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.”

‘Cry God for Queen Bess, England and St Cuthbert….!’ How did George become England’s Patron Saint? 

Follow your spirit; and upon this charge Cry God for Harry, England and St George! William Shakespeare, Henry V, Part One. England hasn’t really got a national anthem….The Irish, the Scots and the Welsh all have anthems, the Americans have the cheek to sing ‘My Country ’tis of thee’ to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen‘, but what do theContinue reading “‘Cry God for Queen Bess, England and St Cuthbert….!’ How did George become England’s Patron Saint? “

Welsh Bards & Hungarian Balladeers: Imagining the Past – Poetry & History.

Wars of Independence: In 1857, the legendary martyrdom of the courtly poets of Wales by Edward I was used by the nineteenth-century Hungarian poet János Arany to serve as a parable of resistance to another Empire after the ‘heroic’ uprising and war of independence of 1848-49 in his native country. Arany’s poem, Walesi bardok (The Bards ofContinue reading “Welsh Bards & Hungarian Balladeers: Imagining the Past – Poetry & History.”

The Mysterious Magyar Origins of Margaret of Wessex, Hungary and Scotland

As all Scots know, 30th November is St Andrew’s Day, their ‘patron saint’. However, few people in Scotland, England and Hungary will know that the 17th November is the day when the Church commemorates the saint who links all three countries. Margaret was born in Hungary, the daughter of the exiled rightful heir to theContinue reading “The Mysterious Magyar Origins of Margaret of Wessex, Hungary and Scotland”

The Putney Debates, the Second Civil War & the Newport Treaty: Oct 1647 – Oct 1648; Levellers, Engagers & Insurgents.

An ‘Outbreak of Democracy’?: In his 1961 work on The Levellers and the English Revolution, H N Brailsford wrote that: … there has been nothing like this spontaneous outbreak of democracy in any English or continental army before this year of 1647, nor was there anything like it thereafter till the Workers’ and Soldiers’ CouncilsContinue reading “The Putney Debates, the Second Civil War & the Newport Treaty: Oct 1647 – Oct 1648; Levellers, Engagers & Insurgents.”