Spring comes to the Shire

Morgan Feldman kicks off the fiction content with the first of the three Shire stories that are in the 25th Anniversary issue:

As the first flush of spring graced the rolling hills of the Shire, four hobbits could be seen making their way down the slopes of Hobbiton. Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took rode ahead in mail-shirts that gleamed silver and caught numerous eyes. They sang songs of merriment between bouts of laughter. Behind them rode their cousin, Frodo Baggins, whose thinning frame was hidden beneath a long grey cloak. He smiled at his neighbours as he passed, but his eyes looked distant, his gaze far away. Last came Samwise Gamgee, in simple hobbit clothes, humming a tune his gaffer had taught him long before he knew of elves or Rings or anything that lay beyond the borders of the Shire.

“Well, this seems just like old times!” Pippin said, finishing a song and reaching into his pocket for an apple. “The four of us off on an adventure!”

“Indeed.” Frodo said. “But I’ve had quite enough of adventures, I think.”

“Of the bad kind, I agree.” Merry gave his elder cousin an encouraging smile. “Have hope that there are only good ones from here! Pippin and I shall return for Sam’s wedding in May, and you shall have to find some excuse to come visit us in the summer! It’ll be your turn to get married next, dear Frodo, as you’re the oldest. Do you think you could find someone by next spring?”

Pippin hurried to swallow a mouthful of apple to add, “Really, Merry, I know our cousin is capable of exceptional deeds, but I think that task is quite beyond him!”

Frodo laughed, but didn’t reply. While Pippin’s jests were familiar, they had taken on a new tone. Once stemming from naiveté, they now seemed to veil worry, as if they were part of an act to please Frodo. Pippin had learned to control his tongue, and while Frodo admired his wit, he did not need it at his expense.

He turned his gaze to where the road led them around a slope to where the Battle of Bywater had taken place several months ago. His gaze grew distant and his face taut as he thought of all the hobbits and men who had fallen there. The others followed his gaze and fell silent as well.

After a while, Pippin shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “We ought to build a memorial here. A garden or something. To remember folk by, but also to make it less gloomy. It used to be beautiful here, remember Merry? Wasn’t this where we stopped to pick blackberries on the way to one of Bilbo’s birthday’s all those years ago?”

Merry nodded, lost in thought. To Frodo, he looked older, calmer, like a river after a great storm.

“There aren’t any blackberries now.” Sam frowned and scratched his head. “Nor any berries that I can see. But we’ll plant some as a start. I sprinkled a bit of that elven dust up on that hill there so hopefully something good will come of it.”

“It certainly will,” Merry said. “To think, we’ll have elven trees here in the Shire! Just wait until next spring—after this mess is fixed up, the land will be more splendid than ever.”

“I sure do hope so, Master Merry,” Sam muttered.

Frodo nodded his agreement and rode forward in silence. It was strange to think that this time, a year ago, he had been farther from home than ever before, that he had given up hope of ever returning. And yet here he was, with his friends at his side, riding as if nothing had changed.

But it had. The land had been mauled, broken and drained. Homes had been destroyed, rivers ruined. Worst of all, blood had been spilt in the Shire. That, Frodo believed, would take far longer to mend than Saruman’s scourging of the land.
“Well, Sam,” Pippin’s voice broke Frodo from his thoughts. “This is where we part ways.”

Frodo looked up and saw his pony leading him to where the four farthing stone shot up from a patch of wildflowers between perpendicular paths.

“Right,” said Sam. His face took on a look of determination as he pulled a small box from his pocket. “There’s something I want to do first.”

The others sat in their saddles, waiting patiently as they watched their friend trudge through the dirt path to the base of the stone. Merry and Pippin rubbed their arms, whistling fragments of old walking tunes. Frodo pulled his cloak tighter around him
A cool wind was rising, rocking the branches in great waves. Frodo kept his eyes on Sam, noticing one more how little his dear friend seemed to have changed. Standing there at the foot of the stone in a loose vest and faded trousers, Sam seemed such an ordinary hobbit, it was hard to imagine he had ever left the Shire. Yet he had. He had faced more pain and torment than any soul should ever have to face, done more for middle-earth than any hero of ancient songs or tale, and yet here he was standing in the centre of the Shire as if he had never left. Frodo could not help but marvel at the thought.

