TOLKIEN - MAKER OF MIDDLE-EARTH

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Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earthIf you're a fan of Tolkien and love reading his novels, such as 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord Of The Rings', then you might like to know about a new book based on his works. This 416-page hardback was compiled by Catherine Mcilwaine, an Archivist at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, and I was fortunate enough to ask her some questions about it. So, Catherine, it's now over to you.


Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth (Hardcover)


1) What are your own origins, Ms. Catherine Mcilwaine?   I’m the Tolkien Archivist at the Bodleian Libraries, located at the University of Oxford, where I’ve worked on the Tolkien Archive for the last 15 years.

2) What inspired you to assemble, ‘Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth’?   The Tolkien Archive at the Bodleian Library is only available to academic researchers so this book was a way of giving something back to the fans. By reproducing over 300 images of items from the Tolkien Archive, fans around the world can share in Tolkien’s unique vision of Middle-earth - through his manuscript drafts, hand-drawn maps, drawings, paintings, and invented languages.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth
3) After writing this book, what do you find is the most surprising fact featured in it?   I made so many amazing discoveries along the way that it’s difficult to choose just one! I love the fan mail that Tolkien received, including a letter from a 19-year-old Terry Pratchett, and lyrics sent by Chuck and Joni Mitchell. But one of my favorite items is a page showing an early title for 'The Lord of the Rings' where it’s called ‘The Magic Ring’. If this sounds rather like a Grimm’s fairy tale, that’s because the book began as a children’s story - a sequel to 'The Hobbit' - before taking on a life of its own. 

4) If you were able to ask Tolkien one single question, what question would you ask him and why?   I’d ask him what his favorite book was. 'The Lord of the Rings' has a special place in the hearts of so many readers that it would be interesting to know which work had a special place in Tolkien’s heart.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth
5) During your time in this field, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   Every weekend I take long walks in the Oxfordshire countryside with my dog which is a perfect antidote to poring over manuscripts or staring at a computer screen. It helps me to take stock of what’s important in life, to breathe more deeply, and to appreciate the natural world.

6) If you had a personal motto, what would it be?   Live gently and love deeply.

And on that note, I'd like to thank Ms. Mcilwaine for telling us about her new book, ‘Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth’, before directing you towards the official Bodleian online store so you can pick up a copy. I would also like to acknowledge that she had some help when compiling this book, help from Verlyn Flieger, John Garth, Wayne Hammond, Carl Hostetter, Christina Scull, and Tom Shippey.

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