J. R. R. Tolkien's influences
J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy books on Middle-earth, especially The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, drew on a wide array of influences including language, Christianity, mythology, archaeology, ancient and modern literature, and personal experience. He was inspired primarily by his profession, philology; his work centred on the study of Old English literature, especially Beowulf, and he acknowledged its importance to his writings.
He was a gifted linguist, influenced by Germanic, Celtic, Finnish, Slavic, and Greek language and mythology. His fiction reflected his Christian beliefs and his early reading of adventure stories and fantasy books. Commentators have attempted to identify many literary and topological antecedents for characters, places and events in Tolkien's writings. Some writers were certainly important to him, including the Arts and Crafts polymath William Morris, and he undoubtedly made use of some real place-names, such as Bag End, the name of his aunt's home.
Tolkien stated that he had been influenced by his childhood experiences of the English countryside of Worcestershire and its urbanisation by the growth of Birmingham, and his personal experience of fighting in the trenches of the First World War.
Tolkien was a professional philologist, a scholar of comparative and historical linguistics. He was especially familiar with Old English and related languages. He remarked to the poet and The New York Times book reviewer Harvey Breit that "I am a philologist and all my work is philological"; he explained to his American publisher Houghton Mifflin that this was meant to imply that his work was "all of a piece, and fundamentally linguistic [sic] in inspiration. ... The invention of languages is the foundation. The 'stories' were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows."
Tolkien was an expert on Old English literature, especially the epic poem Beowulf, and made many uses of it in The Lord of the Rings. For example, Beowulf's list of creatures, eotenas ond ylfe ond orcnéas, "ettens [giants] and elves and demon-corpses", contributed to his creation of some of the races of beings in Middle-earth, though with so little information about what elves were like, he was forced to combine scraps from all the Old English sources he could find. He derived the Ents from a phrase in another Old English poem, Maxims II, orþanc enta geweorc, "skilful work of giants"; The Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey suggests that Tolkien took the name of the tower of Orthanc (orþanc) from the same phrase, reinterpreted as "Orthanc, the Ents' fortress". The word occurs again in Beowulf in the phrase searonet seowed, smiþes orþancum, "[a mail-shirt, a] cunning-net sewn, by a smith's skill": Tolkien used searo in its Mercian form *saru for the name of Orthanc's ruler, the wizard Saruman, incorporating the ideas of cunning and technology into Saruman's character. He made use of Beowulf, too, along with other Old English sources, for many aspects of the Riders of Rohan: for instance, their land was the Mark, a version of the Mercia where he lived, in Mercian dialect *Marc.
Several Middle-earth concepts may have come from the Old English word Sigelwara, used in the Codex Junius to mean "Aethiopian". Tolkien wondered why there was a word with this meaning, and conjectured that it had once had a different meaning, which he explored in detail in his essay "Sigelwara Land", published in two parts in 1932 and 1934. He stated that Sigel meant "both sun and jewel", the former as it was the name of the sun rune *sowilō (ᛋ), the latter from Latin sigillum, a seal. He decided that the second element was *hearwa, possibly related to Old English heorð, "hearth", and ultimately to Latin carbo, "soot". He suggested this implied a class of demons "with red-hot eyes that emitted sparks and faces black as soot". Shippey states that this "helped to naturalise the Balrog" (a demon of fire) and contributed to the sun-jewel Silmarils. The Aethiopians suggested to Tolkien the Haradrim, a dark southern race of men.[a]
In 1928, a 4th-century pagan cult temple was excavated at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire. Tolkien was asked to investigate a Latin inscription there: "For the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one-half [its worth] to Nodens. Among those who are called Senicianus do not allow health until he brings it to the temple of Nodens." The Anglo-Saxon name for the place was Dwarf's Hill, and in 1932 Tolkien traced Nodens to the Irish hero Nuada Airgetlám, "Nuada of the Silver-Hand".
Shippey thought this "a pivotal influence" on Tolkien's Middle-earth, combining as it did a god-hero, a ring, dwarves, and a silver hand. The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia notes also the "Hobbit-like appearance of [Dwarf's Hill]'s mine-shaft holes", and that Tolkien was extremely interested in the hill's folklore on his stay there, citing Helen Armstrong's comment that the place may have inspired Tolkien's "Celebrimbor and the fallen realms of Moria and Eregion". The Lydney curator Sylvia Jones said that Tolkien was "surely influenced" by the site. The scholar of English literature John M. Bowers notes that the name of the Elven-smith Celebrimbor is the Sindarin for "Silver Hand", and that "Because the place was known locally as Dwarf's Hill and honeycombed with abandoned mines, it naturally suggested itself as background for the Lonely Mountain and the Mines of Moria."
Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic. He once described The Lord of the Rings to his friend, the English Jesuit Father Robert Murray, as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision." Many theological themes underlie the narrative, including the battle of good versus evil, the triumph of humility over pride, and the activity of grace, as seen with Frodo's pity toward Gollum. In addition the epic includes the themes of death and immortality, mercy and pity, resurrection, salvation, repentance, self-sacrifice, free will, justice, fellowship, authority and healing. Tolkien mentions the Lord's Prayer, especially the line "And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil" in connection with Frodo's struggles against the power of the One Ring. Tolkien said "Of course God is in The Lord of the Rings. The period was pre-Christian, but it was a monotheistic world", and when questioned who was the One God of Middle-earth, Tolkien replied "The one, of course! The book is about the world that God created – the actual world of this planet."
