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As a way to intentionally anchor special collections with academic scholarship, the Special Collections of Azusa Pacific University Libraries has expanded its exhibits program.  This issue will feature curated exhibits from new and growing library collections.

“I AM IN FACT A HOBBIT:” Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Classic,” Curated by Roger White and Luba Zakharov

Poster Draft 7 copyInspired by a quote from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, (edited by Christopher Tolkien and Humphrey Carpenter, NY, Houghton Mifflin, 1981, p. 288-289), the title of the exhibit also has implications for the role that Tolkien played in the collaborative community known as, the Inklings.  As a way to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit, this exhibit drew on works by Tolkien showcasing not only his written works, but also his work as artist and illustrator, including less well known titles like, Mr. Bliss.


Azusa Pacific University Libraries collects works of Tolkien that are representative of the collaborative efforts modeled with his colleagues, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and other members of the Inklings. It was the Inklings who demonstrated a collaborative model that Dr. Diana Pavlac Glyer, details in her book, The Company They Keep:  C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community.  Glyer’s research is groundbreaking, detailing in-depth texts by Tolkien and Lewis that were shared between them for editorial and collaborative help.  It was in this way that the Inklings influenced each other, and aspects of this are seen in the volumes chosen for this exhibit.

HompenOne such title is, The Hompen, the first edition of The Hobbit translated into Swedish and thus, the first translation of any of Tolkien’s work. As a youth Tolkien was influenced by his cousins, Mary and Marjorie Incledon with whom he invented a language called Nevbosh and which later influenced his own invented language called, Naffarin.  After studying at Exeter, Oxford, his keen eye for languages landed him his first job working for the Oxford English Dictionary and later as a Reader at the University of Leeds, where he wrote, A Middle English Vocabulary.

The complexities of Tolkien’s books were a continual challenge for translators due in part to the worlds he created from invented languages.  Given his frustration with the many translations of his books, Tolkien responded by producing, The Guide to the Names in the Lord of the RingsDisplayed in this exhibit is an updated title that provides a similar, secondary resource, Hobbit Place-Names:  A Linguistic Excursion through the Shire by Rainer Nagel (2012).

HobbitDisplayCaseThe exhibit ran from August 30, 2012 – January 30, 2013 and drew the attention of the teaching community at Azusa Pacific University whose classes toured the exhibit.  For a full listing of the titles in this exhibit please contact Roger White, Curator of the Inklings Collection.  For a full inventory of all of JRR Tolkien’s writings, view the archival holdings at Raynor Memorial Libraries at Marquette University, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, or the Tolkien Library webpage.

“I am in fact a Hobbit in all but size.  I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking. I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats.  I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humor (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible).  I do not travel much.”

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien and Humphrey Carpenter. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, pg. 288-9.