I believe I am the next Keeper of the Story in regards to Tolkien’s Trilogy. I have a mountain of evidence to support this conclusion, and will present it in increments.
I became captured in the Trilogy just before my near-death experience that attracted the attention of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love that was very anti-war. We were using LSD as a means to find a Path to Eternal Peace. We were Pathfinders.
When I and two companions climbed a dramatic rock at McClure’s Beach, high on LSD, I had a vision of us as Merry, Pippen, and Frodo, climbing the volcano of Modar to throw the Ring of invisibility into the lava. I slipped as I reached the zenith, and nearly tumbled to my death.
Tolkien was not happy that we hippies made his trilogy world famous, a resounding success. However, if you take away the drugs, then how can he have any lingering objections. I took away the drugs!
Before I met Rena Christiansen I delcared myself a New Pre-Raphaelite. The two paintings I did of Rena were in the Pre-Raphaelite style. William Morris’ ‘The Tale of the House of Wolfings’ had a powerful influence on Tolkien. Morris was a Pre-Raphaelite, his wife, Jane, was one of Rossetti’s Muses.
Tolkien fandom is an international, informal community of fans of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially of the Middle-earth legendarium which includes The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. “Fandom” implies a subculture marked by youthful enthusiasm but comparatively little sophistication compared to scholarly literary criticism and thus marks the popular aspect of the general topic of the reception of J. R. R. Tolkien. “Tolkien fandom” in this sense sprang up in the USA in the 1960s, in the context of the hippie movement, to the dismay of the author (Tolkien died in 1973), who talked of “my deplorable cultus”.
A Tolkienist is someone who studies the work of J. R. R. Tolkien: this usually refers to students of the Elvish languages and “Tolkienology”. The term Ringer refers to a fan of The Lord of the Rings in general, and of Peter Jackson’s live-action film trilogy in particular. Other terms describing Tolkien fans include Tolkienite or Tolkiendil.
Foster (2006) attributes the surge of Tolkien fandom in the USA of the mid 1960s to a combination of the hippie subculture and anti-war movement pursuing “mellow freedom like that of the Shire” and “America’s cultural Anglophilia” of the time, fuelled by a bootleg paperback version of The Lord of the Rings published by Ace Books followed up by an authorised edition by Ballantine Books.
The “hippie” following latched onto the book, giving its own spin to the work’s interpretation, such as the Dark Lord Sauron representing the United States military draft during the Vietnam War, to the chagrin of the author who talked of a “deplorable cultus” and stated that “”Many young Americans are involved in the stories in a way that I’m not” but who nevertheless admitted that
… even the nose of a very modest idol […] cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense!
Fan attention became so intense that Tolkien had to take his phone number out of the public directory and eventually moved to Bournemouth on the south coast of England.
This embracing of the work by American 1960s counter-culture made it an easy target for mockery, and resulted in The Lord of the Rings acquiring a reputation of a dubious work of popular culture rather than “real literature”, postponing the emergence of academic Tolkien studies by some twenty years, to the late 1980s.
The Lord of the Rings also from the mid 1960s acquired immense popularity in the emerging hacker culture, and the technological subcultures of scientists, engineers, and computer programmers, and flourishes there still. (Spangenberg 2006) It also figured as one of the major inspirations of the nascent video game industry and the evolution of fantasy role-playing games (Burdge 2006).
Many fantasy series written in the period were created by fans of The Lord of the Rings, such as the Shannara books by Terry Brooks.
A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds of the Mark is a fantasy novel by William Morris, perhaps the first modern fantasy writer to unite an imaginary world with the element of the supernatural, and thus the precursor of much of present-day fantasy literature. It was first published in hardcover by Reeves and Turner in 1889. Its importance in the history of fantasy literature was recognized by its republication by the Newcastle Publishing Company as the sixteenth volume of the celebrated Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy Library in April, 1978.
This book also influenced J. R. R. Tolkien’s popular The Lord of the Rings. In a December 31, 1960 letter published in The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, (p. 303), Tolkien wrote: ‘The Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme. They owe more to William Morris and his Huns and Romans, as in The House of the Wolfings or The Roots of the Mountains.” Among the numerous parallels with The Lord of the Rings, Morris has Old English-style placenames such as Mirkwood (p. 2), germanic personal names such as Thiodolf (p. 8), and dwarves as skilled smiths (“How the Dwarf-wrought Hauberk was Brought away from the Hall of the Daylings”, p. 97).
This work and its successor, The Roots of the Mountains, were to some degree historical novels, with little or no magic. Morris would go on to develop the new genre established in this work in such later fantasies as Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, The Wood Beyond the World, The Well at the World’s End, and The Water of the Wondrous Isles.
JANE BURDEN MORRIS: MUSE, WIFE OF WILLIAM MORRIS, ENGLISH PRE-RAPHAELITE