J.R.R. Tolkien is most well known for his fantasy novels set in Middle Earth, with these works being highly influenced by historical literature and myths. Tolkien was an accomplished academic, working as a professor of Anglo-Saxon history and literature at Oxford University, his alma-mater. In addition to his notable fiction writing career, Tolkien also translated several Old and Middle English works, including Beowulf. Tolkien’s own translation of Beowulf, completed in 1926, was not published during his lifetime. However, Tolkien’s son Christopher ultimately edited and published his father’s translation of Beowulf in 2014. On display is a 1913 publication of Beowulf owned by Tolkien while he was still a student at Exeter College, Oxford. It is unclear how Tolkien’s personal copy of Beowulf ended up at Lehigh, but it was eventually checked out from the library’s circulating collection by a professor trying to preserve a unique piece of history. What makes this otherwise common publication of Beowulf worth keeping is its fascinating provenance, made evident by Tolkien’s stylistic signature.
Manchester: University Press, 1913.
Lehigh University Catalog Record: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/309729
A version of this text has been digitized and is available through the Internet Archive.