Brum, land of fantasy
By Andy Shipley
Evening Mail – July 9, 2004
Fans of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien can visit the city influences behind his masterpiece next week.
The University of Birmingham is offering guided tours of the childhood haunts of the writer, born in South Africa but raised in Brum.
Included is a succession of homes that reflect the Tolkien family’s poverty.
Peter Leather, lecturer in Birmingham studies, said: “The same tour last year received rave reviews and led to the making of a DVD/video called The Real Middle Earth.
“The two big surprises for the participants are that Tolkien’s childhood ‘country’ haunts still survive in the suburbs of Birmingham and you can drive around the city for six hours without seeing a single factory or traffic jam!”
Among the more important influences on the budding genius were sites like Sarehole Mill and the Cole Valley, not to mention the “Two Towers” of Edgbaston.
The Plough & Harrow hotel, in Hagley Road, is also on the list, where Tolkien stayed in June 1916 as a 24-year-old – still nearly 40 years away from writing his masterpiece.
The author spent his last night at the hotel with his wife Edith before setting off for France, where he would serve with the Lancashire Fusiliers during World War I.
* Tolkien in Birmingham and Beyond runs from Friday, July 16, to Sunday, July 18, and costs £95 (accommodation not included). Details from Irene McKenzie on 0121 414 8065.
Read the article, Brum, Land of Fantasy