J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript

August 19 – December 23, 2022

Marquette University's Raynor Memorial Libraries and the Haggerty Museum of Art collaboratively present this exhibition focused on the work of celebrated author and artist J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), best known for his literary classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The exhibition considers Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, in terms of both the materials that Tolkien studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts that he created while developing his collected writings on Middle-earth. Professor Tolkien was deeply immersed in the complexities of manuscripts, and this exhibition will illustrate how different aspects of the manuscript tradition found expression within Tolkien’s scholarly life and in his creative writing. Founded on Marquette's J.R.R. Tolkien Collection, the exhibition also includes items borrowed from other repositories, including a significant number of Tolkien manuscripts and artwork from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. Many of the 147 items in the exhibition have not previously been exhibited or published. The exhibition is accompanied by a 196-page hardbound catalogue that reproduces the complete object list, and includes introductory essays by exhibition co-curators William M. Fliss, PhD and Sarah C. Schaefer, PhD. 

Please note that photography is not permitted in this exhibition.

Go here for information about the full suite of public programs presented in conjunction with the exhibition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Exhibition Programming

Remarks by Simon Tolkien

August 11, 2022 Santa Barbara, CA Videography by Nicholas Tolkien, Edited by Sarah Schaefer, 9:05 minutes

Simon Tolkien is an author, a director of the Tolkien Estate, and the grandson of J.R.R Tolkien. He lives and works in Santa Barbara, California. Upon the opening of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript at the Haggerty Museum of Art, Tolkien wrote remarks reflecting upon both his memories of his grandfather and the relevance of this exhibition to J.R.R. Tolkien's work. This recording of Simon Tolkien reading his remarks was screened during the exhibition's opening reception, and is made available here through generous cooperation from the Tolkien Estate.

On Thursday, October 13, 2022,  Dr. Holly Ordway presented Tolkien's Faith and the Foundations of Middle-earth lecture. Dr. Holly Ordway is a rising star among J.R.R. Tolkien scholars. Her 2021 book Tolkien’s Modern Reading is a tour de force destined to become a classic in Tolkien studies. Ordway demonstrated that Tolkien, usually pigeonholed as a medievalist, was remarkably well-read in modern literature. Currently on faculty at Houston Baptist University, Dr. Ordway has taught English at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and MiraCosta College. She specializes in J.R.R. Tolkien and, more generally, in mythopoeic literature. Ordway's current research project is a book-length treatment of Tolkien's Catholicism.

Videos of the lectures by Carl Hostetter and John Garth were removed from this site when the exhibition closed. Because the lectures incorporated images of Tolkien manuscripts, the Tolkien Estate permitted them to remain published only for the duration of the exhibition.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript is presented through generous support from Premier Sponsor Wintrust.

Additional support is provided by Travel Wisconsin and Contributing Sponsors The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and Dr. Mary Anne Siderits.

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image credit: Marquette MS. Tolkien 3/4/12/1a. ©The Tolkien Estate Limited