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The Tolkien Society

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The Tolkien Society is a Tolkien Society and registered educational charity (number 273809) based in the U.K., but with members in at least 40 different countries throughout the world. They publish Amon Hen six times a year and the more scholarly Mallorn once a year.


The Tolkien Society was formed in 1969 by Vera Chapman, an Oxford-educated retired teacher/civil servant, who, horrified at the annexation of Tolkien's works by "hippies and drop-outs" decided to form a group dedicated to the true appreciation of Tolkien's works.

Initially London-based, the Society would meet in Vera's North London Flat; they kept in communication via a xerox'd newsletter called "Belladonna's Broadsheet" ( Vera adopted the name Belladonna Took as her Middle-earth alias)

The Society grew steadily, and Vera willingly passed over responsibility for the bulletin to other hands. A further, more scholarly, publication "Mallorn" also appeared.

Belladonna's Broadsheet went through a number of identity changes, being "Henneth Annun" for one issue before its then editor, John Martin, adopted the name it is still published under: "Amon Hen" (the first such being number 2).

The Society also undertook a pilgrimage to Oxford, exploring the colleges and sites relevant to J.R.R. Tolkien's life. Visit was made to Wolvercote Cemetery where wreaths in tribute were laid. At that first visit, it was found that a wild bramble had rooted in the topsoil of the grave. This was rapidly uprooted, and the Society offered to buy a rose plant, the offer of which Priscilla Tolkien - Tolkien's only daughter - accepted. The weekend event culminated with a visit to the home of Priscilla Tolkien.

This "Oxonmoot" grew to be an annual event, and in subsequent years other members of the Tolkien family, including two of the Professor's sons: Fr John, the Catholic priest, and Michael, a teacher based in Lancashire, also met with Society members.

Other annual events include the AGM & Annual Dinner (with Guest Speaker), held as part of a weekend of activities in the Spring in a different UK town or city each year, and the Seminar, presenting a programme of talks on a Tolkien-related subject, in the Summer.

Vera Chapman was invited to a lunch by Rayner Unwin, where she met Tolkien himself. At the lunch she invited him to become President of the Society, and also presented him with a handsome tobacco jar, filled with his favourite leaf.

Tolkien graciously agreed to the presidency of the Society; on his death, the other family members who were in touch with the Society suggested that he remain Honorary President "in perpetuo" and this was gladly accepted by the Society, with Priscilla Tolkien becoming Honorary Vice President.


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