The Making of an English Mythology; from Reality to Fantasy and back again, 1917-1954: Tolkien’s Creative Years.

Following his recovery from the Somme and ‘trench fever’ on his return from France in 1916, Tolkien was determined to create an entire mythology for England. He had hinted at this during his undergraduate days at Oxford when he studied and wrote of the Finnish ‘Kalevala’:

“I would that we had more of it left – something of the sort that belonged to the English.”

This idea now grew during his recuperation until it reached ‘epic’ proportions. This is how Tolkien expressed it when recollecting many years later:

“Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen), I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large to the cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply: to England, to my country. “

J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham, 1896-1916: The Formative Years, Part One (to 1908) – Middle English

The South African Prelude – Beginnings in Bloemfontein: Arthur Reuel Tolkien and Mabel Suffield (pictured above in the family group), both from Birmingham, were married in Cape Town Cathedral on 16th April 1891, after which came an exhausting railway journey of nearly seven hundred miles to the capital of the Orange Free State. Less thanContinue reading “J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham, 1896-1916: The Formative Years, Part One (to 1908) – Middle English”

Tolkien’s Shire: From Middle England to Middle-earth – People, Places & Past Times.

Sarehole as Hobbiton: J.R.R. Tolkien lived near Sarehole Mill as a child in what was then a Worcestershire village and is now part of the Hall Green district of Birmingham. Together with the neighbouring Moseley Bog, the Sarehole area inspired the Tolkien stories of Middle-earth. The Tolkien Trail – Late Victorian & Edwardian Birmingham. Birmingham’sContinue reading “Tolkien’s Shire: From Middle England to Middle-earth – People, Places & Past Times.”

Who were the Huguenots? Currents of Cultural & Linguistic Change in France & Early Modern Europe.

Pictured above are French Protestants at Lyons Temple service, which was converted from an ordinary house. The hatted preacher is timed by an hourglass, and the two sexes are seated mainly in separate parts of the temple. Introduction – A Retrospective on Genocide & Deculturation: The word ‘genocide’ is essentially a term relating to eventsContinue reading “Who were the Huguenots? Currents of Cultural & Linguistic Change in France & Early Modern Europe.”

Who are the Ukrainians? Mythology & History, Part II: 1801-2001 – From Napoleon’s Empire to end of Empires?

Putin’s Perverse & Very Unorthodox History: In a letter of 10th March, H.H. Patriarch Kirill ‘of Moscow and all Russia’ replied to a letter sent on 2nd March by World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca asking the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church to mediate so that theContinue reading “Who are the Ukrainians? Mythology & History, Part II: 1801-2001 – From Napoleon’s Empire to end of Empires?”

Bible Battles & The ‘Ascent of Man’: Nineteenth-Century Sceptics & Critics – Religion, Philosophy & Science.

Victorian Britain – An Age of Conformity? For many people in the early twenty-first century, the title ‘mid-Victorian Britain’ conjures up an image of church-going, sabbath seriousness, packed pews and the head of the household, invariably the father, questioning his progeny on the points of the morning sermon. The very word ‘Victorian’ has passed intoContinue reading “Bible Battles & The ‘Ascent of Man’: Nineteenth-Century Sceptics & Critics – Religion, Philosophy & Science.”

Scenes from Baptist History, 1814-1914: Missionaries, Mechanics & Manufacturers.

Includes a scene from Regent Street Baptist Church, Smethwick, Birmingham, from November 1897, ‘The Church in Meeting Assembled’ by Rev. A. J. Chandler, Minister of Bearwood Baptist Church, Birmingham, 1965-79. Revival, ‘Respectability’ & Reform in Britain, 1814-1859: In 1814, there was an evangelistic revival at Redruth in Cornwall which continued for nine days. An eye-witnessContinue reading “Scenes from Baptist History, 1814-1914: Missionaries, Mechanics & Manufacturers.”

Scenes from Baptist History: Persecution of the Puritans, Evangelical Revival & William Carey, 1662-1812.

Persecution of All ‘Nonconformists’, 1662-87: It was not until 1687 that the dissenting or ‘nonconformist’ churches felt able to look back upon ye Times of our late Troubles since the Act of Uniformity in 1662 had taken away the relative toleration they had experienced in the Interregnum. The Presbyterian minister Richard Baxter (1615-91) had takenContinue reading “Scenes from Baptist History: Persecution of the Puritans, Evangelical Revival & William Carey, 1662-1812.”

Three Scenes from Baptist History – The First Fifty Years, 1612-1662: The Puritan Revolution & The Civil Wars.

Two more scenes from Rev. Arthur J Chandler’s unpublished plays on Baptist History, featuring Thomas Helwys and Col. John Hutchinson, plus a scene from David Starsmeare’s play, ‘Diggers: The Story of a Commune’, featuring Gerrard Winstanley. Background – The First English Puritans & Exile in the Netherlands: The Elizabethan puritans wanted to reform the churchContinue reading “Three Scenes from Baptist History – The First Fifty Years, 1612-1662: The Puritan Revolution & The Civil Wars.”

Poverty, Progress & the Nonconformist Conscience in Britain, 1844-1914: London, Manchester & Birmingham.

The ‘Manchester School’ and the Industrial City: By the 1840s, Manchester had become the symbol of a new form of social organisation, a ‘modern Athens’ to Benjamin Disraeli. But, in a sense, the City deserved the rough treatment it subsequently got from two notable foreign visitors, Alexis de Tocqueville and Friedrich Engels. In 1851, JohnContinue reading “Poverty, Progress & the Nonconformist Conscience in Britain, 1844-1914: London, Manchester & Birmingham.”