Tolkien at Exeter College • 2014 • Non-fiction biography by John Garth


John Garth’s excellent investigation brings the exotic rules and habits at Oxford University of 1911 to life. He tells about interesting and funny pranks and debates which Tolkien participated in. Tolkien was such an scalawag in his undergraduate time 🙂

Lo and behold! Tolkien wrote his first couple of Middle-Earth rhymes – about Earendil the Mariner – at Exeter College, when WWI already was started. He stayed to complete his course – not to the amusement of British people.

The second half of the booklet is far less funny as it denotes the consequences of war with lots of dead fellow students.

“How an Oxford undergraduate created Middle-earth” is the subtitle of this 64 pages booklet, published by Exeter College, Oxford, and it is full of fotos, art from Tolkien, and handwritten notes. The author John Garth wrote also the fabulous biography “Tolkien and the Great War” which has a small overlap with this extended study.

The only thing I didn’t like was the binding as a booklet. I’d have much preferred a more bookish binding, like paperback which shouldn’t be beyond the paid price.

I recommend this only for real Tolkien geeks like myself. The rest of the world can surely life without any biography or with one of the well-known biographies like Humphrey Carpenter’s.

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