Thursday 2 May 2013

Tolkien Transactions XXXVI

April 2013

May it is — and on the first of May I noticed a green tinge to the forest of brown deciderous trees I drive through on my way to work. It is also the first anniversary of Oloris Publishing, for which congratulations are in order — but don't spend too much time in celebration: it is better spent getting that book of Jenny Dolfen's art out to us! ;-)

This month it has suited my purposes to sort the contents under the following headlines:
1: News
2: Essays and Scholarship
3: Commentary
4: Reviews and Book News
5: Interviews
6: Tolkienian Artwork
7: Other Stuff
8: The Roman Ring on exhibition at the Vyne
9: In Print
10: Web Sites
11: Sources

= = = = News = = = =

Graham Young, Birmingham Mail, Friday, 29 March 2013, ‘Sarehole Mill makes bread for the first time in a century’
In the rush to finish things last month, I seem to have forgotten this piece of news about the restoration of Sarehole Mill — a part of the inspiration for Tolkien's Shire. Now that the mill has been restored, we can go there for a trip to the real Middle-earth.

Bodleian Library, Tuesday, 3 April 2013, ‘EXHIBITION: Magical Books - From the Middle Ages to Middle-Earth’
About the summer exhibition at the Bodleian Library where visitors can see a number of manuscripts, illustrations and other artefacts relating to the so-called ‘Oxford School’ of authors of children's literature, besides Tolkien also C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, and Philip Pullman. The events associated with the exhibition are also highly interesting — not least with Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur coming out shortly.

University of St. Andrews, Friday, 12 April 2013, ‘600 trees for 600 years’,217360,en.php
The six hundreth anniversary of St. Andrews, where Tolkien gave his seminal Andrew Lang lecture ‘On Fairy-stories’ on 8 March 1939, this year celebrates its six-hundredth anniversary, which is celebrated, among other things, by planting 600 trees, on the last of which is a plaque with a Tolkien quotation. Tolkien would, I am sure, have approved of this way of celebrating the University and appreciated the use of the two lines from Bilbo's poem about the Dúnadan.

Mythopoeic Society, Thursday, 18 April 2013, ‘Mythcon 44 Progress Report 2 Available’
Various information about the 44th Mythcon, including the intriguing titles of some of the items on the programme: ‘A Linguistic Exploration through Tolkien's Earliest Landscapes,’ "Westmansweed to Old Toby: The Economic and Cultural Herblore of Pipe-weed in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings," ‘Children Rolling on a Hill with a Lion: A New Look at the Origin of Aslan,’ "The Musical Heart of the Lands of Narnia and Middle-earth," and ‘Witches in the Wild: Old Women on the Boundaries.’ I would look forward to these if I could attend ...

David Powell, Daily Post, Friday, 19 April 2013, ‘Teacher had rare access to the private papers of author JRR Tolkien’
Is it very ungrateful of me to wish that the journalist had spent more space describing the actual contents of the thesis of Dr. Sara Brown beyond the title, ‘From Abjection to Alchemy: Tolkien’s Middle Earth Legendarium’ and the fact that she is "particularly interested in issues of gender in the books"? It is, of course, interesting enough that she was allowed access to the Tolkien papers at the Bodleian (showing that the Tolkien Estate isn't quite as restrictive as some would have it), though it would be nice to know what she found there (besides a nearly illegible note on Gandalf), but it is less interesting that she (or perhaps rather the journalist?) falsely attributes a quotation about dreams to Tolkien.

Paul Cole, Birmingham Mail, Saturday, 27 April 2013, ‘Tolkien's Hobbit to be first book on library shelf’
The Brummies have a wonderful new library, and the very first book to be shelved there will be The Hobbit — so chosen by the readers in an internet vote.

= = = = Essays and Scholarship = = = =

Terri Windling, 2002, ‘On Tolkien and Fairy Stories’
An old essay about fairy stories — about Tolkien and his fairy stories and about the author and her story and her fairy stories. Very much worth reading if you haven't come across it before.

