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Douglas A. Anderson

"I first read Tolkien in the summer of 1973 when I was thirteen, and his writings have had a significant place in my life ever since. In the beginning, I marveled at the scope and detail of his creation, and spent two or three years reading and rereading The Lord of the Rings, while at the same time looking for similar fantasies (not that I found many). Since that time, my interests have evolved in various ways. I read Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of Tolkien soon after its appearance in 1976, and became interested in the man who wrote The Lord of the Rings, and in the medieval literatures in which Professor Tolkien himself was expert. I remember the excitement over the first publication of The Silmarillion–in September 1977, my first month away from home and at college. When the book finally appeared in stores, I snapped it up, and read far into the night, even skipping dinner. And I skipped my morning classes the next day in order to finish the book. (My college friends thought I was nuts, but I didn’t let that bother me.)

I attended a summer program at Oxford in 1978, and met for the first time other Tolkien enthusiasts who were members of the Tolkien Society in England. As my interests gravitated towards the relationship between a writer and his publishers, I became interested in the complex publishing history of Tolkien’s works. This eventually led to book on the publishing history of Tolkien, J. R. R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography (1993), of which I was the lesser co-author, while my friend Wayne G. Hammond was the primary author. The textual studies I was doing for the Bibliography led to a few offshoots. The first was the updating of the text of the U.S. (Houghton Mifflin) editions of The Lord of the Rings (for which I wrote the introductory "Note on the Text"). The second offshoot of bibliographical work was The Annotated Hobbit (1988), for it was the textual Appendix, detailing the changes Tolkien made to the text of The Hobbit over the years, that was the impetus for that book, and the part that was written first.

My interest in Tolkien’s sources, and in influences upon his writings, led to the 1996 reissue of The Marvellous Land of Snergs, a 1927 children’s book by E. A. Wyke-Smith, for which I wrote the introduction, with much help from Wyke-Smith’s own children. Snergs were half-sized creatures with names like Gorbo who lived in their own country, set apart from the lands of men. Tolkien’s children loved the Snergs book, and it was because his children wanted to hear more tales about Snergs that Tolkien wrote his tale about hobbits.

Tolkien’s writings have been occupied a large part of my mental landscape for nearly thirty years, and I expect that they shall do so for another thirty years, as I continue to study the man and his writings, and learn new ways to appreciate various aspects of his creative genius.

Douglas A. Anderson

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Current Tribute
  •  Robert Godwin

Past Tributes
  •  Lillian Stewart Carl
  •  Colin Duriez
  •  Elizabeth Chadwick
  •  David Brin
  •  Gene Wolfe
  •  Gregory Keyes
  •  Guy Davenport
  •  Patricia A. McKillip
  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Terry Pratchett

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Douglas Anderson

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Robin Hobb

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Harry Turtledove

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Lisa Goldstein

  •  Terry Prachett
  •  J.K. Rowling
  •  Christopher Kenworthy
  •  Charles de Lint
  •  Christopher Lee
  •  Douglas A. Anderson
  •  Sean Stewart
  •  Robert Burchfield
  •  Ursula K. Le Guin


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