The Bible and traditional Christian narrative also influenced The Silmarillion. The conflict between Melkor and Eru Ilúvatar parallels that between Satan and God. Further, The Silmarillion tells of the creation and fall of the Elves, as Genesis tells of the creation and fall of Man. As with all of Tolkien's works, The Silmarillion allows room for later Christian history, and one version of Tolkien's drafts even has Finrod, a character in The Silmarillion, speculating on the necessity of Eru Ilúvatar's eventual incarnation to save Mankind. A specifically Christian influence is the notion of the fall of man, which influenced the Ainulindalë, the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, and the fall of Númenor.
Tolkien was influenced by Germanic mythology, especially its Norse and Old English forms. During his education at King Edward's School in Birmingham, he read and translated from the Old Norse in his free time. One of his first Norse purchases was the Völsunga saga. While a student, Tolkien read the only available English translation of the Völsunga saga, the 1870 rendering by William Morris of the Victorian Arts and Crafts movement and Icelandic scholar Eiríkur Magnússon. The Old Norse Völsunga saga and the Old High German Nibelungenlied were coeval texts made with the use of the same ancient sources. Both of them provided some of the basis for Richard Wagner's opera series, Der Ring des Nibelungen, featuring in particular a magical but cursed golden ring and a broken sword reforged. In the Völsunga saga, these items are respectively Andvaranaut and Gram, and they correspond broadly to the One Ring and the sword Narsil (reforged as Andúril). The Völsunga saga also gives various names found in Tolkien. Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún discusses the saga in relation to the myth of Sigurd and Gudrún.
Tolkien was influenced by Old English poetry, especially Beowulf; Shippey writes that this was "obviously" the work that had most influence upon him. The dragon Smaug in The Hobbit is closely based on the Beowulf dragon, the points of similarity including its ferocity, its greed for gold, flying by night, having a well-guarded hoard, and being of great age. Tolkien made use of the epic poem in The Lord of the Rings in many ways, including elements like the great hall of Heorot, which appears as Meduseld, the Golden Hall of the Kings of Rohan. The Elf Legolas describes Meduseld in a direct translation of line 311 of Beowulf (líxte se léoma ofer landa fela), "The light of it shines far over the land". The name Meduseld, meaning "mead hall", is itself from Beowulf. Shippey writes that the whole chapter "The King of the Golden Hall" is constructed exactly like the section of the poem where the hero and his party approach the King's hall: the visitors are challenged twice; they pile their weapons outside the door; and they hear wise words from the guard, Háma, a man who thinks for himself and takes a risk in making his decision. Both societies have a king, and both rule over a free people where, Shippey states, just obeying orders is not enough.
The figure of Gandalf is based on the Norse deity Odin in his incarnation as "The Wanderer", an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff. Tolkien wrote in a 1946 letter that he thought of Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer". The Balrog and the collapse of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm in Moria parallel the fire jötunn Surtr and the foretold destruction of Asgard's bridge, Bifröst. The Valar resemble the Æsir, the gods of Asgard. Thor, for example, physically the strongest of the gods, can be seen both in Oromë, who fights the monsters of Melkor, and in Tulkas, the strongest of the Valar. Manwë, the head of the Valar, has some similarities to Odin, the "Allfather". The division between the Calaquendi (Elves of Light) and Moriquendi (Elves of Darkness) echoes the Norse division of light elves and dark elves. The light elves of Norse mythology are associated with the gods, much as the Calaquendi are associated with the Valar.
Some critics have suggested that The Lord of the Rings was directly derived from Richard Wagner's opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, whose plot also centres on a powerful ring from Germanic mythology. Others have argued that any similarity is due to the common influence of the Völsunga saga and the Nibelungenlied on both authors. Tolkien sought to dismiss critics' direct comparisons to Wagner, telling his publisher, "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases." According to Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, the author claimed to hold Wagner's interpretation of the relevant Germanic myths in contempt, even as a young man before reaching university. Some researchers take an intermediate position: that both the authors used the same sources, but that Tolkien was influenced by Wagner's development of the mythology, especially the conception of the Ring as conferring world mastery. Wagner probably developed this element by combining the ring with a magical wand mentioned in the Nibelungenlied that could give to its wearer the control over "the race of men". Some argue that Tolkien's denial of a Wagnerian influence was an over-reaction to statements about the Ring by Åke Ohlmarks, Tolkien's Swedish translator. Furthermore, some critics believe that Tolkien was reacting against the links between Wagner's work and Nazism.[b]
Tolkien was "greatly affected" by the Finnish national epic Kalevala, especially the tale of Kullervo, as an influence on Middle-earth. He credited Kullervo's story with being the "germ of [his] attempt to write legends". He tried to rework the story of Kullervo into a story of his own, and though he never finished, similarities to the story can still be seen in the tale of Túrin Turambar. Both are tragic heroes who accidentally commit incest with their sister who on finding out kills herself by leaping into water. Both heroes later kill themselves after asking their sword if it will slay them, which it confirms.
