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The magical world of Tolkien

5th April 2016

Curling up under the duvet, the written words from childhood tales come to life before lights out. Imagination takes over and a whole other world opens up. 'Tis the beauty of the book, no matter how many people read the same story, the vision we see in our minds eye is unique and known only to us.

Inside the book cover from Emma's copy of The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien

"We fell in love with dragons long before Smaug hit Hollywood"

Emma J Shipley's moodboard for the Mythical collection

Thanks to the unique vision of Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien's stories have been illustrated on the big screen for everyone to enjoy together. But we fell in love with dragons long before Smaug hit Hollywood. The story of The Hobbit: or There and Back Again written in 1937, began life as a bedtime story Tolkien told to his children. In case you haven't seen the film or read the book, consider this sentence as your spoiler alert! The hobbit hero of the tale, Bilbo Baggins, sets off on an epic quest, leaving the safe comforts of the shire to overcome conflicts with hungry trolls, sneaky Gollum and of course, Smaug the fire-breathing dragon. Tolkien's descriptions of misty mountains and dungeons deep had us hooked to follow the hobbit's journey for enchanted gold.

An illustration by Eric Fraser from The Hobbit

"The work of Tolkien will forever be in our hearts, my precious..."

Detail from the moodboard for the Emma J Shipley Mythical collection

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973) was born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. From a young age he mastered the essential Latin and Greek languages as part of the arts education of his day. Showing strength in linguistics, he continued on to learn Gothic, Welsh and Finnish languages and even made up languages of his own for fun. Educated in Oxford and eventually employed as a Professor there, he began writing down the bedtime stories he created. 

A Francis Mosley illustration taken from The Silmarillion

Tolkien would meet with C.S.Lewis and friends at the Eagle and Child pub on St Giles, Oxford, to form a social group called 'The Inklings'. They shared a common interest in writing and would meet to discuss manuscripts over drinks. Oh to share a drink with them!

An illustration by Francis Mosley from The Silmarillion

Tolkien went on to write a sequel to his well received Hobbit. You may have heard of it - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. This story grew to the trilogy we know and love today. Many of his other mythological tales were collected by his son and published as The Silmarillion, featuring works Tolkien had worked on and rewrote over more than 50 years. 

Detail from the original Emma J Shipley Drakon pencil drawing.

Thank goodness Tolkien was able to capture his imagination through writing, his words only help to expand the imaginations of all that read them. Because of this, the work of Tolkien will forever be in our hearts, my precious... 

For further information on J.R.R.Tolkien and his life, visit The Tolkien Society.

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