Barbara Remington has died, at 90. Really old-time Tolkienists will remember her name as that of the artist who created the covers for the first issue of the Ballantine paperbacks of The Lord of the Rings, which may be seen pictured in her obituary here. (Note they’re all actually one painting split into three parts, which was also issued as a single poster without overprinting.)

Ballantine’s goal was to get the books in the shops quickly, to compete with the unauthorized Ace paperbacks, so they gave Remington very little time to work. She hadn’t then read the novel and had little opportunity to find out anything about it, consequently this surreal and impressionistic thing came into being.

Tolkien, unsurprisingly, hated it. He erupted in dismay at the sight, and to the publisher’s attempts at explanation commented, “I begin to feel that I am shut up in a madhouse.” (A quotation I found singularly apt to use as an epigraph when I came to write on Peter Jackson.)

But to those of us who were weaned on The Lord of the Rings in the early paperback years (this cover was used from the first paperbacks in 1965 until about 1973), we imprinted on this bizarre artwork the way a baby bird will imprint on a plastic doll in the absence of its mother. The transition from a peaceful if inexplicable Shire (emus? pink bulbs?) to the hellhole of a blasted Mordor with what look like tissue-paper monsters writhing in front does, at least, convey the point Bilbo made to Frodo about the world they live in:

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even further and to worse places?

A potentially misleading entry in the contents list for Tolkien Studies 16, for instance as displayed here [ed: since fixed in this location], has been brought to my attention.

In this display, the separated sub-entry for most of the article entries is the author of the article. Thus, Richard C. West is the author of this year’s “In Memoriam,” he is not the subject of it. The subject is the late scholar Jared C. Lobdell, who died in March of 2019. Richard West kindly supplied us a bio and appreciation. His authorship is not listed in the table of contents of our issue, but his byline does appear at the end of the obituary, so some enthusiastic analyzers of our issue (also breaking apart the book reviews section into individual contributions, which we also don’t do) may have added this. (I haven’t yet checked Project MUSE, our online distributor, to see if that’s where this comes from.)

David Bratman
co-editor, Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review

I’ve seen the new biographical movie about Tolkien twice, once at a preview back in March, for which public comment was embargoed, and again upon its release this week, to refresh my memory and not really for any other reason, because otherwise once was enough.

Now it’s out so I may speak, and this comes from my personal blog post on the topic. So I’ll tell you what I said at the preview. When the lights came up I turned to those seated near me and said, “If they’re going to make stuff up, why can’t they at least make a coherent and interesting story out of it?” Only I didn’t say “stuff.”


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. (more…)

Cabinet containing items relating to Roos and Beren and Luthien

A small Tolkien Exhibition has opened in the Hull History Centre and runs until 31 October 2018.  Phil Mathison, the author of Tolkien in East Yorkshire, has been trying to organise something on these lines for the last five years.  The current exhibition marks the centenary of Tolkien’s departure from the area after spending nearly 18 months here during 1917-1918.  he had returned from the Battle of the Somme after contacting Trench Fever in October 1916.

There are two colourful maps of Middle-earth on the walls in the centre, over a Beren and Lúthien cabinet.  This includes an illustrated Silmarillion, 3 photos of Roos, a large print Beren and Lúhien, and the 2018 calendar.

2 maps of Middle-earth surrounded by images relating to Thirtle Bridge Army Camp

One side cabinet focuses on Hornsea and Withernsea, and includes photos of: Margaret Strickland-Constable, 1 Bank Terrace (where Edith stayed), a detail from an OS map, and Hornsea Musketry Camp.  Withernsea is represented by Edith’s lodgings at 76 Queen Street, The cabinet is sprinkled with copies of Amon Hen, The Hobbit, and The Return of the King.

The second side cabinet concentrates on sites in Hull associated with Tolkien.  Here, there are photos of Brooklands Officers’ Hospital and the former Endsleigh College. A photo of Mother Mary Michael who visited Tolkien at Brooklands is included, as is a copy of one of his medical reports.  Extra colour is provided by copies of Amon Hen, Mallorn, The Fellowship of the Ring, and a recent hardback Hobbit.

Items relating to Hornsea and Withernsea

The central notice states that Tolkien left the area on 11 October 1918, but Wayne Hammond has proved in a recent email to me that Tolkien actually left for Blackpool Convalescence Hospital on 11 September of that year.





Cover art for The Fall of Gondolin, due out August 2018

J.R.R. Tolkien is such a prolific author that, 45 years after his death, he is still providing us with publications that sell in their tens of thousands. With so many coming out in recent years – and the latest, The Fall of Gondolin, arriving in a couple of weeks – it is important to understand their significance to Tolkien’s legacy and not dismiss them as an attempt to make a quick buck. (more…)