Marquette University
Press Release

Marquette’s Tolkien manuscript collection to be part of exhibit at the National Library of France

Marquette loaned 80 pieces of its collection of Tolkien works to the library for the exhibit.

By - Oct 15th, 2019 03:17 pm
Raynor Memorial Libraries. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

Raynor Memorial Libraries. Photo courtesy of Marquette University.

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University’s original manuscripts and drawings by author J.R.R. Tolkien will be on display at the National Library of France in Paris as part of the exhibition “Tolkien, Journey to Middle-earth,” Oct. 22, 2019 – Feb. 16, 2020.

Marquette loaned 80 pieces of its collection of Tolkien works to the library for the exhibit. In total, the exhibit will feature nearly 300 pieces by Tolkien. The English writer is world famous for his many literary masterpieces including “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”

The nearly 11,000-square-foot exhibit is designed to transport visitors into Tolkien’s imaginary world, complete with its vast landscapes, cities, towers, people and languages. The exhibit marks the first time that many of the original manuscripts and drawings will be on display in France.

“We are incredibly proud to be able to share Marquette’s special Tolkien collection internationally and with such a prestigious library,” Janice Welburn, dean of Raynor Memorial Libraries, said.  “It is incredible to think so many more people are going to be able to see such a complete look at Tolkien’s creative works and appreciate their literary significance and place within greater culture.”

Many of Tolkien’s manuscripts in the exhibit contain calligraphy, sketches, outlines, watercolor paintings, drawings and maps. All of this will give visitors a better understanding of how Tolkien created the complex universe that is Middle-earth.

For more information about the exhibit, including dates, times and ticket pricing, visit the exhibition news release on the National Library of France website.

More about Tolkien’s works at Marquette University

Tolkien manuscripts have resided at Marquette University since 1957 after William B. Ready became director of Raynor Memorial Libraries. Ready recognized “The Lord of the Rings as a masterpiece long before it gained enormous popularity. Ready approached Tolkien through Bertram Rota, a well-known rare book dealer in London. At the time, no other institution had expressed an interest in Tolkien’s literary manuscripts. An agreement was made, and Marquette purchased the manuscripts for a little less than $5,000. The first shipment of material arrived in 1957; The Lord of the Rings manuscripts arrived the next year.

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