Like The Lord of the Rings, the Kalevala centres around a magical item of great power, the Sampo, which bestows great fortune on its owner, but never makes clear its exact nature. Like the One Ring, the Sampo is fought over by forces of good and evil, and is ultimately lost to the world as it is destroyed towards the end of the story. The work's central character, Väinämöinen, shares with Gandalf immortal origins and wise nature, and both works end with the character's departure on a ship to lands beyond the mortal world. Tolkien also based elements of his Elvish language Quenya on Finnish. Other critics have identified similarities between Väinämöinen and Tom Bombadil.
Influence from Greek mythology is apparent in the disappearance of the island of Númenor, recalling Atlantis. Tolkien's Elvish name "Atalantë" for Númenor resembles Plato's Atlantis, furthering the illusion that his mythology simply extends the history and mythology of the real world. In his Letters, however, Tolkien described this merely as a "curious chance."
Greek mythology colours the Valar, who borrow many attributes from the Olympian gods. The Valar, like the Olympians, live in the world, but on a high mountain, separated from mortals; Ulmo, Lord of the Waters, owes much to Poseidon, and Manwë, the Lord of the Air and King of the Valar, to Zeus.
Tolkien compared Beren and Lúthien with Orpheus and Eurydice, but with the gender roles reversed.Oedipus is mentioned in connection with Túrin in the Children of Húrin, among other mythological figures:
There is the Children of Húrin, the tragic tale of Túrin Turambar and his sister Níniel – of which Túrin is the hero: a figure that might be said (by people who like that sort of thing, though it is not very useful) to be derived from elements in Sigurd the Volsung, Oedipus, and the Finnish Kullervo.
Fëanor has been compared with Prometheus by researchers such as Verlyn Flieger. They share a symbolical and literal association with fire, are both rebels against the gods' decrees and, basically, inventors of artefacts that were sources of light, or vessels to divine flame.
The extent of Celtic influence has been debated. Tolkien wrote that he gave the Elvish language Sindarin "a linguistic character very like (though not identical with) British-Welsh ... because it seems to fit the rather 'Celtic' type of legends and stories told of its speakers". A number of the names of characters and places in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been found to have Welsh origin. In addition, the depiction of Elves has been described as deriving from Celtic mythology. Though Tolkien wrote of "a certain distaste" for Celtic legends, "largely for their fundamental unreason", The Silmarillion may betray some Celtic influence. The exile of the Noldorin Elves, for example, has parallels with the story of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann, semi-divine beings, invaded Ireland from across the sea, burning their ships when they arrived and fighting a fierce battle with the current inhabitants. The Noldor arrived in Middle-earth from Valinor and burned their ships, then turned to fight Melkor. Another parallel can be seen between the loss of a hand by Maedhros, son of Fëanor, and the similar mutilation suffered by Nuada Airgetlám ("Silver Hand/Arm") during the battle with the Firbolg. Nuada received a hand made of silver to replace the lost one, and his later appellation has the same meaning as the Elvish name Celebrimbor: "silver fist" or "Hand of silver" in Sindarin (Telperinquar in Quenya).
Other authors, such as Donald O'Brien, Patrick Wynne, Carl Hostetter and Tom Shippey have pointed out similarities between the tale of Beren and Lúthien in the Silmarillion, and Culhwch and Olwen, a tale in the Welsh Mabinogion. In both, the male heroes make rash promises after having been stricken by the beauty of non-mortal maidens; both enlist the aid of great kings, Arthur and Finrod; both show rings that prove their identities; and both are set impossible tasks that include, directly or indirectly, the hunting and killing of ferocious beasts (the wild boars, Twrch Trwyth and Ysgithrywyn, and the wolf Carcharoth) with the help of a supernatural hound (Cafall and Huan). Both maidens possess such beauty that flowers grow beneath their feet when they come to meet the heroes for the first time, as if they were living embodiments of spring.
The Arthurian legends are part of the Celtic and Welsh cultural heritage. Tolkien denied their influence, but critics have found several parallels. Gandalf has been compared with Merlin, Frodo and Aragorn with Arthur and Galadriel with the Lady of the Lake. Verlyn Flieger has investigated the correlations and Tolkien's creative methods. She points out visible correspondences such as Avalon and Avallónë, and Brocéliande and Broceliand, the original name of Beleriand. Tolkien himself said that Frodo's and Bilbo's departure to Tol Eressëa (also called "Avallon" in the Legendarium) was an "Arthurian ending". Such correlations are discussed in the posthumously published The Fall of Arthur; a section, "The Connection to the Quenta", explores Tolkien's use of Arthurian material in The Silmarillion. Another parallel is between the tale of Sir Balin and that of Túrin Turambar. Though Balin knows he wields an accursed sword, he continues his quest to regain King Arthur's favour. Fate catches up with him when he unwittingly kills his own brother, who mortally wounds him. Turin accidentally kills his friend Beleg with his sword.
There are a few echoes of Slavic mythology in Tolkien's novels, such as the names of the wizard Radagast and his home at Rhosgobel in Rhovanion; all three appear to be connected with the Slavic god Rodegast, a god of the sun, war, hospitality, fertility, and harvest. The Anduin, the Sindarin name for The Great River of Rhovanion, may be related to the Danube River, which flows mainly among the Slavic people and played an important role in their folklore.
