The theme for Tolkien Reading Day 2016 is Life, Death, and Immortality in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship will be celebrating Tolkien Reading Day – weekend 19-20 March (the following weekend is Easter).

  • Tolkien Reading Day is an international event held on the 25th of March each year and
    celebrated by Tolkien Groups worldwide. It has been organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.
  • The 25th of March is the date of the downfall of the Lord of the Rings (Sauron) and the fall of Barad-dûr. It’s as simple as that!
  •  “To be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than in 1939 … by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, “Foreword to the Second Edition”, The Lord of the Rings.
  • The theme was chosen for 2016 to coincide with the one-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Tolkien fought and survived this dreadful battle, but lost his close friend and fellow T.C.B.S. member Rob Gilson. The death of other close friends during World War One, undoubtedly shaped Tolkien’s outlook on life and death, with mortality and immortality looming large in the Middle-earth legendarium.

Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship will be celebrating at the following Libraries with readings, discussions and A/V Presentations:

  • March 19, Saturday – Logan North Library, commences at 11:00 am (Southside)
  • March 20, Sunday – Chermside Library, commences at 1:00 pm. (Northside)

We invite people to come along and join the audience and if you would like to do a reading/discussion you are most welcome to contribute to the program.

For further details, please contact  0437 353 254

The World of Tolkien: The Publishing Phenomenon

Tolkien Library Presentation Notes: 30 Outline Points.

Presented in June at Chermside Library, the next Presentation is at Logan North Library, Thursday, 27 August 2015, 6:30 pm.

The World of Tolkien – The Phenomenon

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Slides 1&2   “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Who would have thought that these words written in the early 1930’s by an Oxford professor, on a blank page when he was marking School Certificate papers, would be the beginnings of a publication phenomenon and lead to one of the largest movie franchises of all time?

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was a major scholar of the English language, Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at the University of Oxford and later Professor of English Language and Literature .

Slide 3     Early Life:  Tolkien was born in South Africa on 3 January 1892, to English parents Arthur and Mabel and had a younger brother, Hilary. 

Slide 4: At the age of 16, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt, who was three years older, when he and his brother Hilary moved into the boarding house in which she lived. With two people of their personalities and in their position, romance was bound to flourish.

Slide 5:     War: World War I had broken out and in 1915 Tokien enlisted in the Army and was sent to the Western Front in France a couple of months after his wedding.

Tolkien saw active duty in the battle of the Somme. He eventually contracted trench fever and was repatriated back home where he continued to serve in home garrisons until the conclusion of the War.

Slide 6:  Academic Life and Family: In 1920 he took a position at Leeds University as Associate Professor in English Language. In 1925 he returned to Oxford and was appointed Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English).

He soon became one of the founding members of a loose grouping of Oxford friends (by no means all at the University) with similar interests, known as “The Inklings”.

Slide 7:   Ronald and Edith had four children, John, Michael, Christopher and their last child and only daughter, Priscilla, was born in 1929. Tolkien got into the habit of writing the children annual illustrated letters as if from Santa Claus, and a selection of these was published in 1976 as The Father Christmas Letters.

Slide 8:  The Hobbit: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

 The Hobbit was published in 1937. It immediately scored a success, and has not been out of children’s recommended reading lists ever since. It was so successful that Stanley Unwin asked if he had any more similar material available for publication.

Slide 9:    The Lord of the Rings: After many rewrites, interruptions due to World War II, and pressing College commitments, Tolkien had his “New Hobbit” ready for review in 1949. But it would take another five years before it would be published.

Slide 10:  The Phenomenom:

The really amazing moment was when The Lord of the Rings went into a pirated paperback version in 1965, published by Ace Paperbacks in the USA. Firstly, this put the book into the impulse-buying category; and secondly, the publicity generated by the copyright dispute alerted millions of American readers to the existence of something outside their previous experience, but which appeared to speak to their condition.

