Saturday, January 12, 2008

Be Still My Fantasy Writer's Heart: Tolkien Papers So Close Yet So Far

Growing up in the Chicago area (and cutting my fantasy teeth on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy), I had no idea the treasure trove that existed so close to home. Turns out the original manuscripts and multiple working drafts for Tolkien's most celebrated books, The Hobbit (1937), Farmer Giles of Ham (1949), and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), as well as the original copy of the children's book Mr. Bliss (published in facsimile form in 1982) are holdings at Marquette University, a mere two hour's drive away. Be still my fantasy writer's heart.

Since our oldest returns to MU today after Christmas break, we made arrangements for the entire family to examine/admire/salivate over the collection after unloading at the dorm. Imagine our disappointment yesterday after receiving word that our appointment time would need to be rescheduled for another weekend.

Majorly bummed at this turn of events, as I admire Tolkien's skill and tenacity, and often joke that I'm on Tolkien's timeline of writing my own fantasy novel. (Word is Tolkien worked on his masterpiece 15 years before it was published.) Motivated to plan a return trip to Milwaukee soon in order to see the holdings.

Edited to add: Drove past Raynor Library (where the manuscripts are held) several times during the visit. Sigh. So close yet so far.

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