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields towards the end of The Lord of the Rings may have been inspired by a conflict of real-world antiquity. Elizabeth Solopova notes that Tolkien repeatedly referred to a historic account of the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields by Jordanes, and analyses the two battles' similarities. Both battles take place between civilisations of the "East" and "West", and like Jordanes, Tolkien describes his battle as one of legendary fame that lasted for several generations. Another apparent similarity is the death of king Theodoric I on the Catalaunian Fields and that of Théoden on the Pelennor. Jordanes reports that Theodoric was thrown off by his horse and trampled to death by his own men who charged forward. Théoden rallies his men shortly before he falls and is crushed by his horse. And like Theodoric, Théoden is carried from the battlefield with his knights weeping and singing for him while the battle still goes on.
Tolkien was also influenced by more modern literature: Claire Buck, writing in the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, explores his literary context, while Dale Nelson in the same work surveys 24 authors whose works are paralleled by elements in Tolkien's writings. Postwar literary figures such as Anthony Burgess, Edwin Muir and Philip Toynbee sneered at The Lord of the Rings, but others like Naomi Mitchison and Iris Murdoch respected the work, and W. H. Auden championed it. Those early critics dismissed Tolkien as non-modernist. Later critics have placed Tolkien closer to the modernist tradition with his emphasis on language and temporality, while his pastoral emphasis is shared with First World War poets and the Georgian movement. Buck suggests that if Tolkien was intending to create a new mythology for England, that would fit the tradition of English post-colonial literature and the many novelists and poets who reflected on the state of modern English society and the nature of Englishness.
Tolkien acknowledged a few authors, such as John Buchan and H. Rider Haggard, as writing excellent stories. Tolkien stated that he "preferred the lighter contemporary novels", such as Buchan's. Critics have detailed resonances between the two authors. Auden compared The Fellowship of the Ring to Buchan's thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps. Nelson states that Tolkien responded rather directly to the "mythopoeic and straightforward adventure romance" in Haggard. Tolkien wrote that stories about "Red Indians" were his favourites as a boy. Shippey mentions Tolkien's interest in the primeval forests and people of North America, and speculates that the romantic descriptions of characters in James Fenimore Cooper might have influenced his descriptions of Aragorn and Éomer.
When interviewed, the only book Tolkien named as a favourite was Rider Haggard's adventure novel She: "I suppose as a boy She interested me as much as anything—like the Greek shard of Amyntas [Amenartas], which was the kind of machine by which everything got moving." A supposed facsimile of this potsherd appeared in Haggard's first edition, and the ancient inscription it bore, once translated, led the English characters to She's ancient kingdom, perhaps influencing the Testament of Isildur in The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's efforts to produce a realistic-looking page from the Book of Mazarbul. Critics starting with Edwin Muir have found resemblances between Haggard's romances and Tolkien's. Saruman's death has been compared to the sudden shrivelling of Ayesha when she steps into the flame of immortality.
Parallels between The Hobbit and Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth include a hidden runic message and a celestial alignment that direct the adventurers to the goals of their quests.
Tolkien wrote of being impressed as a boy by Samuel Rutherford Crockett's historical fantasy novel The Black Douglas and of using it for the battle with the wargs in The Fellowship of the Ring; critics have suggested other incidents and characters that it may have inspired, but others have cautioned that the evidence is limited. Tolkien stated that he had read many of Edgar Rice Burroughs' books, but denied that the Barsoom novels influenced his giant spiders such as Shelob and Ungoliant: "I developed a dislike for his Tarzan even greater than my distaste for spiders. Spiders I had met long before Burroughs began to write, and I do not think he is in any way responsible for Shelob. At any rate I retain no memory of the Siths or the Apts."
The Ent attack on Isengard was inspired by "Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane" in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers has likewise been shown to have reflections in Tolkien. A major influence was the Arts and Crafts polymath William Morris. Tolkien wished to imitate the style and content of Morris's prose and poetry romances, and made use of elements such as the Dead Marshes and Mirkwood. Another was the fantasy author George MacDonald, who wrote The Princess and the Goblin. Books by the Inkling author Owen Barfield contributed to his world-view, particularly The Silver Trumpet (1925), History in English Words (1926) and Poetic Diction (1928). Edward Wyke-Smith's Marvellous Land of Snergs, with its "table-high" title characters, influenced the incidents, themes, and depiction of Hobbits, as did the character George Babbitt from Babbitt. H. G. Wells's description of the subterranean Morlocks in his 1895 novel The Time Machine parallel Tolkien's account of Gollum.
Some locations and characters were inspired by Tolkien's childhood in rural Warwickshire, where from 1896 he first lived near Sarehole Mill, and later in Birmingham near Edgbaston Reservoir. There are also hints of the nearby industrial Black Country; he stated that he had based the description of Saruman's industrialization of Isengard and The Shire on that of England.[c] The name of Bilbo's Hobbit-hole, "Bag End", was the real name of the Worcestershire home of Tolkien's aunt Jane Neave in Dormston.
In July 1915, when the United Kingdom was engaged in the First World War, Tolkien was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. Stationed in France, he would later take part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The metallic dragons that attack the Elves in the final battle of The Fall of Gondolin are reminiscent of the newly-invented tanks that Tolkien witnessed there. In a 1960 letter, Tolkien wrote that "The Dead Marshes [just north of Mordor] and the approaches to the Morannon [an entrance to Mordor] owe something to northern France after the Battle of the Somme".
