New York

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, The Fire-Writing, 1953, ink and pencil on paper, 10 × 8".

“Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth”

The Morgan Library & Museum

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892–1973) was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, to British parents, and from the age of three was raised in Middle England, moving between the industrial city of Birmingham and the surrounding environs of rural Warwickshire. His lifelong interest in Germanic lore and languages—Finnish, Gothic, Old English, Old Norse—was the genesis of his mythological cosmos, Middle-earth, and the staggeringly complex millennia of histories, races (of gods, elves, dwarves, and men), dialects, and crusades that he created. From an encyclopedic “legendarium” of Elvish civilization called The Silmarillion—a fragmented text that Tolkien started as a young man and obsessively revised throughout his life—he developed his most beloved tales, The Hobbit (1937) and, across three volumes, The Lord of the Rings (1954–55). These sagas form the locus of the Morgan Library & Museum’s

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 2019 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.