Slide 11:  This development produced mixed feelings in the author. On the one hand, he was extremely flattered, and to his amazement, became rather rich. On the other, he could only deplore those whose idea of a great trip was to ingest The Lord of the Rings and LSD simultaneously.

At this time, Tolkien was not implacably opposed to the idea of a dramatic adaptation, however, and sold the film, stage and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1969 under an agreement stipulating a lump sum payment of £10,000 plus a 7.5% royalty after costs, payable to Allen & Unwin and the author.

Slide 12:  Even The Beatles planned to do a live-action version with Paul McCartney as Frodo Baggins, Ringo Starr as Sam Gamgee, George Harrison as Gandalf, and John Lennon as Gollum. The group approached Stanley Kubrick to direct the film. Even though he briefly considered directing the film, Kubrick turned the offer down, as he felt the trilogy was unfilmable due to its immensity.

Slide13:  Later Life:

Tolkien did write and publish a number of other articles, including a range of scholarly essays, many reprinted in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays; one Middle-earth related work, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil; Other notable publications included, Sir Gawain, Sir Orfeo and The Pearl, and some stories independent of the Legendarium, such as, Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf by Niggle, and Smith of Wootton Major.

After his retirement in 1959 Edith and Ronald moved to Bournemouth. On 22 November 1971 Edith died, and Ronald soon returned to Oxford, to rooms provided by Merton College. Ronald died on 2 September 1973.  He and Edith are buried together in a single grave in the Catholic section of Wolvercote cemetery in the northern suburbs of Oxford. (The grave is well signposted from the entrance.) The legend on the headstone reads:

Slide 14:      Edith Mary Tolkien, Lúthien, 1889-1971
                       John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Beren, 1892-1973

Slide 15:   The flow of publications was only temporarily slowed by Tolkien’s death. The long-awaited Silmarillion, edited by Christopher Tolkien, appeared in 1977. In 1980 Christopher also published a selection of his father’s incomplete writings from his later years under the title of Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth.

Meanwhile the cult, not just of Tolkien, but of the fantasy literature that he had revived, if not actually inspired, was really taking off. Tolkien is often referred to as “The Father of Epic Fantasy”. Many modern Fantasy Writers, acknowledged that their works were inspired by Tolkien.

Slide 16:   Popularity of the Books: The Lord of the Rings is the second best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold. Only A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens has sold more copies worldwide while the third best-selling novel is Tolkien’s The Hobbit, 100 million copies.

Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in their first printing form are two of the most highly prized books amongst collectors.

The enduring popularity of The Hobbit makes early printings of the book attractive collectors’ items. The first printing of the first English-language edition can sell for between £6,000 and £20,000 at auction. This year, 2015, another signed and inscribed first printing of The Hobbit sold at auction for GBP137,000.

Slide 17:   Early Films: In 1976 the film, stage and merchandise  rights were sold to Tolkien Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company, and the first movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings appeared in 1978, an animated rotoscoping film directed by Ralph Bakshi.

In 1977 an animated TV production of The Hobbit was made by Rankin-Bass, and in 1980 they produced an animated The Return of the King, which covered some of the portions of The Lord of the Rings that Bakshi was unable to complete.

Slide 18:    With the 1978 movie came the first of Movie merchandise, including, a film book, figurines, calendars, posters, cards etc. Royal Doulton produced a set of porcelain figures based on the Bakshi movie and today these are highly prized by collectors.

Slide 19:   Adaptations: Since the sixties the books have been adapted for various media multiple times.


Slide 20:   Music: In 1967, a record and book was published. Donald Swann set music to The Road Goes Ever On, a collection of Tolkien’s lyrics and poems. The work was approved by Tolkien himself who reads poems on the recording.

There have been Chamber music and full symphonies composed based on the books..

Progressive rock acts have composed several songs based on Tolkien’s characters and stories. One of the most notable was Led Zeppelin who had several songs inspired by Tolkien’s works. A number of Metal bands like Blind Guardian and Nightwish feature Tolkien-themed songs.

