Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. How it all started

Broad Street, Oxford
Broad Street, Oxford

In this short blog post I would love to show you what the fans were told beforehand of Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth: the trailers, the sneak peeks and what the media had to say about the upcoming exhibition.

The Guardian titled Unpublished art by Lord of the Rings creator JRR Tolkien goes on show in its March 24, 2018, piece. Rare and diverse paintings and drawings reveal visual talents of celebrated Oxford author was the subtitle and this was echoed along the board by other publications. Earlier in the year, the Oxford Times did itself proud with their opening line: Lovers of the works of JRR Tolkien can be expected to make their own quest to Oxford this year, as the city’s Bodleian Library hosts treasures almost as precious as the Dark Lord Sauron’s One Ring. It became pretty clear early on that ‘art’ was very much going to be in the foreground. For the Bodleian Libraries’ very own press release see here. and interestingly enough in the post celebrating Christopher Tolkien being awarded the Bodley Medal on Nov 3, 2016, it was already mentioned an exhibition was forthcoming.

The Bodleian Libraries themselves showed what they had in mind when it comes to merchandise – all of it excellent, I daresay – in this huge Medium post.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth merchandise. (c) Bodleian Libraries and The Tolkien Estate Limited
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth merchandise. (c) Bodleian Libraries and The Tolkien Estate Limited

However, this wasn’t the only Medium post: On May, 31st, the day of the vernissage, there was another post on one of the centrepieces of the exhibition – a 3d map of Middle-earth, depicting the Fellowship’s travels until the destruction of the One Ring. The map itself was done by Factum Arte.

Social media to rule them all – and this exhibition

With this exhibition the Bodleian Libraries really made great use of social media, particularly Twitter, as you can see from the following tweets using the hashtag #BODTolkien; for their introductory videos see this.

First ever mention of Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth online

The Bodleian Libraries published the first pieces of information on March 17, 2017, via their website:

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth will explore the full breadth of Tolkien’s unique literary imagination from his creation of Middle-earth, the imagined world where The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and his other works are set, to his life and work as an artist, poet, medievalist and scholar of languages.

Marcel R. Bülles

Marcel R. Bülles is the author of, 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.