A move to Editors new, and the (very) late Hilary 2016 issue


The cover of the Hilary 2016 issue of Miruvor. Artwork by Martha Buckley.

Dear readers,

I must start this post with an apology. It has been over a year and a half since I last updated this blog, but that, my friends, heinous though it be, is not the worst of my crimes.  I compiled the Hilary 2016 issue of Miruvor, and it was printed, distributed, and ravenously devoured by the Society’s ranks of print readers more than a year ago. However, callous, neglectful, lazy Editor that I am, I managed not to give so much as a thought to you, our noble internet readers, not even mentioning that issue on this blog. My apologies. The Hilary 2016 issue may be downloaded as a PDF here. My successors as Editor may post the individual articles to this blog over the coming months; I know not.

In the interval since my last post I am proud to announce that the Back Issues page, through the sterling efforts of various Society members, has been completed! Every issue of Miruvor ever published is now available for download.

Two AGMs of the Society have been and gone since my last post. In 2016 I, fresh from the publication of the aforementioned HT16 issue, was once more elected Editor of this illustrious publication. My sole accomplishment for the Society in this last year was the calling-for of submissions for a Hilary 2017 issue; alas, the received content was too little, and the issue was postponed.

After the 2017 AGM a couple of months ago, I am now happy to be able to welcome my successors, Kristi and Tsvetana, to the illustrious position of Miruvor Editors! I am currently engaged in composing a set of handover instructions for them, and wish them well in all their endeavours, as Editors and otherwise.

Farewell, friends,


Outgoing Editor

The End…

And that’s it! Lynn‘s wonderful back cover art above closes the 25th Anniversary issue of Miruvor. We had some truly wonderful submissions, which successfully made the issue truly a memorable one.

Now, to look forward! I’ll continue blog-posting now and again; I have a few bits that didn’t quite make it into the issue for reasons of space. However our main task must be to look forward to the next print issue! I’m now officially accepting submissions for the Hilary 2016 issue, which I hope can be printed over the Christmas vacation to reach you at the start of term. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to be a member of the Society to contribute, and your subject need only be tangentially related to Tolkien. So get writing!

Your Editor,

Amrit Sidhu-Brar

(more of Lynn’s artwork is at http://ailinie.deviantart.com/)

The Society Quotes Book

Your Editor contributes a selection of quotes from the Society’s last couple of years for your amusement.

Taruithorn is something of a stewing pot for utterances of the hilarious, whimsical or just plain odd kinds. In Michaelmas 2013, having become vaguely aware of the selection of amusing quotes from years gone by in our archived website and disappointed in the lack of any such repository for the current epoch of the Society, I instituted a Society Quotes Book. Recently I discovered while digging in the Archive that a similar item existed at some point in the Society’s history – although I was unable to track down the book itself. The present Quotes Book currently standing at eleven used pages, I include a selection of its more ridiculous offerings below:

