Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth

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Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth by Catherine McIlwaine

Hardcover – Bodleian Library – Jul 2018 – 416 pages

The range of J. R. R. Tolkien’s talents is remarkable. Not only was he an accomplished linguist and philologist, as well as a scholar of Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature and Norse folklore, but also a skillful illustrator and storyteller. Drawing on these talents, he created a universe which is for many readers as real as the physical world they inhabit daily.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth explores the huge creative endeavor behind Tolkien’s enduring popularity. Lavishly illustrated with three hundred images of his manuscripts, drawings, maps, and letters, the book traces the creative process behind his most famous literary works – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion – and reproduces personal photographs and private papers, many of which have never been seen before in print.

Six essays introduce the reader to the person of J. R. R. Tolkien and to main themes in his life and work, including the influence of northern languages and legends on the creation of his own legendarium; his concept of “Faërie” as an enchanted literary realm; the central importance of his invented languages in his fantasy writing; his visual imagination and its emergence in his artwork; and the encouragement he derived from his close friend C. S. Lewis and their literary group the Inklings.

The book brings together the largest collection of original Tolkien material ever assembled in a single volume. Drawing on the extensive archives of the Tolkien collections at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, which stretch to more than five hundred boxes, and Marquette University, Milwaukee, as well as private collections, this hugely ambitious and exquisitely produced book draws together the worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien – scholarly, literary, creative, and domestic – offering a rich and detailed understanding and appreciation of this extraordinary author.

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