"Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth" is a "once-in-a-generation" exhibition about the Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien which includes many of his personal items and his artworks which are featured in his Books. The exhibition is curated by the Bodleian Libraries’ Catherine McIlwaine and will run from 1 June until 28 October at the Weston Library in Broad Street Oxford. Many of the items have not been in the same city since the writer's death.

Personal items and unseen artworks

The exhibition showcases three paintings by Tolkien himself which have not been seen before.

Along with the paintings, there are also maps, manuscripts and letters borrowed from the Bodleian Library's Tolkien archive, the Tolkien collection from Marquette University in Wisconsin US. The items showcase Tolkien not only as a writer but as an artist and a university professor. His personal items that are showcased include his tobacco pipes, his briefcase, his colouring pencils and watercolours.

Tolkien's 'rich imagination'

Keeper of Special Collections at the Bodleian, Chris Fletcher, said: “What is amazing is that this is a unique opportunity to see all aspects of his life brought together for the first time in one space to show the range of his activities, as a student, a soldier, an author [and more].

“[Tolkien's] imagined world was created through a combination of his deep scholarship, his rich imagination and powerful creative talent, and informed by his own lived experiences. We are incredibly proud to hold the Tolkien archive and to be able to share so many previously unseen items in this once-in-a-generation exhibition.” said Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian at the University of Oxford.

"I think Oxford really did help to provide the framework in which [Tolkien] was able to flourish as a literary genius."

Who is J. R. R. Tolkien?

For those of you that have been living under a rock for the past (at least) fifty years, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, former soldier and university professor; most famously known as the author of the "Hobbit" and the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogies.

He studied at the University of Oxford. He was born in 1892 and died in 1973.

His "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" series have both been made into popular movies and have earned many movie awards, including Oscars. His "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is now being made into a TV series.