MB, Saturday, 6 April 2013, ‘'Little by little, one travels far' is not a J.R.R. Tolkien quote.’
Let us just repeat that with some emphasis: ‘Little by little, one travels far’ is NOT a J.R.R. Tolkien quotation! It is a TThnsdwohatdw — Things (J.R.R.) Tolkien has never said, done, written or had anything to do with.

JDR, Sunday, 7 April 2013, ‘Tolkien and the Elephant’
A nice little anecdote (possibly apocryphal, though see Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull's comment) about Tolkien's methods in raising his children. At the very least it is (at least in my opinion) far better than the references to small starving children in Africa that were prevalent in my childhood — better a scare that isn't really scaring than an attempt to make your children feel guilty for things completely outside their control.

James Doig, Wormwoodiana, Monday, 15 April 2013, ‘Dreams, Ghosts and Fairies’
A very interesting article: a copy of a 1923 article in ‘The Bookman’ about ghost stories (and, mostly by association, fairy-stories and dream-stories). While I do not know if he could have seen this article, nor if he read any of the works mentioned or authors cited, I still think that this article presents a fairly good view of contemporary literary views on these stories of the fantastic — a part of the ‘leaf-mould’ in the sense of portraying the views in the society surrounding Tolkien in the period when he was working on the poetic version of his mythology that we know from ‘The Lays of Beleriand’.
Notice particularly Miss Marie Corelli's answer to quetion 2: I cannot help but think that there are certain aspects of her position that find some echoes in Tolkien's later (1939) lecture ‘On Fairy-stories’, such as the idea of the ‘escape from the humdrum surroundings of everyday living’, but also I think that there are some parallels between her (here undeveloped) idea of the Unseen and Tolkien's far more elaborate and considered ideas of Faërie.

MB, Wednesday, 24 April 2013, "Not a Tolkien quote: ‘A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities."’
In his on-going series about ‘Things Tolkien never said, done, written or had anything to do with’ Marcel has reached the invention of a clever copywriter who was NOT J.R.R. Tolkien!

= = = = Commentary = = = =

HR, April 2013, ‘Teaching Tolkien’
It would appear that I, last month, included some of the progress for the first week of April when saying how far the class had reached — the viewing of the first hour of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the King was actually in April. Early April also saw class reacting to the internet following that they are gaining:
The Tolkien community has always been very interested in hearing about first encounters — people sharing their thoughts about their first reading of Tolkien's books (and particularly The Lord of the Rings) will always find an eager audience, and here we have not only a crowd of them, but a young crowd whose reactions are mediated by a committed teacher (and promoted by Jason Fisher, a leading Tolkienist): no wonder that they attract a large crowd of eager readers, and it is richly deserved!
The journey continues through Bree (inspiring thoughts on what makes a hero / heroine), and the students faces challenges as school prepares for the mandatory tests as they move on to Rivendell and book 2 (now getting to think about what makes a villain), and in the final days to the close of the Council of Elrond on a ‘Perfect Day’.
The journey also encompasses other activities than reading The Lord of the Rings — one such activity this month was musical in nature and allowed the student a different kind of outlet for their reactions to Tolkien's powerful story: the magic of words cannot be denied!

HG, Wednesday, 3 April 2013, ‘Tolkien in Cromer’
Henry Gee, resident of Cromer in Norfolk, has been encouraged by Marcel Aubron-Bülles to come up with a theory for what it was about Cromer that inspired Tolkien. The background is that the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull for ‘later in 1914’ mentions that Tolkien visited Cromer in Norfolk combined with a running joke that any place that Tolkien can be documented to have been within 20 miles of will make a claim to have inspired something essential. The post is an ironical comment to the many spurious claims to a connection to Tolkien's sub-creation that we encounter on a regular basis — just remember to be VERY sceptical: it is not up to you or me to DISprove anything; it is up to the claimant to prove their claims beyond reasonable doubt.