  • Joe: “Is that Silmaril in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”
  • Eleanor: “Odysseus – just bad at reading maps?”
  • Caretaker [coming to lock up Community Centre after 2014 Banquet]: “I just saw a taxi leaving with a dragon in the back.”
  • Eleanor [during a particularly competitive game of Lord of the Rings Risk]: “Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo, bitches.”
  • Agata: “Elves make very good projectile weapons.”
  • Claire: “No! The Valar don’t give a sh*t if we believe in mammoths.”
  • Hebe: “The Quotes Book contains Amrit saying ‘That’s a very attractive orc.’ ”
  • Amrit: “I wasn’t talking about you!”
  • Amrit: “ ‘An Unexpected Journey’ does somewhat redeem itself by showing us dwarven underwear.”
  • Joe: “Sexy, sexy Maedhros”
  • Eleanor: “I never said that. Also, I was drunk when I said that.”
  • Amrit: “Those Orcs are very attractive.”
  • Katherine: “You just don’t like Legolas.”
  • Eleanor: “No, I just don’t like Legolas’s eyebrows.”
  • Eleanor: “The Battle of Four Armies and One Small But Strategically Placed Air Force”
  • Claire: “Children are not pieces of wood.”
  • Martha: “Amrit, you’re clearly a very camp Legolas.”
  • Eleanor: “You know when Morgoth was going around doing the BOOM DA BOOM DA BOOM thing in the Music of the Ainur.”
  • Joe: “I never pictured Boromir raising his eyebrows at me suggestively”
  • Joe: “The Sun is basically a replacement of a replacement of an illumination solution.”
  • Amrit: “Yes, whenever we have a serious speaker meeting a few of [the C.S. Lewis Society] usually turn up.”
  • Edmund Weiner (speaker): “Well, I’m glad to hear I’m not a serious speaker!”
  • Trial of Denethor, 5th Week Michaelmas 2013
  • Judge: “While it is abuse, it may not be child abuse.”
  • Éowyn: “And why not, in a country where people routinely live over a hundred years?.”
  • Pippin: “I was forced to sing while men died around me”
  • Prosecutor: “Very traumatic indeed”
  • Judge: “Especially for the dying men”
  • Prosecutor: “So how dind Denethor appear at the time?”
  • Judge: “Warm, perhaps?.”
  • Prosecutor:Before he was set on fire.”
  • Filming “Looking for the Hobbit”, -1st Week Hilary 2014
  • Director: “So now, Joseph, Hitler!”
  • Producer: “C’est toujours Amrit!”
  • Sound engineer: “Anahita, you battery is running down.”
  • Director: “Joseph, I like the way you turn your spoon.”
  • Waiter: “No dairy?… are you vegetarian as well… and you’re vegan? I’ll go get you Rick.”
  • Rick: “Where’s the vegan?”
  • Trial for the Scouring of the Shire, 4th Week Michaelmas 2014
  • “We sentence the Rangers to be placed on a small bit of Middle-Earth with Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and moved beyond the circles of the world for all eternity.”
  • “A fate worse than death.”

Bilbo Baggins’ bequest labels

Hebe Stanton (Secretary 2014-15) and your humble Editor here present to you a translation of some long-lost Middle-Earth manuscript fragments.

Researches in the Bodleian Library have recently unearthed previously undocumented examples of Bilbo Baggins’ famously passive-aggressive gift labels dating from the time of his Eleventy-First Birthday Party (1401 Shire-reckoning). Despite our imperfect command of the Westron tongue, we have here attempted to present English renderings of some of the more facetious examples.

To TARQUIN, in the hope that his life is improved. – on a hatstand

 To MELODY GOODENOUGH, for the amusement of her parents.  – on a mouth organ

 To ELPHANORA BRANDYBUCK, for the nourishment of her greatest friends. – on a marrowbone1

1 Elphanora was inordinately fond of her dogs

 For PRISCILLA BRACEGIRDLE, in the hopes that it is edifying. – on a copy of Toby Tobold the Third’s On Wooing

 To TERENCE SADDLEBOTTOM, in recognition of ten years of impeccable service. – on a leather satchel and three pouches of Old Toby2

2 Terence Saddlebottom was Hobbiton’s most diligent postal worker; the sound of his whistling at 7:15 am sharp had woken the tenants of Bagshot Row for well over a decade.

 To FARMER MAGGOT of THE MARISH, in recompense for many fine dinners. – on a bundle of dried mushrooms

 To MARIGOLD TOOK, for its instructive qualities. – on a small golden pocket-watch.

 For HANNA GREENHAND, to fill empty spaces. – on an assortment of small and usually worthless articles3

3 Hanna Greenhand was one of the primary collectors of mathoms in the Shire; her home was unusually cluttered even by hobbit standards, making visits perilous for the unsuspecting guest.

  To PENELOPE, for her comfort – on a pair of earmuffs and a assortment of embroidered shawls, gloves and scarves.

 To FOLCO OAKSEED, for his collection – on a pouch of old coins4

4 Folco was notoriously tight-fisted.


Taruithorn Songbook

We have a long tradition of filking in the Society, and here I’ve included some compositions more recent than the last revision of the songbook.

