The Tolkien Society
|Founded||6 November 1969 (informal)|
15 January 1972 (formal)
1977 (charitable status)
|Type||Educational charity, fan club, academic society|
|Key people||J.R.R. Tolkien (President)|
Priscilla Tolkien (Vice-President)
Sally Kennett (Chairman)
Alex Lewis (Secretary)
Henry Gee (Mallorn editor)
Andrew Butler (Amon Hen editor)
|Subsidiaries||Tolkien Society Trading Ltd|
The Tolkien Society is an international fan club and educational charity based in England. Founded in 1969 with the blessing of J.R.R. Tolkien, it has expanded its membership across the United Kingdom, Europe and the world.
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 Chapman's North London flat; they kept in communication via a photocopied newsletter called "Belladonna's Broadsheet" (Chapman had adopted the name Belladonna Took as her Middle-earth alias).
The Society grew steadily, and Chapman willingly passed over responsibility for the bulletin to other hands whilst a 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 its current name: "Amon Hen".
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.
Relations with J.R.R. Tolkien
In 1972 New Year Honours, Tolkien was made a C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) just two days before his birthday. Allen & Unwin had encouraged the Tolkien Society to write to Tolkien on the occasion, and they sent the following telegram:
CONGRATULATIONS ON 80TH BIRTHDAY AND HONOUR. ANOTHER 50 YEARS TO BEAT THE OLD TOOK.
THE TOLKIEN SOCIETY (IN BRITAIN)
—The Tolkien Society's telegram to J.R.R. Tolkien
The Society also published a congratulatory message in The Times on the 3 January in the 'BIRTHDAYS' section: "TOLKIEN. Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, C.B.E. Congratulations on your 80th birthday. 'Elen sila lumenn' omentielmo.' The Tolkien Society." As a birthday present, the Society also sent him a green china tobacco jar - designed with a huntsman and a white deer - which included best Latakia Mixture tobacco; attached was the following note:
FROM all Hobbits, Elves, Elf-friends, Dwarves, Ents, Numenoreans, Rohirrim, etc. etc. etc. of the TOLKIEN SOCIETY (in Britain) with love and honour and hearty congratulations, to the creation of so much wonder. Although not to be compared with true LONGBOTTOM LEAF, we hope that this will at least raise a few smoke-rings of happy recollection.
THE TOLKIEN SOCIETY
—The Tolkien Society's message to J.R.R. Tolkien on his birthday
Dear Mrs. Chapman,
May I thank you and the Tolkien Society for your good wishes and kind gift on my 80th birthday. I appreciated your generosity very much indeed.
J.R.R. Tolkien [signed]
—Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Vera Chapman, dated 6 February 1972
On the 27 June 1972, Vera Chapman was invited to a sherry party by Rayner Unwin, where she met Tolkien himself. After exchanging a few words with him about the belladonna plant, she asked if he would would be willing to be the Society's honorary president; he said "Certainly" before concluding, "If I can help your society in any way, I will."
Following the death of J.R.R. Tolkien in 1973, the Tolkien Society offered the post of Honorary President to Christopher Tolkien, Tolkien's son, but Christopher declined saying he thought the his father should remain president forever. At the AGM on 16 February 1974 the motion was passed that J.R.R. Tolkien should remain the Honorary President in perpetuo; he remains the Society's president to this day.
List of Chairmen
The following is a list of chairmen of The Tolkien Society. Italic text indicates an acting chairman who was appointed, rather than elected.
|Name||Term of office||Duration|
|Vera Chapman||29 January 1970||20 November 1970||296 days|
|Keith Bridges||20 November 1970||15 January 1972||1 year, 57 days|
|1||Keith Bridges||16 January 1972||17 February 1973||1 year, 32 days|
|2||Hartley Patterson||18 February 1973||16 February 1974||363 days|
|3||Jonathan Simons||17 February 1974||13 April 1985||11 years, 56 days|
|4||Brin Dunsire||14 April 1985||16 April 1988||3 years, 2 days|
|5||Alex Lewis||17 April 1988||11 April 1992||3 years, 360 days|
|6||Amanda Fingleson||12 April 1992||5 April 1997||4 years, 358 days|
|7||Chris Crawshaw||6 April 1997||19 April 2008||11 years, 13 days|
|8||Matthew Vernon||20 April 2008||8 January 2009||264 days|
|Sally Kennett||8 January 2009||25 April 2009||107 days|
|9||Sally Kennett||26 April 2009||present||3 years, 182 days|
The Tolkien Society organizes the following events annually:
- September: the Oxonmoot at one of Oxford's colleges.
- Spring: the Annual General Meeting.
- Summer: the Seminar.
Throughout the year Smials (e.g. local chapters) of the Tolkien Society also meet throughout the world.
The 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 Tolkien 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 town or city in the United Kingdom each year.
The Seminar consists of a program of talks on a Tolkien-related subject, in the Summer.
The Tolkien Society also organized unique events in recent decades, typically an anniversary around J.R.R. Tolkien and his works.
- ↑ Charles E. Noad, "The Tolkien Society - the early days" in Henry Gee (ed.) Mallorn 50, p. 17
- ↑ Sally Kennett, "Behind Glass Doors" in Andrew Butler (ed.), Amon Hen 235, p. 19
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Charles E. Noad, "The Tolkien Society - the early days" in Henry Gee (ed.) Mallorn 50, p. 21
- ↑ Charles E. Noad, "The Tolkien Society - the early days" in Henry Gee (ed.) Mallorn 50, p. 22
- ↑ Charles E. Noad, "The Tolkien Society - the early days" in Henry Gee (ed.) Mallorn 50, p. 23
- ↑ http://www.tolkiensociety.org/oxon/ (accessed 07-12-2011)
- ↑ http://www.tolkiensociety.org/agm/ (accessed 07-12-2011)
- ↑ http://www.tolkiensociety.org/seminar (accessed 07-12-2011)
- ↑ http://www.tolkiensociety.org/1992/ (accessed 07-12-2011)
- ↑ http://www.tolkiensociety.org/2005 (accessed 07-12-2011)
- ↑ http://www.returnofthering.org/ (accessed 07-12-2011)