H&S, Friday, 19 April 2013, ‘Tolkien Notes 6’
The sixth in the series of notes on Tolkien subjects by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond. This time with a note about a musical adaptation of Farmer Giles of Ham; about the first publication of Tolkien's poems Tinfang Warble and The Grey Bridge of Tavrobel; about further addenda and corrigenda to the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide (dated 19 April); about one Ernest Rasdall; and with a cautionary review of the 3-Minute J.R.R. Tolkien.

BC, Tuesday, 23 April 2013, ‘Words versus pictures - Tolkien versus Lewis’
A very interesting idea concerning the different mental origins of the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis respectively. Charlton suggests that Tolkien's stories were founded in words — and perhaps particularly word history — while Lewis' stories were founded more in mental pictures, stills or tableaux that Lewis then tried to connect in narrative. A presentation at the length of a (shortish) blog entry will inevitably look at the principal lines, the zeroeth order effects, ignoring the exceptions and various other ‘first- and second-order’ effects, but I think it is an idea that it might be worth looking into in some more detail (insofar as that is at all possible with the present body of evidence).

Arman J. Partamian, Tuesday, 23 April 2013, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien and the Catholic Imagination’
In addition to recognizing that ‘Tolkien was a genius’ (which obviously predisposes me favourably to him), the author of this blog entry acknowledges that ‘was a big factor in [his] conversion to Catholicism,’ which may account for the air of allegorical reading that is the only thing I think really mars this piece (e.g. writing that ‘Frodo and Sam’s spiritual journey is fundamentally a Christian pilgrimage’ is putting it just that little bit stronger and more allegorically than I think is justified). Ignoring the allegorical definitives, however, I think there is something interesting to gather from this — not least the acknowledgement that Tolkien made a work which can be enjoyed fully regardless of the reader's religious creed.

BC, Wednesday, 24 April 2013, ‘What is communicating in dreams? Self, divine, demonic?’
I'll admit that I have some problems accepting the basic premises of this discussion, mainly the idea that the dream-process described in The Notion Club Papers was autobiographical (at least to the extent suggested by Charlton). If, however, we ignore that issue and think only of dreams within Tolkien's literary work, I think that the question of the sources of these dreams is quite interesting.

‘Demosthenes’, Thursday, 25 April 2013, ‘Why inconsistency in Tolkien's canon is actually a good thing’
While I agree with the author here that complete consistency within Tolkien writings (even when we limit ourselves only to the legendarium — a subset of the Tolkien canon), and I can concede that the layering of inconsistent versions can in some cases add to the verisimilitude, I still think the author is not quite right. First I think he misses the worst effect of the whole search for consistency: that it is advocating a misrepresentation of Tolkien's actual conception. Secondly there is the problem that Tolkien actually seems to have desired such consistency, even if it would appear that he was fundamentally incapable of ever reaching it (even if you look only within LotR). All in all I think the author fails to understand or respect (or possibly both) Tolkien's relation to his legendarium, and because of this he still propounds a view of the legendarium that misrepresents Tolkien's own conception.

Sara M. Harvey, Friday, 26 April 2013, ‘The Missing Literary Link: Tolkien, Language, and Forgotten Myths’
I had an internal debate about whether or not to add this. It is one of these pieces that mainly sets out to inform, and which gets its facts almost right — but just almost (the Rohirrim, for instance, aren't exactly Mercians with horses, but they do speak something close to Old Mercian ... almost), and sometimes, by missing by hair's breadth, goes flying wide. Going through this piece and correcting all the minor errors would take a bit of effort, and I shan't do that, so if you do read it, please don't accept anything that you cannot verify elsewhere (and not on the internet except on the site of a respected Tolkien scholar — Scull & Hammond, Garth, Rateliff, Fisher ...).