After the publication of The Lord of the Rings there was speculation that the One Ring was an allegory for the nuclear bomb. Tolkien repeatedly insisted that his works were not an allegory of any kind; he states in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one. Shippey points out, however, that Leaf by Niggle "quite certainly" was an allegory. In general, Tolkien preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times. Tolkien had already completed most of the book, including the ending in its entirety, before the first nuclear bombs were made known to the world at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. An article by Manni and Bonechi addresses the influences of the Second World War on The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien was a core member of the Inklings, an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford between the early 1930s and late 1949. The group shared in Colin Duriez's words "a guiding vision of the relationship of imagination and myth to reality and of a Christian worldview in which a pagan spirituality is seen as prefiguring the advent of Christ and the Christian story." Shippey adds that the group was "preoccupied" with "virtuous pagans", and that The Lord of the Rings is plainly a tale of such people in the dark past before Christian revelation. He further writes that what Tolkien called the Northern theory of courage, namely that even total defeat does not make what is right wrong, was "a vital belief" shared by Tolkien and other Inklings. The group considered philosophical issues, too, which found their way into Tolkien's writings, among them the ancient debate within Christianity on the nature of evil. Shippey notes Elrond's Boethian statement that "nothing is evil in the beginning. Even [the Dark Lord] Sauron was not so", in other words all things were created good; but that the Inklings, as evidenced by C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, book 2, section 2, to some extent tolerated the Manichean view that Good and Evil are equally powerful, and battle it out in the world. Shippey writes that Tolkien's Ringwraiths embody an Inkling and Boethian idea found in Lewis and Charles Williams, that of things being bent out of shape, the word wraith suggesting "writhe" and "wrath", glossed as "a twisted emotion"; even the world became bent, so men could no longer sail the old straight road westwards to the Undying Lands. All the same, Shippey writes, Tolkien's personal war experience was Manichean: evil seemed at least as powerful as good, and could easily have been victorious, a strand which can also be seen in Middle-earth. At a personal level, Lewis's friendship greatly encouraged Tolkien to keep going with The Lord of the Rings; he wrote that without Lewis "I should never have brought The L. of the R. to a conclusion."
- In drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien toyed with names such as Harwan and Sunharrowland for Harad; Christopher Tolkien notes that these are connected to his father's Sigelwara Land.
- The DVD of Peter Jackson's film of The Return of the King ends with a quotation of the Siegfried theme from the Ring of the Nibelungen; the scholar of film and film music Kevin J. Donnelly writes that the reference is ambiguous, being possibly a musical joke, perhaps a comment on the similarity of the two stories, or maybe an oblique allusion to "the troubling racial imaginary of Tolkien's world and Peter Jackson's trilogy of films".
- The various tall towers in the Birmingham area, including Edgbaston Waterworks, Perrott's Folly and the University of Birmingham's clock tower, have repeatedly been suggested, without firm evidence, as possible inspirations for the towers in The Lord of the Rings.
- The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, #165 to Houghton Mifflin, 30 June 1955
- Shippey 2005, pp. 74.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 66–74.
- Shippey 2005, p. 149.
- Shippey 2001, p. 88.
- Shippey 2001, pp. 169–170.
- Shippey 2001, pp. 90–97.
- J. R. R. Tolkien, "Sigelwara Land" Medium Aevum Vol. 1, No. 3. December 1932 and Medium Aevum Vol. 3, No. 2. June 1934.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 48–49.
- "Junius 11 "Exodus" ll. 68-88". The Medieval & Classical Literature Library. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
- Shippey 2005, p. 54.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 49, 54, 63.
- J. R. R. Tolkien (1989), ed. Christopher Tolkien, The Treason of Isengard, Unwin Hyman, ch. XXV p. 435 & p. 439 note 4 (comments by Christopher Tolkien)
- Anger, Don N. (2013) . "Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 563–564. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 40–41.
- "RIB 306. Curse upon Senicianus". =Scott Vanderbilt, Roman Inscriptions of Britain website. Retrieved 17 February 2020. funded by the European Research Council via the LatinNow project
- J. R. R. Tolkien, "The Name Nodens", Appendix to "Report on the excavation of the prehistoric, Roman and post-Roman site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire", Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 1932; also in Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Vol. 4, 2007
- Armstrong, Helen (May 1997). "And Have an Eye to That Dwarf". Amon Hen: The Bulletin of the Tolkien Society (145): 13–14.
- "Tolkien's tales from Lydney Park". BBC. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
- Bowers, John M. (2019). Tolkien's Lost Chaucer. Oxford University Press. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-0-19-884267-5.
- Carpenter 1981, #142
- Carpenter 1981, #181
- "JRR Tolkien: 'Film my books? It's easier to film The Odyssey'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- Chance 2001, p. 192 harvnb error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFChance2001 (help)
- Bramlett, Perry (2003). I Am in Fact a Hobbit: An Introduction to the Life and Works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press. p. 86. ISBN 0-86554-851-X.
