Monday, January 17, 2022

An Update on Things Tolkien- and Inklings-Related

My short note "Tolkien's Friend Selby" on Tolkien's correspondence with G.E. Selby (1909-1987) was just published by The Tolkien Society in a recent issue of Mallorn issue 62, Winter 2021 (pp. 34-35). Selby's bookplate, at right, appears here courtesy of Oronzo Cilli. 

I'm very sad to report on the passing of my friend of over forty years, Tim Wickham-Crowley, in late October, after a battle with cancer. Tim was a sociologist, specializing in Latin America, but also a keen Tolkien fan (whose wife, Kelley, is a noted medievalist and Tolkien scholar). I commissioned his one contribution to Tolkien scholarship, a book review of Tolkien through Russian Eyes (2003), by Mark T. Hooker, which appeared in Tolkien Studies: Volume II (2005). Tim is greatly missed by all who knew him. A full obituary from The Washington Post appears at here

Timothy P. Wickham-Crowley
 A recent mailing of the Friends of Arthur Machen had an interesting notice in Machenalia about an "Inklings Festival and Arthur Machen" that took place in Wichita, Kansas, in October 2021. One of the speakers was Christopher Tompkins, of the Darkly Bright Press (a small US press specializing in Arthur Machen), who discussed the fact that Victor Gollancz, when reading the manuscript of Charles Williams's War in Heaven [then titled The Corpse] in March 1930, called upon Arthur Machen to be an outside reader for it. In the summer of 1927, when Gollancz worked as an editor at the publisher Ernest Benn, he had hired Machen to be a regular reader for Benn. Gollancz soon left Benn to found his own publishing firm, and since Williams's novel, like Machen's The Great Return (1915), has the Grail showing up in contemporary Britain, Machen clearly seemed to Gollancz a good outside reader. According to the report in Machenalia, "Machen made corrections to some Hebrew and Latin in the MS, corrections that appear in the final version. Since, in the correspondence with his publisher, Williams expressed an interest in seeing The Great Return, it seems he hadn't yet read it" (p. 6).  I look forward to Christopher Tompkins writing this all up.  

It's hard to believe that Chris Mitchell, Director of the Wade Center for nearly twenty years, died at age 63 as long ago as 2014. I can still hear his quite distinctive voice in my head from our many meetings. Recently published is a tribute volume, The Undiscovered C.S. Lewis: Essays in Memory of Christopher W. Mitchell (Winged Lion Press, 2021), edited by Bruce R. Johnson. Of course the content heavily favors C.S. Lewis, but there is one article on Tolkien, "Across Western Seas: Longing for the West in Tolkien's Legendarium," by Laura Schmidt, Archivist at the Wade Center (who worked alongside Chris for many years). And other Inklings are represented too, including Nevill Coghill, who appears in Walter Hooper's contribution (probably Hooper's final writing before his death in December 2020). In all it's a fine tribute to Chris, who passed away at far too young an age.

I note here the recent publication of Tolkien & The Lizard: Tolkien in Cornwall 1914 (2021) by David Haden. It is published only as a pdf--ordering information here. This is an independent offshoot of a larger project that Haden is current engaged on. Haden also maintains a fascinating Lovecraft blog, Tentaclii, which I recommend. And he has a further offshoot Tolkien publication, Cracks of Doom: Untold Tales in Middle-earth, which he describes as:

 "a fully annotated and indexed list of ‘Untold Tales’ in Middle-earth, pointing out the ‘cracks’ where new fan-fiction might be developed. There are 125 entries and these usually lightly suggest ideas for story development. It will also be useful for scholars seeking to understand what Tolkien “left out” and why, or those interested in ‘transformative works’ and fandom." 

Available as a Lulu trade paperback, or an ebook version via Amazon, the fuller details (and link to a sample pdf) are here.