It seemed a long while Sam stood there, staring at the box, before he dumped the contents into his hand and cast them into the air, causing a shower of grey dust to scatter in the breeze.

Merry and Pippin cheered and Frodo clapped alongside them. Sam gave a sharp nod as if affirming something to himself before turning back to the others.

Frodo could not help but smile. Merry was right, the Shire would heal and flourish. Flowers would sprout from the barren fields and vines would cover felled trees and scarred trenches. It would be different, but just as beautiful. And his friends would be there to appreciate it.

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Raymond Edwards’ “Tolkien” – A Review

Eleanor Simmons, Society Lembas Rep (as well as Secretary 2009-10 and Publicity Officer 2013-15, and Society Hero), reviews for us the new biography of Tolkien by Raymond Edwards.

Tolkien - Raymond Edwards

Tolkien, by Raymond Edwards (Hale Books, September 2014, ISBN 978-0719809866)

If you were asked to imagine a perfect biographer of Tolkien, a Catholic, Oxford-trained philologist would surely be high on the list. The parts of Tolkien’s daily life which Humphrey Carpenter characterised as ‘dull’ and lacking interest are fascinating for Edwards for their own sake. He treats Tolkien’s academic career, faculty politics, syllabus reform campaigns and all, with just as much care and interest as the professor’s imaginative life – indeed, the difficulty is getting Edwards to stop discussing thorny issues of academic politics.

His approach will satisfy detail-oriented readers who prefer to know the complete facts behind the different aspects of Tolkien’s life – or as completely as they can be constructed. This is the great advantage that this book has over Carpenter’s Biography. The latter gives a highly readable overview, but the task Carpenter set himself, and the conditions he was working in led to him summarising events, and eliding whole years of Tolkien’s life, sacrificing detail for overall clarity. Edwards’ painstaking, academic approach, together with the wealth of secondary resources he has access to gives him the chance to give readers a much fuller understanding of incidents, events and the ways that life and myths fit together. His background – as a philologist and as a Catholic gives him sympathy and understanding of his subject – he is particularly alive to nuances of the anti-Catholic prejudice that affected Tolkien, for instance, and manages the rare feat of relating Tolkien’s works to his religion without being overly reductionist.

Edwards’ desire to give events their full context does sometimes combine with his idiosyncratic style in unfortunate ways, leading to passages such as a long and unnecessary explanation of the origins of the First Word War, among other oddities. The curse of the academic who longs to put everything into complete context!

Raymond Edwards writes of Tolkien’s life with an odd sense of poignancy, as though despite Tolkien’s robust, active and fruitful life, which encompassed successes both hoped for and undreamed of, there was still something lacking. He never wrote the great scholarly Edition that the academic community had hoped of him since the 1920s, and nor was he able to finish a publishable Silmarillion, with full narratives of the four Great Tales. From the student who, upon transferring to the English Faculty, procrastinated from his studies of Old Norse with Finnish and medieval Welsh to the rich old man whose retirement meant – theoretically – that he would have ample time to devote to writing, his output was halting and took great pain and effort.

There were various unfortunate factors at work that meant that Tolkien’s academic career, although distinguished, never quite reached the dizzying heights of research that had been hoped of him. The combination of his own perfectionist yet easily distractible temperament with the fact that for most of his career he had, at minimum, the responsibilities of two full-time jobs in the English Faculty – to say nothing of the extra work he took on due to financial pressures, such as the exam-marking from which the first ‘In a hole in the ground’ sprung into being.

The book is particularly engaging when discussing CS Lewis and the Inklings. The wealth of material published on the group perhaps makes this an easier thread to trace than most, but Edwards does have the benefit of access to the same Oxford communities whose later paths were very much influenced by the group. He follows the path of Tolkien and Lewis’s friendship with sympathy and insight, from the first meeting (after which Lewis recorded in his diary “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so”), through their joint battles to reform the English syllabus at Oxford, Lewis’s conversion and emergence as a popular religious writer and the gradual divergence of their paths. Tolkien disagreed with fundamental aspects of Lewis’ theology, and what he saw as an insidious anti-Catholic bias. He could find little positive to say about Lewis’ published works; an attitude that the latter, who had moved mountains to encourage Tolkien’s own literary output (it would not be unreasonable to say that without him Lord of the Rings would never have been finished) was sincerely hurt by.

