Faith, Fantasy & Fairy Tales – Tolkien, ‘Jack’ Lewis & ‘The Inklings’, 1926-66: Part One – Creator & Sub-creators.

Entertaining Angels Unawares: When Tolkien returned to Oxford in 1925, an element was missing from his life. It had disappeared with the breaking of his fellowship of the TCBS at the Battle of the Somme, for not since those days had he enjoyed male friendship to the extent of emotional and intellectual commitment. He hadContinue reading “Faith, Fantasy & Fairy Tales – Tolkien, ‘Jack’ Lewis & ‘The Inklings’, 1926-66: Part One – Creator & Sub-creators.”

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; the Formative Years, 1896-1916: Part Two (1908-16) – ‘Lang.’, Lore & Love.

Inventing Language: As a result of his insatiable love of words, Ronald started to invent his own languages. Some children have rudimentary private languages that they like to share together. This was what Ronald’s cousins Mary and Marjorie Incledon had done. They now lived outside Birmingham at Barnt Green, the neighbouring village to Rednal, andContinue reading “J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham; the Formative Years, 1896-1916: Part Two (1908-16) – ‘Lang.’, Lore & Love.”

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”

The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.

The (no-longer-so-dark) Dark Ages: Since the discovery of the Sutton Hoo burial in Suffolk in 1939, archaeology has continued to shed light on the ‘Dark Ages’, where documentary evidence is lacking. The distribution of pagan fifth-century Anglo-Saxon burials indicates the probable areas of earliest English settlement in Britain. The English ‘advance’ continued throughout the periodContinue reading “The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.”

Fact & Film: ‘Silly Suffolk’ – The Dialect of ‘The Dig’ at Sutton Hoo.

Above: the Sutton Hoo helmet discovered by Brown’s excavations History lessons: Soon after my son moved to Framlingham in Suffolk to take up his first teaching post at the local Thomas Mills’ High School, in 2014, I fulfilled one of my ‘bucket list’ ambitions, which was to visit Sutton Hoo, the archaeological site nearby which had beenContinue reading “Fact & Film: ‘Silly Suffolk’ – The Dialect of ‘The Dig’ at Sutton Hoo.”