Last chance to view the hugely popular Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth | Weston Library, Broad Street | 1 June - 28 October 2018

Book tickets for
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth

Visitors have just over a month left to view the Bodleian Libraries' once-in-a-generation exhibition, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, which closes on Sunday 28 October.

Tolkien's elvish - handwriiten

Since opening on 1 June, this stunning exhibition has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors from around the world, making it the Bodleian's most popular summer exhibition to date.

The unmissable exhibition presents the most extensive collection of materials related to J.R.R.Tolkien known to have been gathered together for public display, with more than 200 items including never-before-seen illustrations, letters, draft manuscripts, fan mail and personal objects. Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth examines the full breadth of Tolkien's unique literary imagination, from his creation of Middle-earth - the imagined world where his best-known works The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are set - to his life and work as an artist, poet, medievalist and scholar of languages. 

The free exhibition has received high praise from both members of the public and the press. Visitors have called the exhibition 'a truly remarkable experience', 'an adventure through Middle-earth' and 'a magical experience that really brings the books to life'. Tolkien fans, old and new, from the UK and overseas, including Japan, Norway, France, Mexico and the USA, have visited the exhibition, some leaving drawings and messages in Elvish in the visitor book. The Sunday Telegraph's five-star review of the exhibition praised it as an 'immersive experience' while The Spectator described it as an exhibition that 'gives us the real Tolkien.'

Conversation with smaug recoloured by Tolkien Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian, said:

"We are delighted at the incredible response to our Tolkien exhibition. We encourage visitors to make the most of the next few weeks to come and enjoy the unparalleled selection of Tolkien materials on show and discover more about this creative and literary genius."

Catherine McIlwaine, Tolkien Archivist and curator of the exhibition said:

"We knew that Tolkien was as popular today as ever but it's been amazing to see the response to the exhibition. I've spent five years preparing the exhibition and itís been brilliant to read the comments, hear people's reactions, and just see how busy the gallery has been."

In addition to the exhibition, a range of Tolkien-related talks and lectures continue at the Weston Library during the month of October including a special evening viewing on 9 October and a series of lectures exploring the medieval languages that Tolkien studied and taught. There's also plenty of time to use the Bodleianís online trail to take a self-guided walking tour exploring Tolkien's Oxford. For more information, visit

Once the exhibition closes at the Weston Library, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth travels to the Morgan Library, New York, from 25 January to 12 May 2019. In late 2019, the Bodleian Libraries and Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF), Paris will collaborate on the largest Tolkien exhibition ever to be held in France, and the first BNF exhibition to ever be held on a non-French author.

Tolkien illustration of Middle-earthThe exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated book, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, written by Tolkien archivist Catherine McIlwaine, released by Bodleian Library Publishing on 1 June 2018, priced at £40, hardback. A paperback edition is available only at Bodleian Library Shops, priced at £25. The book brings together the largest collection of original Tolkien material ever assembled in a single volume. A beautiful range of gifts and merchandise inspired by the exhibition is also available at the Bodleian Library Shops and online. More details at

The Weston Library is one of the newest cultural destinations in Oxford and has welcomed more than 2.7 million visitors since opening to the public in March 2015. The Library has also won a string of architectural awards and was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2016. 

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth was made possible through the generosity of The Tolkien Trust. The Bodleian Libraries gratefully acknowledges the close collaboration of the Tolkien Estate and the Tolkien family.

Entrance to this exhibition is free but ticketed and can be booked at

Visitors who have enjoyed the magic of the Bodleian's Tolkien exhibition may also be interested in the University of Oxford's Ashmolean Museumís autumn exhibition, Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft, open now until 6 January 2019. For more information, visit:


Image credits, top to bottom:

The fire-writing, MS. Tolkien Drawings 90, fol39r.
© The Tolkien Trust 2015 

Conversation with Smaug, MS. Tolkien Drawings 30.
© The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937

Annotated map of Middle-earth, MS. Tolkien Drawings 132.
© Williams College Oxford Programme & The Tolkien Estate Limited 2018

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