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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. 

3 comments on “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth”

  1. Sumptuous Beauty And High Scholarship This is the catalogue for a magnificent exhibition on J.R.R. Tolkien's written and visual artistry currently being held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. As is only fitting, this is a work of consummate beauty and scholarship. Whether you are a lover of Middle-earth or not, you will find much within these pages to savor.The catalogue is magnificently illustrated throughout with Tolkien's own artwork,including some from his youth and others, like rough maps and sketches he created...

  2. A standout book for a major Tolkien exhibition The biggest J.R.R. Tolkien event since the 2001-2003 movies is now underway in Oxford.The Bodleian Library’s first exhibition on J.R.R. Tolkien in 25 years opened June 1. The exhibition is important for a number of reasons. The Bodleian is a major repository of papers, manuscripts, and artwork related to Tolkien, and its collection has grown considerably in that time. The number of scholarly books and papers on Tolkien and his writings had grown considerably, and authors inevitably...

  3. Great maps! Great maps. This book has some of Tolkien's own "working draft" maps that he appears to have been using while plotting the stories he wrote. It also has cleaned-up version that he drew, as well as maps by Pauline Baynes, whose work Tolkien had approved. The essays were okay, though I don't fully agree with one or two of them. For me, the best stuff is the artwork and the maps.

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