Saturday 21 September 2019

Previously unseen Tolkien works to go on display

Manuscripts and illustrations about Beren and Luthien, referenced throughout The Lord Of The Rings author’s work, will be included.

JRR Tolkien in 1973 (The Tolkein Trust)
JRR Tolkien in 1973 (The Tolkein Trust)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Previously unseen works by JRR Tolkien about the mythical romance between his characters Beren and Luthien are set to go on display in a major exhibition.

The love story between a mortal man and an elf maiden appears in several of The Lord Of The Rings author’s works, including the posthumously published The Silmarillion and Beren And Luthien, which were both edited by the author’s son Christopher.

The tale follows mortal Beren and elf Luthien as they embark on a quest together and fall in love.


Following the final battle, Luthien revives the mortally-wounded Beren by renouncing her own immortality.

Original manuscripts and illustrations for the story will be displayed as part of the Bodleian Libraries’ forthcoming exhibition Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth.

It will include Tolkien’s illustrations of heraldry for both Beren and Luthien and will explore his creation of Middle-earth, made famous in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, as well as his life and work as an artist, poet, medievalist and scholar of languages.


Items that have never been displayed before include a page from the Quenta Silmarillion which introduces the tale of Beren and Luthien, Beren’s heraldic device and The Second Silmarillion map on which Beren and Luthien are mentioned.


Manuscripts, artwork, maps, letters and artefacts from the Bodleian’s extensive Tolkien Archive, the Tolkien Collection at Marquette University in the USA and material from private collections will also go on display.

The Bodleian Libraries houses the largest collection of original Tolkien manuscripts and drawings in the world and the Tolkien Archive has been kept at the Bodleian since 1979.


Catherine McIlwaine, Tolkien archivist at the Bodleian Libraries and curator of the upcoming exhibition, said: “The aim of this exhibition is to take visitors beyond what they may already know about the work of this extraordinary author – his talent as an artist, linguist and creator of the many different characters who lived in Middle-earth.

“The story of Beren and Luthien resonates with us today more than ever because it speaks of the possibility that love can transcend the differences that sometimes separate us.”

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth will run from June 1 to October 28 2018.

Entry is free but by ticket only. Tickets can be reserved on the day or in advance online at

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