Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

Edited by Catherine McIlwaine

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

Edited by Catherine McIlwaine

Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

With Verlyn Flieger, John Garth, Wayne Hammond, Carl Hostetter, Christina Scull and Tom Shippey
416 pages | 300 color plates | 9 1/4 x 10
Cloth $65.00 ISBN: 9781851244850 Published July 2018 For sale in North America only
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.

This landmark publication, produced on the occasion of a major exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford in 2018 and at the Morgan Library in New York in 2019, is set to become a standard work in the literature on J. R. R. Tolkien. 

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch – Catherine McIlwaine
Tolkien and the Inklings – John Garth
Faërie: Tolkien’s Perilous Land – Verlyn Flieger
Inventing Elvish – Carl F. Hostetter
Tolkien and ‘that noble northern spirit’ – Tom Shippey
Tolkien’s Visual Art – Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull

Reading Tolkien: ‘to England; to my country’
Childhood: ‘born with a talent for language’
Student Days: ‘the beginning of the legendarium’
Sheer Invention: ‘new patterns of old colours’
The Silmarillion: ‘the Silmarils are in my heart’
The Professor’s Study: ‘from time already mortgaged’
The Hobbit: ‘In a hold in the ground there lived a hobbit’
The Lord of the Rings: ‘it is written in my life-blood’
Mapping The Lord of the Rings: ‘I wisely started with a map and made the story fit’

Select Bibliography
Picture Credits
Exhibition Items

Review Quotes
“Incredible . . . . A hefty book packed full of gorgeous, fascinating images.” 
Times Literary Supplement
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth aims to demonstrate this link between the evolution of the world of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and the biography of their author. . . . The scope of his world was truly vast, and his desire to populate it impressive in itself. More to the point, the paintings are beautiful.”
New York Times Book Review
“Reveals [Tolkien’s] painstaking creative process. . . . Reflect[s] a literary mind almost obsessed with perfecting each and every [detail].”
Toronto Star
“Splendid . . . . Impressive.” 
Wall Street Journal
“Extensive . . . . Fascinating.”
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