Monday, October 1, 2018

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

There only four short weeks till the exhibition Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth currently running at the Bodleian Library, Oxford closes (closing date 28th October). With free entry (pre-book a time slot) this opportunity to view items from the Tolkien Trust, Marquette University and the Bodleian Library's Tolkien Archive is well worth the visit.

A chance to view this rarely displayed collection was thrill, made even more so in that Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters and the development of the story Roverandom, featured amongst the illustrations, drafts, sketch-books and other artefacts.

Tolkien started writing these communications in 1920, starting with a note from ' .. Fr. Chr. ' to  his son John (aged 3). Tolkien was commuting between Oxford and Leeds having been elected to the post of Reader at the University of Leeds.

This tradition continued and Christmas 1924 'Master John Francis Reuel Tolkien' duly received his letter, to the family's new address in West Park, Leeds.

With Tolkien's academic career seeing him return to Oxford and the greater works of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion establishing his talent as an artist and story-teller it was heartening to see this Leeds connection as part of that story.

The Tolkien Society will be hosting a four day conference in Birmingham in 2019. Tolkien 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Society and bring together fans, scholars and artists from far and wide. Be There!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tolkien and Yorkshire

100 years ago the First World War was still raging with casualties and deaths now into the millions.

For Tolkien trench fever had seen to his transportation back to England and by the 8th of November 1916 he was back in Birmingham. By December he was well enough to leave hospital and initially convalesced at Great Haywood.

Towards the end of this period of recovery he was taken ill again and was sent to a sanatorium in Harrogate.

Tolkien would continue to recuperate
and re-train in East Yorkshire These events are now marked with the plaques in Hornsea and Hull.  

 2017 is also the centenary year of John Ronald and Edith Tolkien's  walk near Roos in East Yorkshire and the 'hemlock glade' that became woven into the evolving fabric of his legendarium as the story of Beren and Luthien.
Tolkien Society Seminar 2017

The Tolkien Society's Seminar  has been held Leeds since 2015 and building on previous years it was a great success. This year's subject 'Poetry and Song' was addressed in papers by both established and upcoming Tolkien scholars. This year's seminar saw regular speakers Dr Dimitra Fimi and Dr Andrew Higgins joined by Dr Stuart Lee of the University of Oxford

Plans are on-going for the 2018 Seminar which again will be held in Leeds.

The scheduling of the Seminar in early July coincides with  the International Medieval Congress which is held annually at the University of Leeds.

Tolkien Society

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tolkien and Gordon, the Leeds connection

By the time Tolkien took the position of Reader at the University of Leeds he had already made many contributions to the academic life of the University of Oxford.

He had returned to Oxford with his wife Edith and infant son, John, in 1918 and worked as a  lexicographer engaged in the compilation of the New English Dictionary. He also provided private tutoring to undergraduates and was in the process of compiling a Middle English Glossary for his former tutor Kenneth Sisam.

After moving to Leeds, as the plaque at 2 Darnley Road now testifies,

      '.. he collaborated on a new edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ..'.

This collaboration with E.V. Gordon would see Tolkien the tutor, working with one of his former students. Gordon studied at University College, Oxford and an entry in a college account book from 1920 of payments to tutors confirms his tutelage by Tolkien. 
Gordon went on to succeed Tolkien as Professor at Leeds and the friendship and collaboration that developed during their time there would have no doubt continued had it not been for Gordon's death in 1938.

The Brotherton Library at Leeds holds a collection of Tolkien and Gordon's letters purchased in 2014.

Tolkien Society Seminar 2016

The Tolkien Society's Seminar returned to Leeds for a second year and was a great success. This year's subject 'Life, Death and Immortality' proved most popular with those who attended. Many papers were submitted and created a full schedule for the event. Among this year's speakers were  Dr Dimitra Fimi and Dr Andrew Higgins editors of the recently republished essay by Tolkien, 'A Secret Vice'.

Plans are on-going for the 2017 Seminar which again will be held in Leeds.

The scheduling of the Seminar in early July coincides with  the International Medieval Congress which is held annually at the University of Leeds.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tolkien links with Leeds in 2015

The Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds made the purchase of letters, poems and prose that will form the Gordon-Tolkien Collection held by the Brotherton Library.

            'They provide insight into the close friendship between Tolkien and Eric Gordon,
              who joined him in the English department at Leeds in 1922.'


Among the papers is a draft of a drinking song 'The Root of the Boot' (Sam's 'Troll Poem' from The Fellowship of the Ring). This was performed at the Whitelock's Ale House, Turk's Head Yard in Leeds back in March.

Tolkien Society Seminar 2015

The Tolkien Society's Seminar was held in Leeds this year; this annual event hosted by the TS consisted of a range of papers under the theme 'One Hundred Years of Middle-earth'.

Plans are ongoing for the 2016 Seminar which again will be held in Leeds.

The scheduling of the Seminar in early July coincides with  the International Medieval Congress
 held annually at the University of Leeds.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tolkien, Professor of English Language

J.R.R Tolkien, University of Leeds
On the 1st Ocober 1924 J.R.R. Tolkien started the new academic year at the University of Leeds as Professor of English Language.

After his appointment as Reader in English Language in 1920, he had been given the responsibility for the linguistic teaching of the language side of the syllabus in the English Department.

When George Gordon left Leeds Tolkien was a candidate for the Leeds chair. In the event it went to Lascelles Abercrombie, however the Vice-Chancellor at Leeds promised Tolkien that a new Professorship of English Language would be created.

2015 Tolkien Society Seminar, 4th July
           The Hilton, Neville Street, Leeds

The Tolkien Society

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Well a year has passed since the Tolkien Society with the Leeds Civic Trust unveiled the plaque at 2 Darnley Road. It stirred quite an interest in Tolkien and Leeds.

             There was a bulletin from the University of Leeds 
                who also supported of the plaque. It includes a
                the portrait of Tolkien from the 1920s when he
                was a member of the English Faculty.
It was followed by a piece during the run-up to the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey referring to materials held at the Brotherton Library.
For today’s residents of West Park the Leodis Photographic Archive contains some period images of Darnley Road. These provide an insight to the opportunities that Tolkien saw for himself and his family at this time in their life. They had been living in St Marks Terrace (off Woodhouse Lane) for the best part of three years, though life so close to the city came with its own problems,  ‘chemicals in the air rotted the curtains within six months, and baby Michael was covered in smuts if he was left outside in his pram for any length of time; and Ronald found that he had to change his collar three times a day!’
The move to what were the ‘leafy suburbs’ of north Leeds must have been quite a prospect.
It still is, and today 2 Darnley Road stands as a lasting memorial to the development of Leeds and those who have come to live and work in this great city.

Ian Spittlehouse
The Tolkien Society

Monday, October 1, 2012

The plaque is here!

It has been a long journey to get here, but this morning the plaque was unveiled to an audience invited by the Tolkien Society, Leeds Civic Trust and the West Park Residents Association.

The plaque at 2 Darnley Road, West Park was unveiled by Dr Kersten Hall a visiting Fellow at the University of Leeds.

 It was an honour to attend such an event and my thanks go out to everyone who helped make it happen.

Leeds Book Club
The Leeds Civic Trust
University of Leeds

Headingley Lit Fest
                             with Ian left holding the bag heh heh ;-)
Middle-earth News
The One Ring . Net
Geek Syndicate
The Examiner
For other reports search: plaque tolkien