Several folk rock and new age musicians inspired by Tolkien have included, Sally Oldfield, Enya and The Hobbitons.

Parodies: Several parodies have been produced over the years in books, on TV and on radio. The National Lampoon published a parody book Bored of the Rings (1968) which was a publication success.

Slide 21:   Games:

There are multiple model-based games, trading card games, board games and video games that take place in Middle-earth,. In a broader sense, many fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons and DragonQuest were strongly influenced by Tolkien’s works.

Several other games have been based directly on The Lord of the Rings and related works. Board games appeared as early as 1977 and since then many have been produced.

Chess sets have also been created with the figures based on people and other characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Some of these are very collectible.

Slide 22:   Art and illustration: The earliest editions of The Hobbit contained illustrations by the author himself.

Pauline Baynes, became Tolkien’s favourite illustrator and she created drawings for The Adventures of Tom Bombadil as well as for Farmer Giles of Ham. Pauline also illustrated two poster maps of The Hobbit and Middle-earth in the 1970s. All the editions of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Series were also illustrated by her.

Crown Princess Margrethe (now Queen Margrethe II) of Denmark, an accomplished and critically acclaimed painter, was inspired to do illustrations to The Lord of the Rings in the early 1970s.  Tim and Greg Hildebrandt were also well-known Tolkien illustrators during the first decades after the publication of The Lord of the Rings.

Slide 23:   Probably the widest-known Tolkien illustrators of the 1990s and 2000s are John Howe, Alan Lee, and Ted Nasmith — Alan Lee for illustrated editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Ted Nasmith for illustrated editions of The Silmarillion, and John Howe for the cover artwork to several Tolkien publications.

In 2004, Lee won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for his work on the third film in the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Several other artists have found inspiration in Tolkien’s works and many of their pictures can be found in Tolkien calendars and other publications about Middle-earth related titles.

Slide 24:   Fan films:

The Hunt for Gollum, a fan film based on elements of the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, was released on the internet in May 2009.

Another fan made feature film, Born of Hope, produced and directed by Kate Madison, was released online on December 1, 2009 on Daily Motion and later on Youtube.

Side 25:   The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Film:

The Lord of the Rings is an epic filmtrilogy consisting of three fantasyadventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003).

The films were directed by Peter Jackson and distributed by New Line Cinema. The filming for all three films was done simultaneously and entirely in Jackson’s native New Zealand.

Slide 26: Film Merchandise:

Since the movies the amount of merchandise available for sale on the internet and in shops is staggering.

Slide 27:   Books:

All of Tolkien’s titles are still available for sale at reputable book stores e.g. Amazon and if you want to buy old rare editions you can acquire them from places like Tolkien Shop or Tolkien Library on the internet.

There are many other publications written about Tolkien and his works. In fact there are more books written about Tolkien and his works than any other modern day author. There are literally hundreds of titles.

Slide28:   Tolkien Societies and other interest groups:

The Tolkien Society (1969) is an international organisation registered in the U. K. as an educational charity.  There are at least 65 smials world wide affiliated with the society.

There are a number of Tolkien Societies and Fan Groups in other European countries and in countries as far away as Peru, Japan and Turkey.

Slide 29:   New Movies:

The Hobbit is a three-part epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson. It is a film adaptation of the 1937 novel of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien and a prequel to The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings, returns as director of the film and also serves as producer and co-writer.

Slide 30:      Finis

Who would have thought that words written in the early 1930’s by an Oxford professor, on a blank page when he was marking School Certificate papers, would be the beginnings of the phenomenon we have today.


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BTF Presentations for Libraries, Conventions and Expos.

Below is a summary of  Presentations.

The Phenomenon  of Tolkien’s World: Books, Movies, Music, Games

Supported by a slide show presentation this interesting talk follows the early years of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life up to the publishing of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and then traces the development of the cultural phenomenon that his works have become today.

