The publishing division of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library is to release a title featuring illustrations, letters and other material from J R R Tolkien’s archives that have never before been seen by the public, to coincide with a major exhibition on The Lord of the Rings author in 2018.
Tolkien: The Maker of Middle-Earth, written by the Bodleian’s Tolkien archivist Catherine McIlwaine, promises to take readers “far beyond what they know” about the author. New material to be showcased includes draft manuscripts of The Hobbit, Middle-Earth illustrations and paintings by Tolkien, and “letters from admirers including W H Auden, Joni Mitchell and Iris Murdoch”.
Samuel Fanous, the Bodleian’s head of publishing, said the aim was to create a book that accompanies an “unprecedented” exhibition, but also “to make something that will stand on its own”. The Bodleian will be selling the title in all English-language territories, while HarperCollins, Tolkien’s long-time publisher, has translation rights.
Tolkien, who was an Oxford professor for 35 years, left the bulk of his archives to the Bodleian. Additional material in the book is from Marque- tte University in Wisconsin. The exhibition on the author will open at the Bodleian in June 2018.