Il, Saturday, 27 April 2013, ‘Reading The Hobbit: Barrels out of Bond or Parenting Dwarves’
Ilverai is back at reading The Hobbit, this month putting Dwarves into barrels and seeing them arrive in Lake Town. Seeing Bilbo's protection and saving of the Dwarves as a parenting act allows Ilverai to comment intelligently on what quickly becomes a clever little play with roles between the narrator, the child audience, and their primary identification figure, Bilbo.

JF, Monday, 29 April 2013, ‘Another analog to the Doors of Durin’
Jason Fisher has found another example of artwork that has some resemblance to Tolkien's drawing of the west-door of Moria, this time on the cover of a 1930 book by Charles Williams (albeit printed in only 300 copies). While lacking trees, anvil, stars, and inscription, this version does sport a crown, and it is of course quite close to home. Fisher doesn't suggest that the image is a source for Tolkien's envisioning / drawing, and I think the main problem in such a claim would rather be to rule out all other possible sources of similar likelihood.

= = = = Reviews and Book News = = = =

John Garth, ‘JRR Tolkien Encyclopedia and JRR Tolkien Companion and Guide reviewed by John Garth’
In essence a copy of John Garth's December 2006 review for the Times Literary Supplement of the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia by Michael Drout (ed) and The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond, but updated. Putting these two books together highlights their individual natures and how they complement each other rather than trying to cover the same (though there is necessarily some overlap).

John Garth, Oxford Today, Monday, 25 march 2013, ‘Book of the week: _There and Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit_’
Mark Atherton's book on the sources of The Hobbit, There and Back Again, was reviewed in March by John Garth, but somehow this failed to appear on my radar until April. Garth is overall very positive about Atherton's book (while not blind to its loose ends), which only makes me more eager to return to that particular journey (which is sitting on my bookshelf as I write, only begun, but with a promising beginning).

John Garth, Saturday, 6 April 2013, ‘Review: _The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary_’
John Garth has put on his own web-site his, now otherwise hard-to-find, review of Gilliver, Marshall and Weiner's The Ring of Words. Garth lays out the contents of the book, and though he might have preferred something a little longer at some points, he is nonetheless positive towards it.

Oloris Publishing, Sunday, 7 April 2013, ‘Medium Rare and Back Again: Oloris Publishing and Heath Dill embark on a culinary journey to Middle-earth’
If Denmark is anything to judge by, there seems to be a large market for themed cookbooks, so it would seem that Heath Dill and Oloris Publishing are on to something here with a book of recipes inspired by Tolkien's Middle-earth ... and of the fandom surrounding this as with the ‘Smoky Shadow and Flame Wings’.

MB, Tuesday, 9 April 2013, ‘Calls for Paper: Baptism of Fire: The Birth of Modern British Fantasy in World War I/ Women in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien’
If you feel that you have a paper waiting to get out on either ‘The Birth of Modern British Fantasy in World War I’ or about ‘Women in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien’ now is the chance to write up an abstract and send it in for possible publication in one of these books, both to be edited by Janet Brennan Croft (Tolkienist and editor of Mythlore, the more academic journal of the Mythopoeic Society), the latter in colaboration with Leslie Donovan (also one of the officers of the Mythopoeic Society).

Oloris Publishing, Thursday, 11 April 2013, ‘Announcing David Rowe's 'The Proverbs of Middle-earth'’
David Rowe has, for the last couple of years (at least) been tweeting proverbs (and phrases have the ‘ring’ of a proverb) gathered from Tolkien's writings from his Twitter account @TolkienProverbs, and he has also a website dedicated to this topic (see under websites). Now there is a book coming out from Oloris Publishing, which promises ‘an in-depth exploration of the wisdom traditions of Middle-earth, investigating the degree to which Tolkien’s proverbs not only delight and instruct, but also bring revelatory ‘inner reality’ to his created world.’