The Life and Times of Tolkien:

A revealing talk that follows Tolkien’s life through his early years, his romance with Edith Bratt, war service, Professor in Oxford, The Inklings, the development of his famous stories, the Cult of the Sixties and his later years.

The Hobbit in Pictures:

This is a delightful presentation of The Hobbit Story accompanied by Songs and beautiful pictures from leading Tolkien artists. Aimed at younger audiences, this presentation has been received with enthusiasm by adults who are young at heart as well.

Dragons: The Myths and Legends.

“Dragons” is an Audio Visual presentation that gives a general descriptive overview of Dragons in our own Mythology and then the Dragons in Tolkien’s Mythology. If you like Dragons and Tolkien…this is for your viewing.

The Father Christmas Letters:

A collection of letters written and illustrated by J.R.R. Tolkien for his children, they tell of the adventures and misadventures of Father Christmas and his helpers, including the North Polar Bear. Here we have another wonderful presentation full of colourful pictures and humorous stories sure to delight audiences of all ages.

Tales from the Shire:

Stories, poems and songs from Proudfoot’s own diary. This is an entertaining presentation suitable for all ages and is at times humorous revealing new insights into the Hobbits of The Shire…This presentation can be modified into a sing-a-long of Hobbit/Middle-earth songs to popular and well known tunes. This is a fun presentation for any gathering.

Poems from Proudfoot:

Reading his own written poems, Proudfoot takes us to the world of Middle-earth. The poems range from the humorous to the romantic and bring to life some of Tolkien’s most popular characters. Supported by music and beautiful pictures this is a memorable experience. One of these poems has led to two glorious paintings by a well known Tolkien artist.

The New Zealand Movie Locations of The Lord of the Rings.

Love The Lord of the Rings, Love New Zealand or just curious…This audio visual presentation takes the viewer to the beautiful and sometimes remote locations of New Zealand where The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was filmed. Created by the presenter, this video uses stills from the movies and photos taken on tour to create an interesting journey through the beauty that is New Zealand. A question and answer session about the videos follows the viewing.

The Hobbit Movie.

Presenting a review of the Hobbit movie with photos and some interesting facts and background information. The audience is invited to ask questions and relate their own thoughts and experiences.

Dreams of Another Land

“Dreams of Another Land” is a lovely book of poems written by Peter Kenny and illustrated beautifully be Sue Bradley.

This is Peter Kenny’s first published book inspired by his passion and interest in all things Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien. These poems grew out of his “Hobbit” work units he used in the classroom when he was a teacher. Through these units he encouraged pupils to write stories and poems about imagined lands. Poems and short stories he wrote as examples for students grew into a hobby which he pursued after he retired from the classroom.

Many of the poems in this publication were inspired by people Peter met during his travels overseas, friends at home, places he has visited and events he has attended.

Peter says lovers of Tolkien’s Middle-earth will recognise many of the characters and stories referred to in this publication, but with some differences.

Whether you are a Middle-earth fan or not, this book is a thoroughly enjoyable read and  will take you to a fantastic land of imagination and wonder.

You can purchase your copy of the book at Oloris Publishing.

Following are more reviews written by others who have read Peter’s book.

Stephanie Cotterell

Dreams of Another Land

Newsletter – April 2014

Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship has proudly donated

$2500 to the Pyjama Foundation from our fundraising.

  • Supa Nova Gold Coast
  • Second Breakfast Club.
  • Lunch at Proudfoot’s
  • Pearls Donation

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“Hope”: Brisbane Tolkien Reading Day.


The Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship celebrated International Tolkien Reading Day at The Logan North Library on Saturday 22nd March. This year’s theme for the event was “Hope”. The group presented a 2 hour program in an informal atmosphere, including readings from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Stories, Songs, poems and a comedy costume romp. (program videos at bottom of page)

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