Author Archives: John Garth

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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Tolkien the opera composer

A guest post by Peter Gilliver No, not that Tolkien – though he was in fact a fairly close relative. I was intrigued to discover that Frederick Tolkien (1848–1939), first cousin once removed of JRRT, was a composer, with at … Continue reading

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Win over £1,000/$1,000 worth of Tolkien books and help Oxford University preserve First World War history

I’ve donated five signed copies of Tolkien and the Great War to help raise money for this appeal. There are some substantially more valuable prizes too. It is only thanks to the personal letters and photographs preserved by various Great … Continue reading

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Gardening the corner of a foreign field

As the Commonwealth War Graves Commission marks its centenary, I recall a 2014 visit to Flanders and northern France when I spoke to the gardeners who keep the cemeteries pristine. With its postcards of poppies and memorials, its hotels and … Continue reading

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Tolkien at Exeter College: Birth of a legend

In which I blow my own trumpet… When you picture J.R.R. Tolkien, it’s probably as a member of Oxford’s Inklings, writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the 1930s and ’40s, or in old age when fame … Continue reading

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When Tolkien reinvented Atlantis and Lewis went to Mars

Discovering the dates of The Fall of Númenor and Out of the Silent Planet A few months ago I revealed what I think is an exciting new find about the origins of J R R Tolkien’s Atlantis story, The Fall of Númenor, the … Continue reading

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Tanks at Gondolin

Here’s an excerpt from my book Tolkien and the Great War to mark the centenary of Tolkien’s discharge on 9 December 1916 from military hospital, where he had begun writing his first ‘lost tale’ of Middle-earth, ‘The Fall of Gondolin’. … Continue reading

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Unseen Tolkien: sex, infertility, adultery and the birth of Galadriel

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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Beren and Lúthien, a centenary publication

Note, 2 June 2017: Since writing this, Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien has been published, so the speculations below regarding its content are out of date. My New Statesman review of the book as published can be read here.    In … Continue reading

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Teaching Tolkien in Las Vegas

Vegas brought out my worst vices. Handed carte blanche to indulge recklessly and obscenely for twelve months, I borrowed books from the university library in such numbers that when it came to returning them, I had to use a suitcase. I even … Continue reading

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