Walking Tree Publishers, Tuesday, 16 April 2013, ‘Call for papers 'Humour in and around the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien'’
If you have anything to say about the use of humour ‘in and around’ Tolkien's works, this may be your chance. The book is planned to be published in 2014 (edited, I guess, by Tolkien scholars Thomas Honegger and Maureen Mann), and will be the first book-length investigation of the topic of humour in relation to Tolkien. Though the call invites papers also on fan-fiction, parodies and other works that relate explicitly to Tolkien's work, I hope the main focus will be on Tolkien's own use of humour.

Aniruddha, Friday, 19 April 2013, ‘The Bengali (DUI MINAR): Illustrated translation of Tolkien's 'The Two Towers'’
On the publication of the illustrated Bengali translation of Two Towers.

MT, Monday, 22 April 2013, ‘Father Francis Morgan, Tolkien, and Spain’
Morgan Thomsen reviews La Conexión Española de J.R.R. Tolkien: El "Tío Curro" by José Manuel Ferrández Bru — a book focusing on Father Francis Morgan, the guardian of the brothers Hilary and J.R.R. Tolkien after the death of their mother, Mabel, and how Tolkien, through Fr. Francis, is connected to Spain. I very much share Morgan Thomsen's hope that the book will soon translated into English and thus made available to a larger audience (I have even considered buying the Spanish edition and using it to re-aquaint myself with Spanish, but I fear that it will prove too time-consuming to be practical).

Tolkienseminariet, Tuesday, 23 April 2013, ‘7 mars 2013 — omlokaliserat’
In Swedish. A report from the 7 March meeting of the Tolkien seminar in Stockholm. The three participants used the evening to look through a ‘record large hill of books’, mostly from 2012. The minutes mostly consist of a list of the books with some brief review notes, not unlike the well-known ‘'The Year's Work in Tolkien Studies’ overview articles in Tolkien Studies. Highly recommendable for anyone with enough command of the Scandinavian tongues to read it.

= = = = Interviews = = = =

PC, Thursday, 11 April 2013, ‘Interview with Mark Atherton, author of There and Back Again: J R R Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit’
Pieter Collier has interviewed Mark Atherton about his recent book, about Tolkien in general, and about his background. It is very interesting to read about some of Atherton's thoughts that lie behind his choices in the book. I have still myself to finish Atherton's book, but I've read the first couple of chapters and these are very good.

Steve ‘Rifflo’ Fitch, Tuesday, 16 April 2013, ‘EXCLUSIVE: From Middle-Earth With John Howe’
A long and interesting interview with John Howe talking about his inspirations, how he came to work with Tolkien's works, his colaboration (and friendship) with Alan Lee, and of course his work on the Peter Jackson films.

Afternoon show, Wednesday, 17 April 2013, ‘Peter Kenny - Australia's biggest Tolkien fan’
An interview with Peter Kenny, also known by his hobbit name, Fortinbras Proudfoot, Esq., particularly about his participation at the Supernova Pop Culture Expo, where he, with Fortinbras Proudfoot Esquire Foundation, was in the Artists' Alley just next to the Doctor Who Club of Australia.

= = = = Tolkienian Artwork = = = =

A couple of artists doing Tolkien-inspired art:

Abe Papakhian:
And his ‘LOTR’ gallery:
Papakhian's pictures are kept in quite realistic style, but I think that there is, at times, something slightly odd about the proportions. This kind of artistic line also, in my opinion, invites a comparison with the text — I know one shouldn't do that, but I cannot help myself, in particular with artists striving for a realistic portrayal, but I will refrain from pointing out Abe Papakhian's errors (the careful attention to the details of the text is one of the things that make me like Jenny Dolfen's art very, very much). I do very much like his portrayal of Gríma Wormtongue, though.

Ulla Thynell:
And her ‘Middle-earth’ gallery:
A set of charming pictures in a less realistic style than the above, but also, at least in my opinion, more appropriate as illustrations of Tolkien's text as distinguished from pieces of art inspired by Tolkien's text — the two do not necessarily accompany each other, and the former also requires a greater attention to the details of the text.

