Author Archives: John Garth

The dream of Geoffrey Bache Smith

It’s not often you stumble upon a piece of writing by a key member of Tolkien’s school circle, the T.C.B.S. Today I am pleased as Punch to be able to present such a piece by G.B. Smith, to mark his … Continue reading

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Oxford and the Olympics

[This was published in Oxford Today, the university’s alumni magazine, ahead of the 2012 London Olympics. The most dated things about it are the reference to a certain Mayor of London by the name of Boris, and Oxford Today itself, … Continue reading

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Testing time for Tolkien, the Inklings and the T.C.B.S.

Even after 30-odd years it still happens. I’m in the middle of dusty nowhere trying to lug a broken television set across Spain, or I’m arguing with some bureaucrat who won’t let me get going, or I’m hopelessly lost in … Continue reading

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How I’ve helped to craft a Dickensian dystopia

An unexpected delight of the past year has been editing Kid: A History of the Future by Sebastian De Souza, better known as an actor in The Great, Normal People, The Borgias and Skins. The job went a long way … Continue reading

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The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth

‘Magnificent. The commentary is great, really thoroughly researched; the pictures are stunning’ — Tom Shippey, author of The Road to Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century From world-renowned Tolkien expert John Garth comes the authoritative exploration of the … Continue reading

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Ursula Le Guin, the language of Earthsea, and Tolkien

A tribute embedded in A Wizard of Earthsea?   I used this question to introduce a social media post yesterday. Is should have waited until today, because this turns out to be the anniversary of Ursula Le Guin’s passing, a … Continue reading

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‘He lets us walk the road as JRRT walked it’: Neil Gaiman’s tribute to Christopher Tolkien

Today Christopher Tolkien, who died in January after a short illness, would have been 96. He is sorely missed, though it is a delight and consolation to know that at least one further volume of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings, sanctioned by … Continue reading

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Tolkien’s last friend in Oxford when the world went to war

    ‘Not a single man I know is up except Cullis,’ Tolkien lamented at the start of his final year as an Oxford student. It was 1914, war had just broken out, and their friends had left in droves … Continue reading

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The perils of enchantment: Tolkien’s Lay of Aotrou and Itroun

The encounter between mortal man and immortal enchantress is always fateful in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. In The Lord of the Rings, for instance, Boromir fears the Elf-queen Galadriel and ignores her wisdom, then dies for his sins. The Lay of Aotrou … Continue reading

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Interlude with eels and whalebones

A change is as good as a rest, they say. So here’s a poem. I wrote it about 20 years ago, inspired by some personal crisis now half-forgotten, and by an old Chambers Cyclopaedia I’d picked up cheap in a … Continue reading

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