Sunday, October 1, 2023

Eve of an Anniversary

Mae Govannen

A big thank you to you for visiting at this time.

Next year will be the start of many commentaries and accounts of Tolkien and his life in Oxford.

It is important though to note the place that Leeds and the North had in his published literary and academic progress.

In June of 1923 A Northern Venture was published by the Leeds University English School Association.

In October 1923 the poem The Cat and the Fiddle was published  in Yorkshire Poetry.

By December in 1923 a 'clean copy' of 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' had been sent for review

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Ten Years Old




On a sunny day in 2012 the Leeds Civic Trust in partnership with The Tolkien Society and the University of Leeds unveiled the plaque at 2 Darnley Road, West Park, Leeds.


Here is a postcard of this suburb of north Leeds from 1905.  It presents the property at the  end of Spen Lane in its semi-rural aspect.

 (Darnley Road circled)

Friday, October 1, 2021

Tolkien and Leeds 1921

 After a year in post Tolkien was establishing 

his position as an advocate of the study of Middle English

Having been given a free-hand in the revision of the English syllabus by George S. Gordon, Tolkien began to develop English studies at Leeds. He proposed the series of Middle English texts for study and was in favour of the normalization of texts. This would involve making the translation of the texts consistent in thier spelling. 

Kenneth Sisam had suggested in January of 1921 that a student edition of 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' was long overdue. C. T. Onions suggested to Tolkien that he should prepare such an edition. 

In October 1921 George S. Gordon asked the opinion of David Nichol Smith of a student, one Eric Valentine Gordon (no relation) who had been recommended by Tolkien for a staff position at Leeds.

With his family now in Leeds and after taking rooms at Holly Bank on the Otley Road in Headingley the Tolkien's had moved to 11 St Mark's Terrace, close to the University where they would stay till March 1924.



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Tolkien and Leeds 1920

One hundred years ago John Ronald Reuel Tolkien 

was appointed

 Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds 

and arrived in the city take up the post

Tolkien would be joined by his growing family after his wife Edith gave birth (in Oxford) to their second son Michael. Initially Tolkien rented a room at 21a St Michael's Road, Headingley and returned to Oxford at the weekends.
As the Tolkien's approached Christmas 1920 they were starting down a road that would see the family move to Leeds and become part of the community of which the University was the centre.

To maintain the connection with his young family, Tolkien began a tradition that would last till the eary 1940s,  festive letters to his children. The first was written to his eldest son John, in Oxford (from Father Christmas, North Pole) in December 1920.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Christopher Tolkien (1924 - 2020)

Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (21 November 1924 – 15 January 2020) was the third son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien (1892–1973), and the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T.
Christopher was born in Leeds in the same year that his father had been made Professor of the English Language at Leeds University at the age of thirty-two. His parents had purchased 2 Darnley Road and had moved with their children, John (6) and Michael (4) from St Marks Terrace.
He was baptised Christopher Reuel, the first name being in honor of Christopher Wiseman.

The Tolkien Society  is an educational charity, literary society, and international fan club, devoted to promoting the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tolkien and Wright

Tolkien's first academic post as Reader in the English Department at the University of Leeds came after his work as a lexicographer on the Oxford English Dictionary. In late 1918 parts of the latest edition were still being compiled at Oxford. Tolkien worked on the etymology of warm, wasp, water, wick (lamp) and winter.

For any philologist the compilation of glossaries was an essental part of the study of texts. Tolkien's application for the post in Leeds would see him join an academic institution familiar to one particular tutor during his undergraduate studies. This tutor was Joseph Wright.

Wright was born in Idle near Bradford in 1855 and from humble beginnings took an active interest in education as both teacher and pupil. Largely self-taught, Wright would eventually study Comparative Philology in Germany and on returning to England was engaged by the Taylor Institute in Oxford. Wright remained part of the University to his retirement in 1925.

In 1925 Wright wrote a letter of recommendation for Tolkien's application at Rawlinson and Bosworth chair of Anglo-Saxon:
"I have known Professor Tolkien intimately since the beginning of his undergraduate days at Oxford, and have greatly admired his keen interest in the philological study of Latin, Greek, and more especially the Germanic Languages. He regularly attended my classes and lectures for two years on Comparative Philology in general, and on Latin, Greek, and Gothic, and I formed a high opinion of his attainments in these subjects..."
Tolkien Gateway: Joseph Wright
Joseph Wright

Joseph Wright, Taylor Institue, Oxford

Wright had attended evening classes at the Yorkshire College of Science, Leeds at the start of his academic career when he was a schoolmaster in Bradford. The Yorkshire College of Science was founded in 1874 and was one of the institutions that became part of the University of Leeds.
The relationship between the undergraduate Tolkien and Prof. Wright was brought to the screen this year in Dome Karukoski's  Tolkien

Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult) and Wright (Derek Jacobi)
Wright died in 1930 and his wife Elizabeth and Tolkien were named executors in his will. When Elizabeth died in 1958 the final settlement of Wright's will could be completed. This was that his 'residuary estate', '.. shall pass to the University of Leeds ..'.

In 1963 the Joseph Wright Scholarship was established. The fund provides for students wishing to undertake research degree study in English or German languages or literatures within the School of English or the Department of German.

University of Leeds

The Tolkien Society  is an educational charity, literary society, and international fan club, devoted to promoting the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

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!