Marquette University is a private Jesuit research university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, established in 1881.
The university is well known for holding a large number of J.R.R. Tolkien's original manuscripts (more than 11,000 pieces). William Fliss is the Marquette University Archivist who maintains the collection. Matt Blessing was previously in charge of maintaining the collection (1999-2012).
History of the collection
In late December 1956 or early January 1957 William Ready, the Director of Libraries at Marquette University, was compiling the University's research-related collections and he asked Bertram Rota, a well-known London bookseller if she could approach J.R.R. Tolkien to see if he was willing to sell the original manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Rota wrote to Tolkien and prior to January 10th Tolkien replied.
On January 10th, Bertram Rota responded to William Ready at Marquette. Tolkien was willing to consider selling his manuscripts but asked what amount the University was willing to offer. He sent a list of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings material he considered selling. Rota suggested to Ready a minimum offer of £1,000, however she would have liked to examine the documents personally before the final decision was made. At last the price was set to £1500.
This arrangement was finalized in May of 1957, and a significant amount of material was transferred across the Atlantic that June, with The Lord of the Rings material being sent mostly in 1958 and later additional material being sent by Christopher Tolkien when discovered in his father’s papers.
- More that 1,500 pages (manuscript, typescript, and corrected proofs) for The Hobbit, including preliminary dustjacket designs.
- More than 200 pages (manuscript, typescript, and corrected proofs) for Farmer Giles of Ham, but not including notes for the foreword and unfinished sequel.
- The complete illustrated manuscript for Mr. Bliss, at more than 60 pages.
- More than 9,200 pages of material for The Lord of the Rings including the unfinished Epilogue, but not including almost all of Tolkien’s artwork.
The Marquette University has held a number of exhibitions focused on Tolkien.
- 1983 — "The Road Goes Ever On" (conference) and "The Manuscripts of J.R.R.T." (exhibition)
- Exhibition catalogue — The Manuscripts of J.R.R.T.
- 1987 — "J.R.R.Tolkien: The Hobbit Drawings, Watercolors, and Manuscripts" (exhibition)
- Exhibition catalogue — J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit: Drawings, Watercolors, and Manuscripts
- 1987 — "Selections from the Marquette J.R.R. Tolkien Collection" (exhibition)
- Exhibition catalogue — Selections from the Marquette J.R.R. Tolkien Collection
- 2004 — "The Invented Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien" (exhibition)
- Exhibition catalogue — The Invented Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien
- 2022 — "J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript" (exhibition, collaborate with the Haggerty Museum of Art)
- Exhibition catalogue — J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
- Marquette's archive of Tolkien's manuscripts
- Marquette University Library Tolkien Archives at Youtube.com
- Study Hobbits: University Offers J.R.R. Tolkien at Youtube.com
- The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology, pg. 498, 499.
- Historical context of the 2018 Bodleian Exhibition (accessed 11 June 2022)