Various, April 2013, ‘The Fortunate Isles’
The theme this month on John Howe's fan art pages is ‘The Fortunate Isles’. There is a couple of pictures of Tol Galen, and a couple more (Champs Élysées and Hy Breasail) that one might imaginatively connect with Tolkien's work, but nothing else that connects to Tolkien's work. I admit that seeing the theme, I had hoped for envisionings of Númenórë in its glory under the early kings — the most fortunate of all mortal isles, or of Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle (possibly using the imaginary setting of The Book of Lost Tales to link it to Britain).

Brian Sibley, Saturday, 20 April 2013, ‘Drawn to the Rings’
About the art of Eric Fraser, and particularly about Eric Fraser's Tolkien-related cover art for 7 March 1981 issue The Radio Times, the original of which Sibley managed to secure for himself.

JD, Friday, 26 April 2013, ‘Print Sale!’
Special (cheap) price on all prints of Dolfen's work. If you haven't bought a print yet, you might want to consider doing so!

Brian Sibley, Sunday, 28 April 2013, ‘The Return of the Ring’
No, not about Sibley's appearance at the Tolkien Society conference last summer, but about the drawing of Frodo that Robin Jacques made for The Radio Times of Frodo examining the Master Ring, the original of which Brian Sibley also managed to buy (and also introducing a few other drawings by Robin Jacques).

= = = = Other Stuff = = = =

talelmarhazad, Tuesday, 9 April 2013, ‘When Elrond Was Kinder Than Christmas’
The Grey Havens group have had a visit by Kris Swank (who gave a presentation on the relationships between The Hobbit and the letters from Father Christmas at the recent conference in Valparaiso) who spoke about Tolkien's Letters From Father Christmas.

badgaladriel, Wednesday, 10 April 2013, ‘The Professor and the Doctor: The Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who as Mythology’
Some comments on The Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who as seen as mythology. Though I cannot walk the whole nine yards with the author, she has none the less some interesting points to make.

MM, Monday, 15 April 2013, ‘The End of Our Fellowship in Middle-earth’
Michael Martinez has, for almost two years, been reproducing old essays on his blog every Monday while filling up the other days with shorter answers to various queries by readers. Having reached the end of the list of essays, he appears to find it too time-consuming to continue blogging on Tolkien-related matters. Though I haven't been reporting them all, I have generally enjoyed Michael's essays — one is likely to learn more and develop more from reading something that is not just a repetition of things one already knows or holds as true. Michael Martinez has in many ways meant a lot to my own development as a Tolkienist, for which I am grateful to him.

Lynn Maudlin, Mythopoeic Society, Monday, 15 April 2013, ‘Why Join the Society?’
Highlighting the publications, the conferences, the awards, the community and the cause, this is an excellent list of the reasons to join the Mythopoeic Society. Though I have still to be able to come to the U.S. for a MythCon, it is my dream to one day be able to do so.
Since the two societies are not really competing, but rather often collaborate, I feel justified in also mentioning the Tolkien Society, which has the advantage of conferences that are usually more accessible for someone in Europe:
In both cases I would stress the community of amiable and intelligent Tolkienists as the first benefit and the journals as the second — and I would say that it is a good thing to have access to both communities and both sets of journals, so feel free to join both societies.

Clara Finley, Friday, 12 April 2013, ‘The Morrisian Interview Series, #2: John J. Walsdorf’
Amid a longish interview about the collecting of (non-Tolkienian) books is a charming anecdote of a young man, working in the Oxford City Library on exchange from the U.S., sending his copy of The Hobbit to Tolkien for inscription, and getting it hand-delivered back to him by the author with a letter of appreciation. The anecdote is given fairly early on in the interview.

Multiple, The Vermont Cynic, Thursday, 18 April 2013, ‘Gratitude for Tolkien’
A letter of appreciation of Chris Vaccaro's work in organizing the annual ‘Tolkien at the University of Vermont’ conference.

