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Bodleian Oxford - Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

decoration01 June 2018|28 Oct. 2018

Oxford University's Bodleian Libraries present the most extensive collection of materials related to J.R.R.Tolkien known to have been gathered together for public display since the 1950s.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth (1 June – 28 October 2018) includes over 200 items - approximately half of which have never been displayed before - from Bodleian's extensive Tolkien Archive and Marquette University's Tolkien Collection, as well as from important private collections.

This seminal exhibition is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see this magnitude of Tolkien-related materials together. The various manuscripts, artworks, maps, letters and artefacts have been gathered from the UK, the US and France, and many will be reunited in Oxford for the first time since the death of J.R.R.Tolkien more than 40 years ago, in a city where Tolkien spent most of his adult life, first as a student of classics in 1911, and eventually as a professor of English language and literature. 

Tolkien is one of the world's best loved authors, with his works regularly appearing in polls of the top 100 greatest British novels of all time. The Hobbit has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, while The Lord of the Rings has sold over 150 million copies, and both works have been translated into over fifty languages.

Curated by Bodleian's Tolkien Archivist, Catherine McIlwaine, the exhibition examines the full breadth of Tolkien's unique literary imagination, from his creation of Middle-earth - the imagined world where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbitare set - to his life and work as an artist, poet, medievalist and scholar of languages. It will examine the scholarly, literary, creative and domestic worlds that influenced Tolkien as an author and artist, taking visitors beyond what they may already know about this extraordinary cultural figure. 

The numerous items exploring the vast spectrum of Tolkien's creative and scholarly output range from his early abstract paintings in The Book of Ishness to the touching tales he wrote for his children. Original manuscripts of his popular classics sit alongside lesser-known and posthumous works and materials, some of which will be on public display for the very first time. The spectacular range of objects on display navigates visitors around various areas of interest including Tolkien's creation of language, his childhood and student days, his career as a scholar of literature, and his family life as a husband and father.


Hobbit Dust Jacket, MS. Tolkien Drawings 32.
© The Tolkien Estate Ltd 1937 

Photo of Tolkien in Botanic Garden, MS. Tolkien photogr. 8, fol. 122.
© The Tolkien Trust 1977

Bilbo comes to the huts of the Raft-elves, MS. Tolkien Drawings 29 
© The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937


01 June 2018|28 Oct. 2018
Weston Library, Broad Street
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