History of Tolkien’s life at Exeter College published

Exeter College, Oxford, UK. Fellows' Garden. (c) Marcel Aubron-Bülles
Exeter College, Oxford, UK. Fellows' Garden. (c) Marcel Aubron-Bülles

JR.R. Tolkien helped organise and participated in the sexcentenary celebrations of Exeter College, Oxford, in 1914. Now, exactly one hundred years later, the college has reached the 700 years mark and has recently published a short book on the time one of its most famous former students spent there. Written by John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, it includes all new material including some spectacular pictures of the young Tolkien.

UPDATE Nov 2023. See below.

The 64 pages long book was first made available at Oxonmoot 2014, the major annual event organised by the Tolkien Society – in Oxford, of course. Author John Garth was one of the speakers present and he kindly enough signed my copy which I was given by my good pal Gondtengwen – thanks again! If you are wondering about what John Garth wrote on my copy – don’t be surprised: I translated his book Tolkien and the Great War into German (with my colleague Birgit Herden) and it has been published this year by Hobbitpresse, Stuttgart, as Tolkien und der Erste Weltkrieg. And I’d love to translate that booklet into German, do you hear, Exeter College? 🙂

Tolkien at Exeter College (c) Exeter College, Oxford, UK and John Garth
Tolkien at Exeter College (c) Exeter College, Oxford, UK and John Garth

Tolkien at Exeter College: How an Oxford undergraduate created Middle-earth is the story of JRR Tolkien’s life as an undergraduate at Exeter College, from peacetime into war. It is also the tale of how he first created his mythological world in 1914–15.

Rich with archive material and original sketches by Tolkien – some never before seen – Tolkien at Exeter College is essential reading for anyone interested in Tolkien, Oxford, and the histories of Britain and of Middle-earth.

The booklet is available to purchase for £8 from the Development Office. Email development@exeter.ox.ac.uk or call 01865 279619 to purchase a copy today. [Source.]

UPDATE I have just been informed that Exeter College can only sell the booklet if you visit the college itself, that is, at the lodge in Turl Street, or if you are an Exonian yourself. If you want to order it please visit the author’s website where it can be obtained for £10 (UK delivery) or £15.10 elsewhere. [Information added: Oct 5, 2014.]

Just so you have an idea of how it would be for you to study at this beautiful college:

Exeter College, Oxford, UK. Fellows' Garden. (c) Marcel Aubron-Bülles
Exeter College, Oxford, UK. Fellows’ Garden. (c) Marcel Aubron-Bülles

Update Nov 2023. Time has gone by and John was able to put out a second, revised and much enlarged edition of this amazing publication. Yes, it is till available with the porter of Exeter College – I bought a copy myself there – and sometimes Blackwell’s may have a copy. You can always ask John to send you a copy, simply visit his website for more information.

Marcel R. Bülles

Marcel R. Bülles is the author of thetolkienist.com, a specialist blog centering on worldwide Tolkien fandom, geekdom and research. He works as a freelance translator, journalist and writer and is the founder of the German Tolkien Society as well as a co-founder to RingCon, Europe's formerly biggest fantasy film convention. You can find him in cafés all over the world sipping an espresso blogging, writing, reading. At one point he was married to an extremely lovely French lady by the nickname of Sauron. Yes, that Sauron. He is also active with the International Tolkien Fellowship on Facebook and the Tolkien Folk on Instagram.