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.