News stories

A chronicle of recent news stories of interest to those studying Tolkien and his works, set out by date.

24 January

Marquette MS. Tolkien 3/​4/​12/​1a
© The Tolkien Estate Limited

Exhibit of J.R.R. Tolkien’s manuscripts for The Hobbit and LotR coming to Milwaukee

Milwaukee Independent

The Haggerty Museum of Art and Raynor Memorial Libraries at Marquette University recently announced a collaborative exhibition for the public, featuring items from the beloved creator of Middle-earth in J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript.…

On view at the Haggerty Museum of Art August 19 through December 12, the exhibition derives from a partnership between the Museum, the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Marquette’s Raynor Memorial Libraries, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), and the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries.…

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22 January

MND campaign: Rare The Hobbit edition will raise more for fight after Express victory

Express } Justin Stoneman

A rare first edition copy of The Hobbit will be auctioned to raise money for the fight against motor neurone disease thanks to a Sunday Express campaign.

Ben Wadsworth, 33, a manager at WeBuyBooks, was inspired” to donate the proceeds of the sale after feeling emotional” in reading about [the Expresss] Fund the Fight against MND” crusade.… Mr Wadsworth said his colleagues at the second-hand book company in Rossendale, Lancashire, were particularly touched by the account of Royd Tolkien, the great-grandson of The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien, in nursing his brother Mike as he battled MND.…

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20 January

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is boldly going where J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t

GQ } Grant Rindner

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series is one of the biggest TV projects in development, and it’s also one of the most mysterious. The studio has been incredibly tight-lipped about their big budget adaptation, but we now have a broad description and, most importantly, a title: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The showrunners, relative newcomers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, clearly are comfortable setting the bar extremely high: This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics. The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men,” the pair said in a press release.…

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The relevance of Tolkien’s unfinished work The New Shadow

Merion West } Sukhayl Niyazov

… In the fictional — and, in many ways, idealized — world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit humans are taken to be inherently good, while evil is not part of our nature but is rather external, epitomized by the dark Lord Sauron and his ring of power, whose destruction leads to the triumph of good and prosperity in Middle-Earth. However, in his uncompleted sequel to The Lord of the Rings, The New Shadow, as well as The Silmarillion, Tolkien presented a different vision of human nature, one that is more realistic and more concomitant with his Catholic upbringing.…

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19 January

See fantastical maps from Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and More: In honor of the centennial of James Joyce’s Ulysses,’ a San Marino, California exhibition takes museumgoers on a literary journey

Smithsonian Magazine } Nora McGreevy

Maps help users orient themselves in the real world, but they can also help people escape reality. For centuries, authors have been known to include fictional maps in the pages of their novels, as a way of inviting readers to immerse themselves in imaginary worlds. Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, for instance, mapped the fantastical locations of Elven woods and hobbit homes throughout his imaginary Middle Earth [sic].…

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J.R.R. Tolkien’s map of Middle-earth on display at the Huntington. (Mel Melcon/​Los Angeles Times)
J.R.R. Tolkien’s map of Middle-earth
on display at the Huntington.
(Mel Melcon/​Los Angeles Times)

‘Mapping Fiction,’ at the Huntington, explores novels’ landscapes, invented and real

Los Angeles Times } Dorany Pineda

… Drawing on the Huntington’s archives, the show explores the construction of made-up worlds through maps and novels, including expressive etchings of Joyce’s Dublin; J.R.R. Tolkien’s map from The Lord of the Rings trilogy [sic]; Octavia Butler’s visualizations of Parable of the Talents and the unpublished Parable of the Trickster; Robert Louis Stevenson’s map of Treasure Island; and many others.…

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Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings title reveal: Exclusive behind-the-scenes images } greendragon

Amazon’s Prime Video is gearing up for the much anticipated Lord of the Rings show, coming this September; and today they have revealed the title for the show. It is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

This, however, is to be no ordinary tv show; the budget and time already invested, and anticipated investment to come, make that clear. So it is only fitting that the title reveal was no ordinary reveal… The title was in fact (as the official press release states) forged from real molten metal running like fiery rivers through hand-carved wooden ravines to craft its silvery letter forms.’ You can watch a dramatic video of this happening, here:

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18 January

The Lord of the Rings re-imagined as ancient China

Boing Boing } Thom Dunn

This gorgeous art comes from animator and visual designer Leia Ham, who was struck by the idea of: what if The Lord of the Rings had been modeled after Chinese art aesthetics, instead of European? As she wrote on her website:

LOTR: Tale of the Middle Kingdom is a personal project that reimagines J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth in a Chinese setting. China is called 中国 (Zhōngguó) – meaning The Middle Kingdom”. Taking inspiration from the books, movies, ancient Chinese artefacts and paintings, this project is a love letter to my own Chinese heritage, seen through the lens of medieval fantasy and historical design.

She gave a little more context in a series of tweets: …

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14 January

JRR Tolkien & Edith [Bratt] Tolkien
JRR Tolkien & Edith [Bratt] Tolkien,
photographed by Pamela Chandler.
©Pamela Chandler

The rare images of J.R.R. Tolkien which caused a sensation at auction

Country Life } Annunciata Elwes

In 1961, Pamela Chandler was sent to photograph the notoriously camera-shy J. R. R. Tolkien. Chandler was a Society photographer, the daughter of a famous conjurer and ventriloquist, and the first woman to photograph a Prime Minister when she was commissioned to take a portrait of Harold Macmillan. A couple of dozen of her images are part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, including the 1960 Macmillan image.

But it was the 1961 job, some six years after the final volume of the Lord of the Rings triology [sic] was published, whose ripples were felt at an auction last month. Chandler became fast friends with Tollers’ and his wife, … writing in her journal that the Tolkiens were the most adorable people you could care to meet and I can never think of one without the other’.…

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Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The artistic Queen: How Margrethe of Denmark forged a public profile outside her royal role

Royal Central } Jessica Storoschuk

… In the early 1970s, Margrethe created illustrations for the Lord of the Rings books and sent the drawings to J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien was impressed with her work and how similar they were to his own illustrations. In 1977, Margrethe’s drawings were used as the basis for the Danish translation of the series (redrawn by Eric Fraser). However, she used a pseudonym for these, Ingahild Grathmer.…

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12 January

Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena

Fine Books & Collections

Debuting later this week at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens [in Pasadena, California] is an exhibition called Mapping Fiction that highlights the way in which mapped spaces have played a role in fiction, e.g., Joyce’s Dublin, Tolkien’s Middle-earth, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous island.

Octavia E. Butler’s hand-drawn maps from notes for Parable of the Talents (1998) and her unpublished novel Parable of the Trickster” are also among the highlights of the seventy-item exhibition that examines the ways authors and mapmakers have built compelling fictional worlds.” …

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11 January

Lord of the Rings super-fan spends thousands creating ‘Hobbit hole’ from old shed

Daily Star

A Lord of the Rings-mad woodshop artist spent thousands creating a Hobbit hole’ from an old shed in his backyard — and he claims he’s determined to finish it in 2022.

Ali Hughson, 48, has been a fan of JRR Tolkien since his father read the books to him as a child and has continued the proud tradition of watching the trilogy with his own children.

But last year, the IKEA worker decided to take his fandom to a much higher level and spent £2,000 renovating a rundown shed in his garden into the perfect Hobbit Hole to create wood-burning art in his spare time.…

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