MB, Friday, 26 April 2013, ‘International Tolkien Seminar this weekend in Aachen, Germany’
Advocating this event, held by the German Tolkien Society in cooperation with Walking Tree Publishers and the English & Romance Studies Department of RWTH Aachen University. See also the university's event description:

= = = = The Roman Ring = = = =

National Trust, The Vyne, April 2013, ‘Curse, legend and inspiration at the Vyne’
and Wednesday, 3 April 2013, ‘Tolkien inspiration at The Vyne’
The display, at The Vyne, of a Roman gold ring probably connected to the curse tablets found at the Roman temple in Lydney Park (through a reapparing name) has sparked a flood of articles. The mention of a name both on this ring and on a curse tablet found in the temple makes archaeologists believe that this is the very ring that whose thief is cursed on the tablet. Tolkien wrote his article ‘On the Name Nodens’ for the archaeologist R.E.M. Wheeler's report on the Lydney dig site, and the ring is not mentioned at all in the report, nor in any of Tolkien's writings on this. The connection between the ring on display and the evil Master Ring of Tolkien's LotR is thus only made by a flimsy web of guesswork and extrapolations. Still, this has not stopped the press from writing about it ...
For a little background on Tolkien and the Lydney Park site, you might want to read this:
BBC, January 2004, ‘Tolkien's tales from Lydney Park’

And then for more recent comments inspired by news on the exhibition at The Vyne. First, however, to set things straight, I'll give the word to
Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond, Tuesday, 9 April 2013, ‘Tolkien and Nodens in the news this morning’
So, before we continue to all the misinformation, you need to keep in mind that despite the presentation, it is very unlikely that Tolkien ever visited Lydney Park excavations, and there is no reason (no rational reason, at least) to believe that this Roman ring inspired anything in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.

First a couple of blog posts by historians on this topic:
Mathew Lyons, Wednesday, 3 April 2013, ‘History and myth: JRR Tolkien, a Roman temple and a ring’
Note that Lyon alleges that Tolkien visited the Lydney site, a claim which the evidence does not support — the evidence rather suggests that Tolkien did not visit the site at all and that all his dealings with Wheeler were formal and professional rather than friendly.
The History Blog, Wednesday, 3 April 2013, ‘The Roman Preciousss on display at The Vyne’

and then on to a few of the news-stories this has produced ...
The Guardian, 2 April, ‘The Hobbit ring that may have inspired Tolkien put on show’
International Business Times, 2 April, ‘Lord of the Rings: ‘Cursed’ Roman Ring that Inspired Tolkien's Hobbit Books Discovered in 16th Century Country House’
Yahoo Movies, 2 April, ‘Is this the ring that inspired Tolkien and The Hobbit?’
Metro, 2 April, ‘Was this cursed Roman ring JRR Tolkien's inspiration for The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings?’
Sky News, 2 April, ‘Tolkien ‘Inspiration’ Ring Goes On Display’
The Telegraph, 2 April, ‘The Hobbit: ring that inspired Tolkien goes on display’
The Express, 2 April, ‘Ring that ‘inspired’ JRR Tolkien to write The Hobbit goes on display’
Fox News, 2 April, ‘Ring that may have inspired Tolkien goes on show’
Los Angeles Times, 2 April, ‘'Cursed' Roman ring may be Tolkien's 'ring to rule them all'’,0,4756806.story
CBS News, 2 April, "Roman ring that ‘inspired Tolkien’ goes on show"
Albany Times Union, 2 April, ‘Ring that ‘inspired Tolkien’ goes on show’
The Mirror, 3 April, ‘JRR Tolkien: Ancient gold ring believed to have inspired The Hobbit goes on show’
UPI, 3 April, ‘Gold ring linked to Tolkien on display’
National Post, 3 April, ‘Did this ring inspire J.R.R. Tolkien's ‘precious'? 'Cursed’ gold ring goes on display in U.K’
MSN, 3 April, ‘Is this J.R.R. Tolkien's real-life 'one ring to rule them all'?’
Lancashire Evening Post, 3 April, ‘Odd stories - Exhibition of JRR Tolkien ‘Hobbit’ ring’
The Register, 3 April, ‘ANCIENT CURSED RING known to TOLKIEN goes on display’
TheOneRing.Net, 3 April, ‘Ancient gold ring which may have inspired Tolkien’ (Even TORN jumps on this regrettable band-wagon ... )
Huffington Post, 4 April, ‘JRR Tolkien ‘One Ring’ Inspiration For ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Goes On Display At The Vyne’
3 News, 5 April, ‘Ancient ring believed to be Tolkien's inspiration’
Anglotopia, 5 April, ‘Ancient Roman Ring That May Have Inspired Tolkien On Display Now in Hampshire’
Big Pond News, 5 April, ‘Roman ring leads to Tolkien's trilogy’ (Honestly! I find this headline more distressing than most.)
NPR, 8 April, ‘J.R.R. Tolkien's Ring On Display At Estate's Exhibit’