- Morgoth's Ring, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, pp. 322, 335
- Carpenter 1981, #131
- Carpenter 2000, p. 77
- Brown, Nancy Marie (2012). Song of the Vikings. London: St. Martin's Press.
- Byock 1990, p. 31
- Morris, William; Magnússon, Eiríkur, eds. (1870). Völsunga Saga: The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs, with Certain Songs from the Elder Edda. London: F. S. Ellis. p. xi.
- Evans, Jonathan. "The Dragon Lore of Middle-earth: Tolkien and Old English and Old Norse Tradition". In Clark & Timmons 2000, pp. 24, 25
- Simek 2005, pp. 163–165
- Simek 2005, pp. 165, 173
- Birkett, Tom (2020) . "Old Norse". In Lee, Stuart D. (ed.). A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien. Wiley. p. 247. ISBN 978-1119656029.
- Shippey 2005, p. 389.
- Shippey's discussion is at Shippey 2001, pp. 36–37; it is summarized in Lee & Solopova 2005, pp. 109–111
- Shippey 2005, pp. 141–143.
- Chance 2004, p. 169
- Petty, Anne C. (2013) . "Allegory". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
- Burns, Marjorie J. (1991). "Echoes of William Morris's Icelandic Journals in J. R. R. Tolkien". Studies in Medievalism. 3 (3): 367–373.
- Garth 2003, p. 86
- Jøn, Allan Asbjørn (1997). An investigation of the Teutonic god Óðinn; and a study of his relationship to J. R.R. Tolkien's character, Gandalf. University of New England.
- Flieger 2002, p. 83
- Burns 2005, pp. 23–25
- Shippey 2004.
- Ross, Alex (15 December 2003). "The Ring and the Rings". The New Yorker. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 388–389.
- St. Clair, Gloriana. "Tolkien's Cauldron: Northern Literature and The Lord of The Rings". CMU Libraries. Carnegie Mellon University.
- Carpenter 1981, #229 to Allen & Unwin, 23 February 1961
- Carpenter 2000, p. 54
- Brown, Larry A. (January 2009). "An Introduction, Notes, and Musical Examples. Part 1: Rhinegold". Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung. Retrieved 23 October 2003.
- Shippey 2007, pp. 97–114
- Harvey, David (1995). "Tolkien's Ring and Der Ring des Nibelungen". Retrieved 23 October 2003.
- Byock 1990. "The source for this quality seems to have been a relatively insignificant line from the Nibelungenlied, which says that the Nibelung treasure included a tiny golden wand that could make its possessor the lord of all mankind. "
- Needler, George Henry (ed.). "Nineteenth Adventure – How the Nibelungen Hoard was Brought to Worms". authorama.com.
The wish-rod lay among them, / of gold a little wand.
Whosoe'er its powers / full might understand,
The same might make him master / o'er all the race of men.
- Allan, Jim, Tolkien Language Notes, 1974
- Spengler (11 January 2003). "The 'Ring' and the remnants of the West". Asia Times. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Birzer, Bradley J. (3 August 2001). "'Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases': Tolkien, Wagner, Nationalism, and Modernity". ISI Conference on "Modernists and Mist Dwellers". Seattle: The Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
- Chism, Christine (2002). "Middle-Earth, the Middle Ages, and the Aryan Nation: Myth and History during World War II". In Chance, Jane (ed.). Tolkien the Medievalist. Routledge Studies in Medieval Religion and Culture. 3. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28944-0.
- Donnelly, Kevin J. (2006). Mathijs, Ernest (ed.). Musical Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings: Popular Culture in Global Context. Wallflower Press. p. 315. ISBN 978-1-904764-82-3.
- Gay, David Elton (2004). Chance, Jane (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien and the Kalevala. Tolkien and the invention of myth : a reader. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 295–304. ISBN 978-0-8131-2301-1.
- Carpenter 1981, #257
- Carpenter 1981, #1, footnote 6
- Chance 2004, pp. 288–292
- "Cultural and Linguistic Conservation". Retrieved 16 April 2006.
- Hooker, Mark (2014). The Tolkienæum: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien and his Legendarium. Llyfrawr. pp. 159–166. ISBN 978-1499759105.
- Carpenter 1981, #154, 227
- Tolkien 1977, p. 281.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "Note on the Shire Records", ISBN 0-395-08254-4
- Flieger, Verlyn (2001). A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien's Road to Faërie. Kent State University Press. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-0873386999.
- Purtill, Richard L. (2003). J. R. R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, and Religion. San Francisco: Harper & Row. pp. 52, 131. ISBN 0-89870-948-2.
- Stanton, Michael (2001). Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards: Exploring the Wonders and Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 18. ISBN 1-4039-6025-9.
- Carpenter 1981, #154
- Carpenter 1981, #131
- Flieger 2002, pp. 102–103
- Garth, John (2020). The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth. Frances Lincoln Publishers & Princeton University Press. pp. 12–13, 39, 41, 151, 32, 30, 37, 55, 88, 159–168, 175, 182 and throughout. ISBN 978-0-7112-4127-5.
- Carpenter 1981, #144
- Hooker, Mark (2012). Tolkien and Welsh (Tolkien a Chymraeg). Llyfrawr. ISBN 978-1477667736.
- Fimi, Dimitra (2011). Bogstad, Janice M.; Kaveny, Philip E. (eds.). Filming Folklore: Adapting Fantasy for the Big Screen through Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. Picturing Tolkien: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy. McFarland. pp. 84–101. ISBN 978-0-7864-8473-7.
- Rosebury, Brian (2003) . Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon. Palgrave. pp. 204–220. ISBN 978-1403-91263-3.
- Carpenter 1981, #19
- Fimi, Dimitra (August 2006). ""Mad" Elves and "Elusive Beauty": Some Celtic Strands of Tolkien's Mythology".
- Tolkien 1977, p. 357.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 193–194: "The hunting of the great wolf recalls the chase of the boar Twrch Trwyth in the Welsh Mabinogion, while the motif of 'the hand in the wolf's mouth' is one of the most famous parts of the Prose Edda, told of Fenris Wolf and the god Týr; Huan recalls several faithful hounds of legend, Garm, Gelert, Cafall."
- Hooker 2006, pp. 176–177, "The Feigned-manuscript Topos": "The 1849 translation of The Red Book of Hergest by Lady Charlotte Guest (1812–1895), ... The Mabinogion, ... is now housed in the library at Jesus College, Oxford. Tolkien's well-known love of Welsh suggests that he would have likewise been well-acquainted with the source of Lady Guest's translation. ... Tolkien wanted to write (translate) a mythology for England, and Lady Charlotte Guest's work can easily be said to be a 'mythology for Wales.'
- Jardillier, Claire (2003). "Tolkien under the influence: Arthurian Legends in The Lord of the Rings". Bulletin des Anglicistes Médiévistes, Bulletin de l'Association des Médiévistes Anglicistes de l'Enseignement Supérieur (63): 57–78. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
- Riga, Frank P. (22 September 2008). "Gandalf and Merlin: J.R.R. Tolkien's Adoption and Transformation of a Literary Tradition". Mythlore.
- Carter, Susan (22 March 2007). "Galadriel and Morgan le Fey: Tolkien's redemption of the lady of the lacuna". Mythlore.
- Flieger 2005, pp. 33–44
- Dunstall, Eadmund. "Orthodoxy in the Shire – A Tribute to J R R Tolkien". Orthodox England. St John's Orthodox Church, Colchester. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Pascual Mondéjar, Ignacio (2006). "Aragorn and the Arthurian Myth". Universitat de València Press.
- Flieger 2005, The Literary Model: Tolkien and Arthur
- Flieger 2005, pp. 41–42
- Flieger 2005, p. 42 "To Bilbo and Frodo the special grace is granted to go with the Elves they loved – an Arthurian ending, in which it is, of course, not made explicit whether this is an 'allegory' of death, or a mode of healing and restoration leading to a return"
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (2013) The Fall of Arthur, HarperCollins.
- Lezard, Nicholas (28 April 2007). "Hobbit forming". The Guardian. Review of The Children of Húrin.
- Orr, Robert. Some Slavic Echos in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, Germano-Slavica 8 (1994): pp. 23–34.
- Solopova 2009, pp. 70–73.
- Libran-Moreno 2011, pp. 100–101.
- Buck, Claire (2013) . "Literary Context, Twentieth Century". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 363–366. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
- Nelson, Dale (2013) . "Literary Influences, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 366–377. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
- Carpenter 2000, p. 168
- Hooker, Mark T. (2011). Fisher, Jason (ed.). Reading John Buchan in Search of Tolkien. Tolkien and the study of his sources : critical essays. McFarland. pp. 162–192. ISBN 978-0-7864-6482-1. OCLC 731009810.
- Auden, W. H. (31 October 1954). "The Hero Is a Hobbit". The New York Times.
- Shippey 2000, pp. 127, 347–348
- Resnick, Henry (1967). "An Interview with Tolkien". Niekas: 37–47.
- Nelson, Dale J. (2006). "Haggard's She: Burke's Sublime in a popular romance". Mythlore (Winter–Spring).
- Flieger 2005, p. 150
- Muir, Edwin (1988). The Truth of Imagination: Some Uncollected Reviews and Essays. Aberdeen University Press. pp. 121. ISBN 0-08-036392-X.
- Lobdell 2004, pp. 5–6
- Rogers, William N., II; Underwood, Michael R. "Gagool and Gollum: Exemplars of Degeneration in King Solomon's Mines and The Hobbit". In Clark & Timmons 2000, pp. 121–132
- Stoddard, William H. (July 2003). "Galadriel and Ayesha: Tolkienian Inspiration?". Franson Publications. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
- Hooker 2006, pp. 123–152 "Frodo Quatermain," "Tolkien and Haggard: Immortality," "Tolkien and Haggard: The Dead Marshes"
- Hooker, Mark (2014). The Tolkienaeum: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien and his Legendarium. Llyfrawr. pp. 1–12. ISBN 978-1499759105.
- Carpenter 1981, p. 391
- Anderson, Douglas A., The Annotated Hobbit (1988), 150
- Lobdell 2004, pp. 6–7
- Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure
- Carpenter 2000, p. 35
- Hooker 2006, pp. 117–122 "The Leaf Mold of Tolkien's Mind"
- Carpenter 1981, #1
- Carpenter 1981, #226
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937), Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), The Annotated Hobbit, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 2002), p. 183, note 10, ISBN 0-618-13470-0
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937), Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), The Annotated Hobbit, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 2002), pp. 6–7, ISBN 0-618-13470-0
- Gilliver, Peter; Marshall, Jeremy; Weiner, Edmund (23 July 2009). The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-19-956836-9.
