The Birmingham Tolkien 2019 Programme, now online in PDF.
It was a roaring success, apparently, other than a slightly cramped venue. Sadly the event was too expensive for me, despite the relative proximity of Stoke-on-Trent to Birmingham. It would have cost at least £400 to do it properly. But it’s good to see the booklet online and giving an excellent summary with abstracts. A small selection of videos of the talks is also online at YouTube from The Tolkien Society, and others will probably filter out in due course.
For my own future reference, talks given at the event and of interest to me:
* “The Wright Stuff”, Ian Spittlehouse. The influence of Joseph Wright at Oxford. This is “the third in a series re-appraising the work of Joseph Wright and its influence on Tolkien”, so one assumes a book at some point. One might hope also for a substantial appendix that surveys all his other tutors.
* “The lost connections of Tolkien’s first map of The Lord of the Rings: Reconstruction”, Erik Mueller-Harder. Again, one of a three-part series, and one thus assumes these will become a book at some point if the rights can be obtained for the required images.
* “Rivers of flame and a great reek rising: volcanoes and the horror of the sublime in Tolkien’s Legendarium”, Sian Pehrsson. Not looking in the right places, judging by the abstract, but it sounds interesting.
* “Blessed trees? The White Trees of Gondor and the Royal Oak compared and contrasted”, Murray Smith. The author admits there’s no real evidence of a linkage, but I can see that it’s a perfectly valid comparison to make given the historical context and Tolkien’s politics.
* “Forests, Trees, Huorns, and Ents”, Johanne Tournier. Appears to be a broad survey of Tolkien’s close attention to trees in his life and work.
* “The Shape of Water in Tolkien’s Middle-earth”, Norbert Schurer. Judging by the abstract, ‘water’ is obviously too slippery and vast a topic to grasp all in one go. But the paper could be stimulating.
* Five or Six Ponies?, Jessica Yates. A small niggling problem in the text of The Lord of the Rings re: the journey to the Old Forest, and apparently now with three possible solutions. I like small puzzles like that, not least because they can often lead one on to bigger discoveries.
* A conference report mentions a study of Nodens and how Tolkien might have gone on to work elements of the lore into his Legendarium, though I don’t spot it in the programme booklet.
I see that the book Tolkien’s Library has been published and is rather chunky. The free 10% sample for Kindle readers gives the introduction and the first 90 entries (and curiously, no table-of-contents). There appears to be no dating on the entries re: when read. I assume there’s a date-ordered “book X was read in year Z (or decade Y)” table at the back, so that one can glimpse something of his intellectual progression.