Marquette University News Release

How ‘The Hobbit’ came to Milwaukee

September 27, 2012

Tolkien expert shares how Marquette University obtained author’s manuscripts

Event Information
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 3
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Place: John P. Raynor, S.J., Memorial Library, Beaumier Suites, 1355 W. Wisconsin Ave.

MILWAUKEE – John Rateliff, a renowned J.R.R. Tolkien scholar, will share the story of how the Tolkien manuscripts came to reside at Marquette University on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 4:30 p.m. The event kicks off a year-long celebration in honor of the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit’s publication.

The free, public event will be held in the lower level of the John P. Raynor, S.J., Memorial Library, 1355 W. Wisconsin Ave., in the Beaumier Suites. Registration is recommended because space is limited, and can be done by calling (414) 288-7256.

Rateliff will share what motivated Marquette to pursue the Tolkien manuscripts in the late 1950s and how they were obtained. The collection includes multiple working drafts for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, along with an original watercolor rendering by Tolkien of the dust cover for The Hobbit and Thor’s map. Also obtained was the original copy of the children’s book Mr. Bliss, written and illustrated by Tolkien. The collection has grown and now includes books by and about Tolkien, periodicals produced by Tolkien enthusiasts, audio and video recordings, and a host of published and unpublished materials relating to Tolkien’s life and fantasy writings.

Rateliff has spent 30 years studying Tolkien’s papers. He received his doctorate in English from Marquette in 1990 and has published extensively on Tolkien’s work, including The History of the Hobbit, a definitive two-volume account of the renowned author’s first classic. Since The Hobbit was first published in 1937, more than 100 million copies have been sold and it has been translated into at least 40 languages.

The event is made possible by the Tolkien Archives Fund established by the late Richard G. Blackwelder and augmented by a generous donation from Trustee Emerita Mercedes Hurley Hughes. Upcoming events include a lecture on the art and creation of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, Thursday, Nov. 8, and roundtable discussion about Peter Jackson’s cinematic interpretation of The Hobbit, Thursday, Feb. 21.

The manuscripts are housed in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives located on the third floor of the John P. Raynor, S.J., Library. A permanent exhibit about the collection, including selected reproductions from the manuscripts, is located in the archives reading room. Visitors are welcome to view the exhibit during the department’s normal hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Archive staff members will also conduct two viewings of selected originals manuscripts from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on Friday, Oct. 26 and Friday, Nov. 16. Each presentation begins at 2:30 p.m. and will last approximately 45 minutes. Pre-registration is not necessary; walk-ins are welcome.

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About Andy Brodzeller

Andy Brodzeller

Andy is an associate director of university communication in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Andy at (414) 288-0286 or View all posts by .