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”

The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest: Chapter I – The Confessor, the Conqueror & the House of Wessex, 1035-1135

The Tragedy of Harold Godwinson: The story of the Norman ‘takeover’ of England has been told very often, most vividly in one of the earliest accounts in the form of Queen Matilda’s tapestry, still kept in Bayeux, which gives it the name it is better known by. French legend maintained the tapestry was commissioned andContinue reading “The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest: Chapter I – The Confessor, the Conqueror & the House of Wessex, 1035-1135”

Unifying the Kingdoms of Britain: The Kings of Wessex & The Birth of England, 871-1031.

Chaos in Christendom: From the late ninth century until the mid-eleventh century in Europe, internal and external problems steadily weakened western Christendom. The Carolingian Empire had fragmented; no major military power existed in the West. The continued attacks of Muslims from the south, a new wave of attackers from central Asia, the Magyars (Hungarians) andContinue reading “Unifying the Kingdoms of Britain: The Kings of Wessex & The Birth of England, 871-1031.”

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.”

Paul’s Mission to ‘The Farthest Limits of the West’ – Did the Apostle Visit Britain? The Roman Conquest & Religion, AD 43-63

‘And did those feet …?’ – Glastonbury Myths: When I moved out of my grandparents’ house (which I bought from my mother) in Coventry in 1991, I discovered a copy of George F. Jowett’s popular book on her old rotating bookshelf, where it had sat for thirty years. The Arthurian legends had always fascinated me,Continue reading “Paul’s Mission to ‘The Farthest Limits of the West’ – Did the Apostle Visit Britain? The Roman Conquest & Religion, AD 43-63”