On Lord of the Rings and the Legendarium, the author is both meticulous and understanding. He takes care to identify and comment on Tolkien’s influences and sources where appropriate, and to set out the writing process clearly. I particularly appreciated Edwards’ discussion of Tolkien’s early vision of ‘filling in the prehistory’ and seeing oddities in the works he studied as remnants of an earlier, greater story.

Humphrey Carpenter was an experienced biographer when he wrote his life of Tolkien, working with all of Tolkien’s life within living memory, and the full cooperation of his friends and family. Raymond Edwards, however, has the advantage of greater distance, and his work often benefits from it. Without access to the letters and private papers still unavailable in the Bodleian, this is the fullest and broadest account of Tolkien’s life that can be written. If there are aspects I would wish for more of – Edith in later life, for instance – or less of (certainly I think readers’ tolerance for bizarre parentheses will vary), this is nevertheless an excellent account, which really understands, and is able to communicate, Tolkien’s work and passion.

Hale Books, the publishers, has kindly offered a discount on this book to Society members who purchase this book through their website. If you’re a member of the Society and would like the discount code, please contact us and we’ll give you it!

Translations from the Anglo-Saxon

Eleanor Simmons, Society Lembas Rep (as well as Secretary 2009-10 and Publicity Officer 2013-15, and Society Hero), uses her linguistic skills to bring us her renderings of two Old English poems.

As anyone familiar with the original poems will note, these are neither wholly literal translations and nor do they pretend to more Anglo-Saxon than fairly loose alliteration – but this too shall pass.

Deor

Noble Weyland knew pain and exile
Beset by snakes and beleaguered with hardship
Sorrow and longing and the winds of winter
These were his sole companions,
After Niðhad set the hero in cruel bonds.
But that has passed. This too shall pass.

It was her own fate, not the fall of her brothers
That deepened Beadohild’s despair.
She knew without a doubt she was pregnant
And there was no escape
This too shall pass.

Who has not heard of Mæðhilde’s mourning?
The long grief of the lady of the Geats
So sorrowful a love that robbed her of sleep
But that has passed.

For thirty winters Theodric ruled
The men of the Maerings, as many can tell
But that has passed.

Eormanric’s wolfish thoughts were revealed
As he ruled the Goths, a savage king.
How many warriors sat, mired in misery
Wishing only that the kingdom be overthrown?
But that has passed.

A man sits bleakly, bereft of song
His mind shadowed, he see too well
His enduring lot, his oppression unending.
He may think that throughout this world
The wise Lord wishes change
He gives great glory to many men
True honour, and to some a deal of harm

For my own self I will speak.
I was for a time the poet of the Heodings
And dear to my lord. Deor I was named.
I had a good position and a gracious lord,
For many years, yet Heorenda,
Skilled in songmaking, received the rights
That my loving lord had once gifted me.
But that has passed. This too shall pass!

The Cuckoo Riddle

Before I was born my parents fled,
Unmourned and unliving, they left me for dead.
But a kindly cousin came to my rescue
She wrapped in me in rich garments
She sheltered and cherished me
As a guest among strangers, my spirit grew great
And under her wing, I thrived.
It was my nature.
My dear protector fended for me until I could fly free.
And travel further than she could dream.
She lost her own sons and daughters for her kindness.

A Tolkien Calendar: Part 1

Joe Bartram, also known as Gandalf, our President since 2014, here presents the first in his monumental four-part series on the calendars of Middle-Earth, in which he establishes a calendar for the Society.

As I write these words, it is by my own reckoning, Mersday the 19th of Afteryule, in the year 8077 of the Shire Calendar. Now, I don’t expect you to take my word for it, but with any luck I have piqued a spark of attention with this uncharacteristically bold statement. If not, then I pray you bear with me for a little longer, and it is my hope that I will be able to engage your interest with what follows.

For those not familiar with the terminology, that was my estimate of today’s date using the old Hobbit calendar system commonly in use at the end of the 3rd Age, at the time of the War of the Ring. In the established and current form, that date would be the 9th of January in the year 2015CE of the Gregorian calendar. Those of you that are still fully awake will have noticed that the presence of a year in that date indicates something rather more than an alternative calendar system, but also a calculation for the amount of time elapsed since the events described in Tolkien’s Legendarium.

This perhaps requires a little explanation. At some point in the famous mists of time – but most likely at a Taruithorn meeting sometime last year – I idly speculated how long ago the events of the War of the Ring took place. To my utmost surprise the spark took, and the ensuing conversation conflagrated beyond all expectation into an argument of the sort where minutiae are argued to the hilt, and baseless conjectures defended as if they were the defendant’s firstborn. After much back and forth, something like a consensus was brokered, and replete with the ideas of an assembled fandom, I returned home and stared scribbling timelines. The rest, as they say, is history. Or at least, obscure fan blog.

For those not in the know, Tolkien considered that Arda (the physical world that includes Middle Earth) was not a realm in another place (as most fantasy worlds are), but rather a realm in another time. Specifically, he considered the events he described to have taken place during an imaginary period at some point in the Earth’s distant past. We can thus interpret the world that Tolkien invented as an alternative history, which might be seamlessly integrated into our own past. For the Pratchett fans among us, think of this as the famous trousers of time in reverse – a synapsis of histories, blending seamlessly from imagination into history.

Given this consideration, we might decide to play a kind of detective game, using the clues left scattered within the Professor’s Legendarium to connect the imaginary world of Middle Earth to our own tangible history. We could then take the Professor at his word, and accept the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as dramatized translations of documents he found in the Red Book of Westmarch, the last remnant of that forgotten time. The Silmarillion then, is Christopher Tolkien’s attempt to unify his father’s disparate notes on other documents contained therein, the original Red Book by this time being lost, or otherwise unavailable to him. Tempting as it might be, I fear that suspending all disbelief would merely increase our confusion. In order to really analyse the Legendarium for any purpose, we must accept it as a work of the imagination that evolved over many decades, and of which we have only fragmentary records available to us, none of which form a complete picture of the world at the fullness of its development.

Still, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. Before we discuss the messy details of dating the events contained in the Legendarium, it would be wise to first establish a little context. In that interest, let’s talk about those peculiar day and month names, and of Tolkien’s calendars. If you’ve ever delved into the appendices to the Lord of the Rings (or indeed any of the ancillary literature), you’ll know that Tolkien’s genius for obscenely indulgent duplication of effort extended beyond his languages and into other realms – the names of characters, maps, and family trees apparently composed of clonally-reproducing men. Of all of these however, the Professor’s calendar systems really takes the biscuit.

part1-figure1

Figure 1: The evolution and divergence of calendar systems in Middle Earth. Dates primarily refer to the founding or fall of states, e.g. of Númenor in SA32 and SA3319 respectively. The exceptions are FA310, TA2060 and TA2160. FA310 is the approximate date of first contact between the Edain and the Eldar, and reflects the earliest date at which men might have adopted an elven reckoning. TA2060 reflects the adoption of the Steward’s reckoning, after Mardil the Steward’s two-day adjustment of the millennial calendar deficit in the previous year. Finally, in TA2160 Hador the Steward made a further one-day adjustment of the calendar to compensate for the remaining 8-hour millennial deficit.

Tolkien invented at least four calendars that have been recorded, each of which seems to have existed in several permutations, and which were used by diverse peoples at different times in the history of Middle Earth. In the most general terms, these represent gradual evolution from the elven system, which was founded upon a deep connection to the seasonal rhythms of the Earth, to a more human (or indeed, Hobbitish) affair drawn from agricultural and lunar cycles. Thus we see a transition from the Rivendell calendar (which, it must be said, likely represents a highly derived state of affairs, even among the Eldar) with a few long seasons, to a Shire calendar of twelve short months that a modern reader would be able to relate to.

It must be said that most of the evolution of calendars that occurred among the Dúnedain (in Númenor and then in Gondor) was mere housekeeping, minor changes according to use and to deal with the deficit produced to carry over changes when new reckonings began. As such, I’m not going to waste space on such minutiae here. Even taking this into consideration, the sheer repeated effort and depth of consideration that went into the effort is quite remarkable. For context, have a look at the chart documenting the evolution and use of calendar systems in Middle Earth.

So of all these calendar systems, why did I pick a Shire Calendar for the use of the society? Firstly, of course it would be remiss of me in my duties as Society Hobbit to choose any alternative. On a more rational note, the Shire Calendar is simply the closest to our own Gregorian system, and hence the easiest to work with. Unlike some of the other systems on offer, the Shire Reckoning had the same number of days to a year (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds), with the difference being carried over in an identical leap-year system (an extra day every fourth year, except the last in a century). It is also tidy – the twelve months were all of the same length (thirty days), with the difference being made up by five special days – three around midsummer, and two at midwinter. In the Shire calendar, the first (Yule 2) and last (Yule 1) days of the year, as well as midsummer’s day and two days either side (the Lithe days) belonged to no month, while in leap years, the extra day came directly after midsummer, and was called the Overlithe. Furthermore, the Hobbits, being the right-minded people they were, found that the shifting of week day names with respect to dates of the month unsightly, and introduced the “Shire Reform” to compensate. Under the reform, midsummer’s day (and, in leap years, the Overlithe) had no weekday name, and so the hobbit year always began on the first day of the week (Sterday) and ended on the last (Highday). This was a most useful innovation for an easily-confused people – as an easily confused person myself, I naturally approve.

The Hobbit week of seven days can readily be reconciled with our own, running from start to finish as Sterday, Sunday, Monday, Trewsday, Hevensday, Mersday and Highday. But there is more here than might immediately meet the eye. That the Hobbit week days match closely our own is obvious, but Tolkien – ever the conscientious philologist – never settled for mere approximation. Instead, the week names (and their archaic cognates) are intended as alternative etymologies for our own Germanic week names.

For example, Tuesday comes from the Old English Tīwesdæg or “Tiw’s day”, in reference to the Germanic god Tiw or Tyr. However, the archaic Hobbitish name given by Tolkien is the clearly-divergent Trewesdei, suggesting an alternate etymology. As it happens, the Professor provides the etymology for us, being a translation of the Quenya Aldëa, tree-day (Sindarin Orgaladh). The stem in this case is alda, Quenya for tree (Sindarin galadh). The same philological attention to detail can be found in the hobbit month names. Having assigned Old English as the translation of the language used by the ancestors of the Rohirrim, it was logical the early Hobbits would have shared these names when they lived in the same region of the world. However, once the Hobbits migrated west over the misty Mountains, their language diverged, eventually becoming the Common Tongue, represented by modern English. Consequently, the month names are Tolkien’s extrapolation of how the Old English months might have evolved with the language into modern English, had they not been replaced by Latinate names. Thus, Sol-mōnaþ (sol month) becomes Solmath.

Table 1: the Hobbit calendar

Calendar Duration in days
Yule 2 1
Afteryule 30
Solmath 30
Rethe 30
Astron 30
Thrimidge 30
Forelithe 30
1 Lithe 1
Midsummer’s day 1
Overlithe 1 (leap years only)
2 Lithe 1
Afterlithe 30
Wedmath 30
Halimath 30
Winterfilth 30
Blotmath 30
Foreyule 30
Yule 1 1

This process is called “back-formation”, in which a novel word is generated by removing a suffix or prefix from an existing one. In English, an example is the formation of the relatively recent verb “resurrect” from the much older Latinate noun “resurrection”. Taken more broadly, Tolkien included many of these retro-engineered items of linguistic fluff in his Legendarium. Thus, “The Man in the Moon Stayed up Too Late”, the song disastrously performed by Frodo at the Prancing Pony, is intended to represent an older (and more complete version) of the modern children’s song “Hey Diddle Diddle”, more commonly known as “The Cow Jumped over the Moon”. Similarly, the idiom “make hay while the sun shines” is a worn-down version of Goldberry’s injunction to the Hobbits to “make haste while the sun shines” in the Fellowship.

This can readily be reconciled with Tolkien’s idea of Middle Earth as an imaginary part of our own history. In all these examples, Tolkien’s supposed roots act as alternative histories for the phrases or poems alluded to, which are thus worn-down fragments of the originals in his alternative, imaginary history. From Númenor as Atlantis, to the goblin king Golfimbul and the sport of golf, these bind Middle Earth ever more firmly to our own history. Back formation may even be more widespread than is typically appreciated. In The Road to Middle Earth, Tom Shippey suggests that many of the poems and passages Tolkien created within his Legendarium represent the Professor’s attempt to write imaginary roots for passages he found in Old Norse or Old English texts, especially in Beowulf.

Returning to the calendar systems, I have perhaps thus far failed to communicate the richness of imagination that went into generating the full range of cultures in the Legendarium. Consider the Hobbit week, for example. In the Appendices, Tolkien states that the Hobbits likely acquired their weekday names from the “Men in the North”, which were in turn translations of those used by the Dúnedain. It is not entirely clear from the context whether “men in the north” refers to the peovple of Rhovanion, where the Hobbits dwelt before their great westward migration, or to the people of Eriador on the other side of the Misty Mountains. However, Tolkien also states that this likely occurred “two thousand years or more before the end of the Third Age”, or before about Third Age (TA) 1000. According to Karen Wynn Fonstad’s The Atlas of Middle Earth the westward migration didn’t begin until TA1050, so it seems likely that the Hobbits adopted their weekdays when they yet dwelt in the upper vales of the River Anduin. I have found Fonstad’s sources to be impeccable in all other matters, so I am willing to trust her on this matter.

If this is the case, then the Hobbit weekday names would have originated in Gondor, while the rest of their calendar represents an adaptation of that used in the fragmented princedoms of Arnor in the north. This is somewhat surprising, as Tolkien states in the same passage (Appendix D) that in their wandering days the Hobbits had no week, suggesting memory of the names were retained over the centuries of wandering. However, I have likely devoted enough space here to the subject, and will leave it up to the reader to devise a solution to that particular enigma.

Now, having reached this point in the thought process, it would be almost trivially easy using the information available to us to calibrate a Shire calendar for this year to our own Gregorian one. However, having come this far it, it would be criminally negligent of me not to take the line of inquiry to its logical conclusion, and assign a year as well as a date. All of which brings me back to the question discussed at the beginning of this article – how long ago were the events of the War of the Ring (and, by extension, the entire history of Middle Earth)? This is the question that I’ll be addressing over the course of the next three articles.

Silver Jubilee

The Society’s Senior Member since the founding, Lord Morgoth himself (as well as Society Demi-God), Dr Martin Grossel reflects on 25 years of Taruithorn in his contribution to the Anniversary issue.

It has been a very great pleasure to have been associated with the Tolkien Society over the last 25 years if only in a minor capacity. It is a considerable achievement to have sustained an active, non-sporting University society over such a long period of time.

Particular highlights, of course, include the annual Banquets which have always been a pleasure to attend and are remarkable because of the number of former members who continue to support them, often accompanied by their families. Such long-term loyalty is very special and in my experience unknown in other Universities. Furthermore the catering and decoration provided by members has always been a huge success.

The various commitments of my professional life have often limited my ability to attend meetings on a regular basis but I have always enjoyed the Trials (though the activities of both Morgoth and Sauron were clearly misunderstood by the Court!) and I am sure all of those who were present will remember Morgoth’s Matches! There also used to be vacation trips by members in the summer and it was a great pleasure to catch up with a group who were walking in the Lake District several years ago.

Other events worthy of particular mention include the Reduced Lord of the Rings performances and the range of visiting speakers that the Society has been able to attract over the years.

I wish the Society every continued success and congratulate all those who have contributed to its achievements to date.

Taruithorn’s 25th

To start off the 25th Anniversary issue, the Society’s Creatrix, Sarah Wells, remembers the Society’s founding.

Twenty-five years?  Already?  Can’t be, it’s only (looks at watch). Oh.

I suppose other people are filling the pages of this venerable magazine with where the time all went to, so I shall look instead at where it all came from.  The story of Taruithorn starts, of course, rather more than twenty-five years back.  Our parent body, the Tolkien Society, had been gathering yearly in Oxford since 1974; I had been making my own pilgrimages to Oxford as part of this since I was 9.  There had been a few attempts at starting an Oxford Tolkien Society over the years, none very large or long-lived, and now remembered only as faint rumours.  In any case, there was no local Smial or University society when I came up in 1988, an impressionable fresher but veteran Tolkien fan.

I can still remember the pleasure of discovering the Geek Ghetto in my first Freshers’ Fair; it was clear there would be no shortage of like-minded people.  Naturally I signed up for at least half the clubs there, and it wasn’t many weeks before I was sure that Tolkien was not, after all, entirely without honour in his own country.  A year later, therefore, having found my feet, my confidence, and a decent supply of good friends to help out, I circulated a few posters, booked a room, and lit the fuse.
The rest is either in the Archives, or too scurrilous to repeat, at least until the 125th anniversary comes round!

25th Anniversary issue and cover!

Hello all! I’m Amrit, your new Editor as of the last AGM. The Society’s been incredibly busy recently with preparations for our 25th Anniversary event a couple of days ago, which I’m glad to say went brilliantly. At the event, we also released the much-awaited (hopefully) 25th Anniversary issue of Miruvor. The issue is now available to download as a PDF here. If you would like a print copy, please contact the Society at taruithorn@gmail.com. The beautiful cover art shown above was done by Lynn Edwards.

The new issue had enormous amounts of new submissions from members, and drew on some material already published on this blog. I hope to, over the next couple of months, publish all the articles therein as blog posts. Hopefully the issue’s publication should inspire plenty of you to write more lovely articles for us – I hope I’ll be able to publish another print issue before my time as editor is up! Remember that submissions are always welcome, just send them to the Editor’s account at miruvor.editor@gmail.com.

As a start on converting the issue into blog posts, here I include my editorial from the Anniversary issue:


Well, welcome all! In case you hadn’t gathered, this is the 25th Anniversary edition of Miruvor!

The story of this issue began at last year’s AGM, when, Lord Morgoth having suggested (and started making plans for) an event for the 25th Anniversary at our Erebor banquet the previous week, the idea of an Anniversary edition was first mooted. Now, two years ago, Miruvor metamorphosed into a blog (taruithornmiruvor.wordpress.com), to which any submissions since then have been posted, and this is the first printed issue since that time. At our later committee meetings, we decided to ask old members to contribute commemorative articles for what was rapidly becoming a very special issue – professionally printed, A4, full colour – as we added more and more components to the Anniversary Party since we realised that, being in a College, we couldn’t provide the catering. Considering that we originally feared we’d struggle to fill a 24-page A4 magazine, I’m not exaggerating when I say that the number of submissions far exceeded our hopes.

There’s a lovely mixture of articles within – as well as the commemorative, we have essays, fanfiction, poetry, visual art, reports on Society activities, even a crossword! In fact, my grand plan to designate a Tengwar letter to each category of article to facilitate the location of articles on interest in the contents page has failed somewhat precisely due to the range of articles received – there were articles that defied categorisation, hence the Other category (7)!

As for the future of Miruvor, I hope that the consistent badgering current members have received about producing articles for this issue has lodged the need to write deep in our minds, and that another issue won’t be long coming. In fact, several members submitted more articles than I could include in this issue, so we’re already part-way there. I’ll endeavour to produce another issue before my time as Editor is up, but in any case, the blog exists, and will continue to exist – I’ll post all articles from this issue on the blog a few weeks after the issue is released, and new submissions will continue going on there. If anyone’s inspired to write by anything here contained, please do so, and send them to me at miruvor.editor@gmail.com! Furthermore, do feel free to contact me with criticism, praise, rage, joy, madness, or any other reaction to the volume you’re holding.

My thanks go to all of our contributors, especially to Joe for tirelessly chasing submissions for weeks on end, to Lynn for our wonderful cover design, and to Claire, my predecessor, for starting the production of this issue and for managing the Miruvor blog from which much of this issue’s content was shamelessly taken. Well, here it is, do enjoy, I hope I’ve not utterly failed in its production, any mistakes contained herein are certainly my fault. Since you’re all reading this at or after the Anniversary Party, I hope that went well. Enjoy this issue, (and the rest of your lives), may the Society continue to flourish,

Amrit

Miruvor Editor