(Tune: On My Own from Les Misérables)
Martha Buckley, Hebe Stanton and Amrit Sidhu-Brar

The mountain is a-burning;
Our gold has all been stolen;
Without it
Our world can’t go on turning,
For there can be no happiness without our hoarded gold.
that dragon took our happiness
That Smaug, he is a bastard.
I suppose
We survived with our families,
But if he’d tak’n our children then at least we’d have our gold!
The dragon,
we will return to kill him
The dragon,
He has destroyed our haircuts.
We’ll kill him,
And throw him from our mountain,
that oath that Fëanor swore will be nothing next to ours!
The dragon,
The dragon,
The dragon,
he’s taken all our gold!


The Leaving of Valinor Rag
(Tune: The Vatican Rag by Tom Lehrer)
Owen Cotton-Barratt and others

Morgoth smashed our lamps with ease
So we got some magic trees
Their wond’rous light we must instil
In Silmaril, Silmaril, Silmaril.

But then came Ungoliant
She sucked their nectar – down it went!
Things they then got really bad: Fëanor he lost his dad
The leavin’ of Valinor Rag!

Be friend or foe or seed defiled
Of Morgoth Bauglir, mortal child
In after days on earth shall dwell
No law nor love nor league of hell
Not might of gods, not moveless fate
Shall him defend from wrath or hate
Time to slay the Teleri

Valinor will not be missed
We seven sons are mighty pissed
We seek with implacable will
Our Silmaril, Silmaril, Silmaril

The boats are burned to tindersticks
The seven sons now number six
Melian the Maia – let’s go and say hiya
We’re the sons of Fëanor–
Accompaniment by Maglor

Was he a felon or
simply just tellin’ your
Leavin’ of Valinor Rag!


Gold, glorious gold
(Tune: Food, glorious food from Oliver!)
Hebe Stanton and Amrit Sidhu-Brar

Gold, glorious gold
Gold, glorious gold,
there’s nothing quite like it.
Gold, glorious, gold,
you can even take it to market
And if it gets stolen then
you can just mine more,
it’s GOLD,
wonderful GOLD,
magical GOLD,
glorious GOLD


Song of the Dwarves of Moria
(Tune: Do you hear the people sing? from Les Misérables)
Martha Buckley

(CHORUS:) Do you hear the dwarf-smiths sing?
Singing the songs they learned of old.
This is the music of a people
Who are quite obsessed with GOLD.
When the beating of our hearts
Echoes the beating of the drums
Then we know we’re about to die when the Balrog comes…

Will you join our mining party
Will you help us in our need?
There’s a tonne of Mithril ore down there just waiting to be freed!
We’ll mine and we’ll dig and we’ll die for insatiable greeeeeeeeed!



The Moria Song
(Tune: Ding! Dong! Merrily on high)
Various Society members at the 2009 Moria banquet

Drum-drum-drumming in the deep,
the Orcs are getting nearer.
Drum-drum-drumming in the deep
the Cave Troll’s getting clearer

Balrogs ate our children!


(Tune: One Day More from Les Misérables)
Hebe Stanton, Phil Bone and Amrit Sidhu-Brar

GANDALF: Aragorn!

To claim the kingship is his destiny.

He shall restore the ancient monarchy;

Isildur’s Heir shall soon return,

the Steward’s pyre, it then shall burn


ARAGORN: I must be King, Lord Elrond says.

For Arwen’s hand to be permitted

GANDALF: Aragorn!

ARAGORN & ARWEN: As Beren and his Lúthien,

Our mixed-race love shall be committed

ÉOWYN: One more day all by my self

ARAGORN & ARWEN: A mortal fate we now shall share

ÉOWYN: One more day in Arwen’s shadow

ARAGORN & ARWEN: I was born to be with you.

ÉOWYN: How I hate that stupid elf

ARAGORN & ARWEN The Kingdom shall be made anew

ÉOWYN: She stole Aragorn from me!

DENETHOR: You’re not as good as Boromir

 FARAMIR: I will ride out for you, my father

 BOROMIR: Dad, be nice to Faramir…

 FARAMIR: Our white city shall not fall

 PIPPIN: Then we’ll celebrate with beer!

 FARAMIR: Will my father then love me?

ALL: The time is now, the day is here:

 GANDALF: Aragorn!

