Tag Archives: Tolkien’s writing

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

Posted in 100 years of Middle-earth, Research tangents, Tolkien in the First World War | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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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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

Posted in 100 years of Middle-earth, Book news and reviews, John Garth’s writing, Tolkien in the First World War, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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

Posted in Chronology of composition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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

Posted in Book news and reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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Since writing this, Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien has been published, so the speculations below regarding its content are out of date.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

Posted in 100 years of Middle-earth, Book news and reviews, Tolkien in the First World War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Bottling the essence of languages: Tolkien’s ‘A Secret Vice’

From sound aesthetic to Finnegans Wake, a new book explores Tolkien’s relationship to language. Here’s my review for the New Statesman. A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages Ed. Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins HarperCollins (223pp, £16.99) Horsemen, barbaric yet noble, … Continue reading

Posted in Book news and reviews, Tolkien’s creative spirit | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

A turbulent darkness: Tolkien’s first story

Here’s a short review of Tolkien’s The Story of Kullervo that I wrote for the Mail On Sunday when the book came out in September 2015. I reproduce it here, with permission, as the book becomes available in the USA, … Continue reading

Posted in 100 years of Middle-earth, Book news and reviews | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Dragon scale: Why it’s impossible to size up Tolkien’s Middle-earth

A piece of fan art illustrating the relative size of Tolkien’s dragons raises a far more interesting issue than how big was Smaug or Glaurung or Ancalagon the Black. It’s an issue that should give pause for thought in any … Continue reading

Posted in Tolkien’s creative spirit | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tolkien’s death of Smaug: American inspiration revealed

My latest article for the Guardian: As well as its familiar roots in Icelandic mythology, this Middle-earth story also has some surprising transatlantic sources The dragon soars overhead, its underside armoured with gems from its hoard. The bowman has one … Continue reading

Posted in 100 years of Middle-earth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments