I realize that, being occupied with the run-up to "Arsenic and Old Lace," I forgot to write about the first of a series of lectures the Marquette University Archives are giving in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the publication of "The Hobbit." This was Wednesday afternoon the 4th of October, and was given by our friend, Dr. John Rateliff, author of "The History of 'The Hobbit,'" which has become THE reference on Tolkien's first novel. John gave a very entetaining talk entitled "How 'The Hobbit' Came to Milwaukee," which set out the personalities and negotiations involved in Marquette's acquisition of the manuscripts of "The Lord of the Rings," which deal ended up having "The Hobbit," "Farmer Giles of Ham," and "Mr. Bliss" added in as sweeteners. John's history also exposed some fascinating what-ifs. Tolkien was actually invited to Marquette to give a series of guest lectures shortly after the papers arrived. Unfortunately, Tolkien never followed up on the invitation due to the press of other work at the time, and his wife's failing health. What topics Professor Tolkien might have addressed can only be speculated upon, since he left no notes of any plans.
Thursday, November 8th, Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull gave an illustrated talk on "The Art of the Hobbit." Hammond and Scull are authors of "J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator," and the new "The Art of 'The Hobbit,'" and are the recognized experts on Tolkien's drawings and paintings. Their lecture included Tolkien's works prior to "The Hobbit," showing development of his style, and went through drawings created specifically for the publication of the novel. This was a fascinating presentation and well worth seeing and hearing.
There will be one final presentation February 21 (Thursday), 2013 “A Roundtable Discussion on Peter Jackson’s 'The Hobbit'.” Members will be: Dr. Robin Reid, Texas A&M University, Dr. Yvette Kisor, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Dr. Edward L. Risden, St. Norbert College, and Richard C. West, UW-Madison, and they will be deconstructing the first installment of the new movie trilogy. These events are free and open to the public. It is necessary to call the Archives and reserve a seat however, as space is limited.