 WITCH-KING: Sauron’s victory is assurèd

For no man can murder me,

The white city chall be razèd

Gondor’s remnants then shall flee!

GOLLUM: Watch ‘em run to her,

Rummage through the bones,

We’ll take the Precious, it will be for us alone.

Nasty hobbitses,

One of them is fat,

 The other is a Baggins , SMEAGOL: but he can’t help that!

 ALL: One day to a new beginning

[Non-linear bit with lots of simultaneous voices that can’t be adequately expressed here]

GANDALF: Tomorrow we must win the day
Tomorrow we must find a way

ALL: Tomorrow we’ll discover if the monarchy can be restored,



Merton Tolkien Symposium

Here is your humble Editor‘s contribution to the Anniversary issue: a report on Merton College’s symposium on Tolkien last year.

On Tuesday of 6th Week of Michaelmas Term, Merton held an all-day symposium of lectures entitled “Tolkien in Oxford” as part of its 750th anniversary celebrations. Unfortunately, most of us weren’t able to attend due to the Tuesday daytime slot, but I managed to avoid labs that day to attend the event. Speakers included John Garth and Stuart Lee, both of whom have recently spoken to Taruithorn.

Arriving in Merton’s lecture theatre in Rose Lane, I was pleasantly surprised to meet one of our newer members, and find that I wasn’t the entire Taruithorn presence. After standing around awkwardly for a few brief moments, attendees were invited to take our seats, and proceedings began. A brief safety talk by Merton’s Fellow-Librarian was followed by a welcome speech by Sir Martin Taylor, the Warden of Merton College. As one would expect, he made much of the link between Tolkien and Merton, even somewhat facetiously extending the Merton connection to include Tolkien’s childhood schools – King Edward’s because its current headmaster is a Mertonian, and the Birmingham Oratory because of its foundation by Cardinal Newman, an alumnus of an Oxford Hall later subsumed by Merton. He then shared with us tidbits from the King Edward’s archive, retrieved for him by the aforementioned headmaster, including that Tolkien once advocated the return of the stocks as a punishment in a school debate, stating that it would “benefit the greengrocers’ trade!”

Hwæt!” began the first speech of the day, just as Tolkien’s Beowulf lectures used to. This, along with the rest of the first eleven lines of Beowulf, were delivered from memory by Professor Andy Orchard, the current holder of the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon – Tolkien’s old post at Pembroke – who lectures in the English department on Old English literature and Medieval Latin. After completing his recital, and reading us Tolkien’s translation of the passage, he pointed us to the first few pages of our handouts, containing a formidable list of all the lecture series Tolkien gave during his twenty-year stint in that professorship – in some terms he did six lectures per week. We were also asked to notice the considerable number of Old Norse and Philology lectures that Tolkien gave – which weren’t his job to do!

The main body of Professor Orchard’s talk took us through Tolkien’s teaching while in Oxford, with illustrations from the segments of Tolkien’s library still present in various Oxford Libraries. We were shown the breadth of his personal linguistic reading – not only Old English and Norse, but also Faroese and Gothic, Welsh, Irish, Breton, Scottish Gaelic, and much more. He also drew our attention to some cryptic text Tolkien had written in the in the front of an Irish book that he acquired as an undergraduate: “AMDG” and “EMB”. AMDG, he told us, stands for ad maiorem Dei gloriam, the motto of the Jesuits – a reference to Father Francis Morgan, Tolkien’s guardian from the time of his mother’s death to his majority. In “EMB”, the ‘M’ was noticeably in the shape of a heart, the ‘M’ standing, of course, for the Mary in Edith Mary Bratt, Tolkien’s early love and future wife whom he was forbidden to contact at the time.

Professor Orchard finished his talk with a riddle: “What have I got in my pocket?” The answer was a personal treasure of his, a torn-off bit of paper that he found tucked inside an Old Norse book while an undergraduate at Exeter College in the eighties. On it was written some Old Norse saying, roughly, “All the Coalbiters should visit C. S. Lewis’s home Magdalen on Odin’s Day, November 20th, to read Helgakviða Hundingsbana I”. The note, which does seem to be in Lewis’s handwriting, appears to be an invitation by him to the Coalbiters, Tolkien’s little Norse sagas reading club. Looking for years in which the 20th of November fell on a Wednesday, Professor Orchard dated it to 1929, and found corroborating evidence in the form of a letter by Lewis referring to a Coalbiters meeting on that day. The Exeter Librarian of the time, he said, let him keep it because it was “written in foreign”. He then closed his lecture with a few lines of Old English from Beowulf’s funeral.

Now, I’ve been going to Professor Orchard’s Beowulf lectures this term, and I feel I should mention that in the lecture the next morning, when comparing characters in Beowulf to those in a Norse saga, he looked at me and said “just for my Tolkien friend in the audience,” this character was also described as a Kólbitr, and then proceeded to explain what the Coalbiters club was and why they were called that. I felt special…

The next lecture was by Dr Elizabeth Solopova of Brasenose, also a lecturer in the English department in mediaeval literature and the history of the book, an co-author with Stuart Lee of The Keys of Middle Earth, speaking on the subject “Tolkien and Names”. Now, I must confess that while the preceding section of this article was written a few days after the event, I then proceeded to foolishly forget about this article for about four months, and only remembered it now that the Miruvor submissions deadline approaches. I therefore apologise for any noticeable decline in the article’s quality hence noticeable, as I’m now working purely from my rather illegible and disjointed notes from the lectures…

Dr Solopova began her talk with a Tolkien quote: “To me a name comes first, the story later”, and with this launched into an examination of the roles of names in mythology and mediaeval literature.  Observing that in the Icelandic prose sagas, the place-names and personal names are usually given with great precision even for minor characters and locations, that these works will give names even when strictly unnecessary for plot or story. Specifically mentioning that editions of such works often include genealogies, indices of personal and place names, even maps, she drew the obvious link with Tolkien’s work. Dr Solopova presented that our evaluation of the role of these details depends on our interpretation of the identity of these works –  ancient literature and Tolkien’s work. She suggests that the extent to which mythological tales were seen as history as well as (or instead of) as fiction presents an explanation for the inclusion of such details –  they have intrinsic worth outside their contribution to the narrative since we’re learning about the world in that time and place, and this is what Tolkien was trying to carry out in his tales. In fact, she tells us that Tolkien once commented that some of his fans wrote to him as if his stories were real and he was misinterpreting them!

Later in her talk, Dr Solopova pointed out many interesting examples of etymologies of Tolkien place-names and people-names, especially those of the Rohirrim, which, being rendered in Anglo-Saxon, were close to her specialism. For example, she drew our attention to the names of the royal house of Rohan – Théoden, Thengel, Théodwyn &c. – which alliterate, as did the names of Anglo-Saxon royals.

I found that, as well as the talk itself, the questions from the audience after Dr Solopova’s talk raised many interesting points. One questioner, for example, pointed out the importance of nameless things in Tolkien’s work, giving the example of the Mouth of Sauron who has “forgotten his own name”, as well as the Ringwraiths –  for whom the loss of their names can be seen as showing how utterly they have given themselves up.
After Dr Solopova’s lecture (and a break for lunch), we heard briefly from Sir Rick Trainor, the Rector of Exeter College. He told us of an occasion when, as an undergraduate at Merton in the seventies, he once met Tolkien when invited into the SCR, but their only conversation was on the subject of the American elections at the time, on which the Rector gave predictions that turned out entirely false. The Rector (who is American) is thus a little disappointed that Tolkien’s only memory of him would be as the student who didn’t know the politics of his own country…

Sir Rick was followed by a brief introduction from Dr Catherine Parker, the Tolkien Archivist at the Bodleian, from whom I would have liked to hear more. She introduced the third speaker of the day, John Garth, speaking on Tolkien’s inspirations in a lecture entitled “100 years on: how Tolkien came to the brink of Middle-Earth”. A specialist in Tolkien’s undergraduate years (he recently wrote a short volume entitled “Tolkien at Exeter College” to tie in with Exeter’s 700th Anniversary celebrations), Mr Garth took us chronologically through this phase of Tolkien’s life identifying particular inspirations and his creative process, while frequently diverting to show us interesting etymological links and short anecdotes. He began his talk by mentioning Crist II, the Anglo-Saxon poem which inspired Tolkien’s first identifiable published Middle-Earth work, the poem The Voyage of Eärendil the Evening Star, which notably contains a reference to the character earendel. He used Exeter College’s records of Tolkien’s library borrowings during his time as an undergraduate to illustrate his interests during this period – among interesting observations were that during the first year of his degree, Tolkien borrowed only one Classics book!

Mr Garth discussed the Notion Club Papers, Tolkien’s abandoned time-travel novel featuring a fictionalised version of the Inklings, in which Tolkien’s analogue, one Alwin Arundel Lowdham, presents to the other members of the club his extraordinarily detailed dreams about Atlantis, Middle-Earth’s Númenor. In the name of this character, Mr Garth showed us that Alwin is a modernisation of Ælfwine (Elendil in Quenya), “elf-friend”, that is the name of Tolkien’s Anglo-Saxon traveller to Eressëa through whom the Silmarillion tales are first recounted. Arundel meanwhile is an Anglicisation of Eärendil – here and in many other cases Mr Garth showed us the etymological references and links that Tolkien’s works contain, illustrating in many cases Tolkien’s wish to, through his narratives, create a world that might have given rise to the divergent literary traditions he studied. All these small insights were framed by the narrative of Tolkien’s undergraduate life – we were told the story of his coming up to Oxford, his discovery of Finnish, the switch to studying Classics and his winning back of Edith soon after his 21st birthday. Several biographical were present that were less familiar to me – for example we learned about an experience briefly before Tolkien’s Mods in Classics, when one of his neighbours on his staircase shot himself in his room.

After finishing relating the development of the character of Túrin drawing on those of Sigurd and Kullervo from Norse and Finnish traditions, Mr Garth ended his talk with Frodo’s words to activate Eärendil’s Light and the line from Cynewulf’s Crist II that started it all: Aiya Eärendil elenion ancalima and eala earendel engla beorhtast – the one in Quenya, the other in Old English.

Speaking after Mr Garth was Edmund Weiner, the Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Fellow of Kellogg College, and professional philologist, co-author of the book The Ring of Words – J.R.R. Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary. Mr Weiner’s talk illustrated Tolkien’s contributions to the OED and his use of language in his published works, focussing on three words: wan, dim, and pale. Tolkien’s contributions to the OED focussed on the letter W, and Mr Weiner was able to use as a source (and show us as a scan) Tolkien’s handwritten dictionary card for the word wan.

Of Tolkien’s six meanings listed on the card, three were listed as extinct, and three in present use – the most recent as meaning faint, dull, pale, an older meaning pallid or sickly of a face, and one meaning dark or gloomy, specifically of the sea, this preserving a much older, more general Old English meaning. Mr Weiner identified the diminution of light as the common quantity linking the two seemingly contradictory meanings dark and pale – the development of the latter into the former would appear at first to be a reversal of meaning. We were shown that one of the examples Tolkien’s entry cites for the Old English meaning dark or gloomy, and which he identifies as usually used in an ominous sense, is from Grendel’s approach to Heorot in Beowulf, and yet Tolkien’s own recently-published Beowulf translation into modern English does not use wan here, nor in the four other places where it occurs in the Old English text.

Mr Weiner then investigated Tolkien’s use of these words in his fiction, giving us many fascinating example of their usage and occurrence. It seems that Tolkien used these three words almost twenty times as often as they commonly appeared  in English at the time. Mr Weiner noted to us that Tolkien frequently used wan in the Silmarillion, the Lay of Leithian, his translation of Pearl, and other works, while he preferred dim and pale in the Lord of the Rings. His analysis of the use of pale in the Lord of the Rings showed that it is used most commonly with light, sky, face, and eyes, and Mr Weiner here noted that Tolkien uses the word almost exclusively in ominous contexts – similar to the Old English meaning of wan, yet here the word is pale, corresponding to wan’s modern sense, not its older. However, an exception is in Lothlórien, where pale describes things that are good, including Galadriel. He analysed dim in the Book of Lost Tales, where notable instances include its use describing the magic of Valinor and the fading of the Elves – in both of these cases and in many others, the word is used with a sense of vanishing past lordliness, yet in the Lord of the Rings, dim is used almost exclusively to describe the gloom of Mordor, with other words, such as grey, being used to achieve this “distancing of Faerie”. The linking concept between the meanings of wan, of diminution of light, connects much of Tolkien’s use of these three words. After showing us many more such subtle links, Mr Weiner’s talk concluded, having demonstrated that Tolkien’s use of these three words illustrates his general concept of his world as removed from us in time, as historically distant.

Mr Weiner’s talk was the last lecture of the day, the rest of which was dedicated to the BBC’s 1968 Tolkien in Oxford documentary, recently restored, which was shown after a brief introduction by Dr Stuart Lee of Merton College and the English Faculty, Lecturer in Old English, co-author with Dr Solopova of The Keys of Middle Earth, and editor of the Blackwell Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien.

The documentary itself (available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/writers/12237.shtml) is an extended interview with Tolkien in various locations around Oxford, on the subject of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, interspersed with sometimes-amusing short clips of students of the time giving their views on Tolkien’s works. The whole documentary is available on the internet, and I won’t summarise it here, except to say that it is extremely interesting as a source for Tolkien’s views on his own work. Here I give some of the more amusing quotes from it. One sixties student, on the hobbits’ lifestyle in the Shire, commented “I’ve never seen anything more bourgeois in my life!”. Another, after declaring that the Lord of the Rings is about the oppression of the proletarian masses, namely the Orcs, admits that he hasn’t actually read the book. Tolkien, commenting on his popularity, says “North America has always been more easily excited than England”. After reciting the One Ring poem in the Black Speech, Tolkien declares “I invented that in the bath, I remember”… “I got it right and thought ‘all right, that will do’ and jumped out”. We get a glimpse of an early OUSFG, one of whom comments “It’s always fun meeting another fan who gets your references. The obscurer the reference the better the pleasure”. Tolkien at one point notes that he’s always been fascinated by trees, and that he’d “like to make contact with a tree and see what it had to say”, before, on a less humorous note, declaring that the Lord of the Rings, like all stories, “is about death”.

After the film, Dr Lee interviewed Leslie Megahey, the documentary’s director, who was a radio and TV writer, director and producer at the BBC for decades, and Tolkien in Oxford was his first film (The interview has been put on the University’s website at http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/tolkien-oxford-bbc-1968). One of Mr Megahey told us many interesting stories about the making of the documentary, including how Tolkien later said of him that he was a “very nice, very young man, equipped with some intelligent insight”, and that though his comment on the film itself was that he didn’t like it at all, he did invite the young Mr Megahey to come back to have a drink with him in Oxford sometime.

As well as coming for his interview, Mr Megahey had brought with him some previously unseen film footage, cut from the final version, as well as the typescripts of every take and interview with Tolkien – another previously unseen priceless resource which he entrusted to Dr Lee, who may publish them at some time in the future. The day ended with the showing of the extra segments of film, which included a great many interesting comments by Tolkien. Tolkien mentions that “everyone make errors in my mythology” – citing the Valar’s taking the elves to Valinor in the hope of protecting them as a critical error. In a less serious section, on the subject of the taste of bacon, he comments that it is as if “pigs had a divine destiny to be used as bacon”, such is the taste.

As the day came to a close, the last comment, from the Professor himself speaking through the years through yet more previously unseen footage, was on the subject of language itself. He notes that it is unfortunate how little people know of language, in that most consider it only verbal communication, when in fact, language is the passing of any information from human to human. He specifically mentions that lighting candles and genuflecting are both examples of language. Now, it seems to me that if not only words, but any gesture that transfers meaning is language, then stories most certainly are, and as vehicles of transferring so much meaning, indeed they are one of its highest forms. Then it is certain that Tolkien, not only through his academic work, but also through his fiction, has phenomenally contributed to our English language that was such a large part of his life.

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,


Miruvor Editor