- Carpenter 1981, #178303
- The Lord of the Rings, Foreword: "The country in which I lived in childhood was being shabbily destroyed before I was ten"
- Jahangir, Rumeana (7 December 2014). "The Hobbit: How England inspired Tolkien's Middle Earth". BBC.
- Kennedy, Maev (29 January 2013). "Bought for £1, the mysterious tower that inspired JRR Tolkien". The Guardian.
- "J. R. R. Tolkien". Birmingham City Council. 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- "Lord of the Rings inspiration in the archives". Explore the Past (Worcestershire Historic Environment Record). 29 May 2013.
Andrew Morton, used this catalogue as one of his sources and reproduced it in full. He discovered that the farm was owned by Tolkien's aunt in the 1920s and was visited by the author on at least a couple of occasions. The name is probably all that was used, as the farm bears little resemblance otherwise to the Hobbit dwelling of the books.
- Morton, Andrew (2009). Tolkien's Bag End. Studley, Warwickshire: Brewin Books. ISBN 978-1-85858-455-3. OCLC 551485018. Morton wrote an account of his findings for the Tolkien Library.
- Ciabattari, Jane (20 November 2014). "Hobbits and hippies: Tolkien and the counterculture". BBC.
- Carpenter 2000, p. 85
- "No. 29232". The London Gazette. 16 July 1915. p. 6968.
- Garth 2003, p. 221
- The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, #226 to Professor L. W. Forster, 31 December 1960
- Chance, Jane (2001). The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813190174.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. from Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. Macmillan Reference USA. Cited in "J. R. R. Tolkien Summary". BookRags.
- Tolkien, J.R.R. (1991). Foreword. The Lord of the Rings. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-261-10238-9.
- Shippey 2005, p. 49.
- Manni, Franco; Bonechi, Simone (2008). "The Complexity of Tolkien's Attitude Towards the Second World War". The Ring Goes Ever On: Proceedings of the Tolkien 2005 Conference. The Tolkien Society.
- Kilby, Clyde S.; Mead, Marjorie Lamp, eds. (1982). Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis. Harper & Row. p. 230. ISBN 0-06-064575-X.
- Duriez, Colin (2013) . "Inklings". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 295–297. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 224–226.
- Shippey 2005, p. 136, note.
- The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
- Shippey 2005, pp. 160–161.
- Shippey 2005, pp. 169–170.
- Anon (Newsweek Special Edition) (4 March 2017). "How C.S. Lewis Helped Encourage Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings'". Newsweek.
- Burns, Marjorie (2005). Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-3806-9.
- Byock, Jesse L. (1990). The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06904-8.
- Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981). The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-31555-7.
- Carpenter, Humphrey (2000) . J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-61805702-3.
- Chance, Jane (2001). Tolkien's Art: A Mythology for England. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-9020-7.
- Chance, Jane (2004). Tolkien and the Invention of Myth: A Reader. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2301-1.
- Clark, George; Timmons, Daniel, eds. (2000). J. R. R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-Earth. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-30845-4.
- Flieger, Verlyn (2002). Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World. Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-744-9.
- Flieger, Verlyn (2005). Interrupted Music: The Making Of Tolkien's Mythology. Kent State University Press. ISBN 9780873388245.
- Garth, John (2003). Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-57481-0.
- Hooker, Mark T. (2006). Tolkienian Mathomium: A Collection of Articles on J. R. R. Tolkien and his Legendarium. Llyfrawr. ISBN 978-1-4382-4631-4.
- Lee, Stuart D.; Solopova, Elizabeth (2005). The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature Through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien. Palgrave. ISBN 978-1403946713.
- Libran-Moreno, Miryam (2011). Fisher, Jason (ed.). 'Byzantium, New Rome!' Goths, Langobards, and Byzantium in 'The Lord of the Rings'. Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays. McFarland. pp. 85–115. ISBN 978-0-7864-8728-8.
- Lobdell, Jared C. (2004). The World of the Rings: Language, Religion, and Adventure in Tolkien. Open Court. ISBN 978-0-8126-9569-4.
- Shippey, Tom (2000). J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-261-10400-4.
- Shippey, Tom (2001). J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0261-10401-3.
- Shippey, Tom (2004). "Light-elves, Dark-elves, and Others: Tolkien's Elvish Problem". Tolkien Studies. 1 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1353/tks.2004.0015.
- Shippey, Tom (2005) . The Road to Middle-Earth (Third ed.). Grafton (HarperCollins). ISBN 978-0261102750.
- Shippey, Tom (2007). Roots and Branches: Selected Papers on Tolkien. Cormarë Series. 11. Walking Tree Publishers. ISBN 978-3-905703-05-4.
- Simek, Rudolf (2005). Mittelerde: Tolkien und die germanische Mythologie [Middle-earth: Tolkien and the Germanic Mythology] (in German). C. H. Beck. ISBN 978-3406528378.
- Solopova, Elizabeth (2009), Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J. R. R. Tolkien's Fiction, New York City: North Landing Books, ISBN 0-9816607-1-1
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-25730-1