Withernsea - to the bottom right of the lighthouse
Map showing the route (top left) from Thirtle Bridge to Edith’s lodgings in Withernsea – to the bottom right of the lighthouse

I am aware that my latest blog post may be a little controversial, but before anyone rushes to condemn it out-of-hand, please either obtain an OS Explorer map of East Yorkshire (292), or use the StreetMap I’ve included on this blog.  From this you should be able to see that what is now the B1242 heads from Thirtle Bridge in the top left hand corner of the map south-east down towards Withernsea.  Edith’s lodgings are in the bottom right-hand corner of the map.  The proximity of the massive white structure of Withernsea Lighthouse to Edith’s lodgings is evident on the map.

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