= = = = In Print = = = =

Beyond Bree, April 2013
In addition to the usual columns, lists, letters, poems, and news articles, this issue of BB sports interesting pieces on the artist Mary Fairburn by Daniel Smith and by Jim Allan on Ohlmark's comments (and Tolkien's reaction) in the Swedish translation (though I think that Allan would have benefitted from working with someone with the Swedish original rather than trusting exclusively to Tolkien's translation). Sultana Raza has an, in my frank opinion rather odd, piece on Tolkien and trees, while Nancy Martsch writes with usual insight about the Finnish 9-episode of The Lord of the Rings, and both John Rateliff and Rev. John Houghton contributes reports from the Tolkien conference in Valparaiso (for Rateliff's blog-reports, see the transactions for last month).

Amon Hen no.240, March 2013
The Tolkien Society announces its AGM (held in April) and the Seminar in July (topic: Tolkien's Landscapes — a call for papers is included). For the AGM there was only one person standing for each position, and so we can welcome and congratulate the new Committee (many of whom are re-elected), and of course especially the new Chairman, Shaun Gunner. Shaun was also at the gala premiere for the Hobbit film, which he enjoyed and reports from in Amon Hen, just as Alex Lewis reports from his participation in the Czech TolkienCon. Obituaries for Keith Bridges and Dinah Hazell follow, after which there is a piece by Christopher Powell, which, in my opinion, falls flat: a lack of depth of perception is instead propped up by commonplaces and platitudes. There is more meat on Alex Lewis' letter in reaction to Jim Allan's letter in AH239 about copyright — while I do not agree with Lewis' interpretation of Tolkien's comment about ‘other hands and minds’, there are certainly aspects of his comments on copyright that are worth noting. Reviews follow of Robert Blackham's The JRR Tolkien Miscellany and Colin Duriez' J.R.R. Tolkien. The issue is rounded off by Christopher Kreuzer's clippings from the media (with a coverage of the British paper-borne news).

= = = = Web Sites = = = =

Proverbs of Middle-earth
About — you guessed it! — the proverbs and proverbiality found in Tolkien's writings.

Burren Tolkien Society
The Burren Tolkien Society, along with their Tolkien Festival, has recently received a some justified criticism for their completely spurious claims that features of the Irish Burren inspired anything in either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, and also for the display of dragon-sickness in requiring people to donate €50.- to be able to even bid at a (rather worn) first edition copy of Tree and Leaf with a printed autograph. I think it is very sad that they have chosen to antagonize many serious Tolkienists by their ludicrous claims and practices, as there is a lot of sound research that has been buried by this silliness. So, do not believe any claim that Tolkien's visits to Ireland (starting in the summer of 1949, when The Lord of the Rings had been finished in draft for a year) inspired anything in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, but enjoy the biographical information concerning Tolkien's other links to this area of Ireland.

= = = = Sources = = = =