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Here be dragons, hobbits and elves
Image credit The Tolkien Estate Limited 1939
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth explores the full range of the author's talents, from his imaginary world of wise wizards, elegant elves and hairy-footed hobbits, to his work as an artist, linguist and poet.
J R R Tolkien's output ranges from early abstract paintings in The Book of Ishness to the brilliance of his poem Errantry and the touching tales he wrote for his four children. Original manuscripts of his popular classics are displayed along with lesser-known works and materials, some of which are on public view for the first time.
Exhibition highlights include a draft manuscript of The Hobbit and original manuscripts of The Lord of The Rings and The Silmarillion, Tolkien's earliest work on the legends of the elves, which remained unfinished during his lifetime and was later published by his son and literary executor, Christopher Tolkien. A rare map of Middle-earth, annotated by the author, is among the exhibits, which also include a specially-commissioned 3-D map of Middle-earth.
Tolkein's own manuscripts, drawings, maps and letters reveal the immense creative output which underpins the enduring success of his work. Photos and letters from his childhood and student days are displayed along with personal items including art materials and books. Tolkien spent most of his adult life in Oxford, the city where he studied, taught, researched and wrote his most famous works.
The Bodleian Libraries currently house the Tolkein Archive, which is the largest collection of original Tolkien manuscripts and drawings in the world. An illustrated book to accompany the exhibition, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth by Bodleian Library Publishing, is available to order for £40 hardback, or £25 paperback.
The exhibition runs until 28 October 2018 at the Weston Library in Oxford. Entry is free but requires a ticket, which can be booked in advance online.