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How the Riders of Rohan suddenly became Anglo-Saxon (Opens in a new window)

Join me for my latest talk, as I follow the trail of the Riders of Rohan from the moment Tolkien invented them in 1939 to the moment in 1942 when Éomer and his éored finally galloped into The Lord of the Rings. Saddle up to hear discoveries about Tolkien’s creative methods and his inspirations, profoundly ancient as well as startlingly contemporary. You can expect the unexpected!

Without my Steady supporters, I would not have written this talk. I heartily thank you all!

In fact it began as a series of blog posts for my crowdfunding supporters (to follow on from my quartet on the name Wetwang (Opens in a new window)). But it quickly outgrew its origins.

If I’ve been an inactive blogger so far this year, it’s because I’ve been working hard to find the facts, to ponder them, and to build my case as straight and true as I can. It sounds like an orderly process. Far from it! I continued to dig for data and ponder its implications right up to the very end.

That means the investigation led to vital findings I didn’t expect when I set out. Beyond the talk itself, some of these will make an important addition to my long-awaited book, Tolkien’s Mirror. That’s the ultimate purpose of this Steady crowdfunding project.

So if you’re not currently supporting me but you appreciate my writings and my talks, please consider join my wonderful fundingcrowd. (That’s got to be a word, right?!)

I gave the talk on Friday 23 February at Oxford’s Classics Faculty – which (as you will see) was a highly fitting location. Many had made their way through the squally weather to listen. Several dug into their supplies to offer me a lozenge for my ragged throat. All stayed to make comments or listen to them.

To face so many prominent Oxford Anglo-Saxonists and Tolkienists (not to mention a Lewisian) lined up in the front rows was an unexpected privilege. If only Tom Shippey could have been there to hear what I had to say about his own ideas on the ‘Anglosaxondom’ of Rohan … I’m sure he would have had a thing or two to say!

For drawing my attention to Professor Shippey’s lecture ‘Tolkien’s turning point’, I’m grateful to Bill Fliss, archivist of the Lord of the Rings MSS at Marquette University, Milwaukee. I also thank Edmund Weiner of the Oxford English Dictionary for reading the talk in draft and making many helpful suggestions.

The talk is part of Oxford University’s Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series (Opens in a new window), a showcase of Tolkien scholarship among members of the university. I am honoured to be a member of the Senior Common Room (SCR) of Corpus Christi College, which enabled me to take part in the series. For nominating me and for organising the seminar series with Grace Khuri, I’m deeply grateful to Professor Giuseppe Pezzini.

Thracian horseman, 3rd century BC (Teteven museum) (Opens in a new window)
Topic The Lord of the Rings


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