Since Oxford Libraries recently announced a new book and exhibit about J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, now is the perfect opportunity to listen to some archival audio from him.
The clips here were first shared by Eugene F. Douglass Jr. along with Maria Popova from Brainpickings. According to lore, Tolkien initially recorded himself reading The Hobbit in 1952. He was on a vacation to Worcestershire, and he stayed with friend and colleague George Sayer. Commercially available tape recorders were still fairly new, and Sayer had recently acquired one. With nothing better to do, the pair spent some time playing with device. Tolkien was fascinated by it, and his interest led him to make several audio recordings over the years.
The recordings here are just a few of the ones that survive. The one at the top of the page is of Tolkien reading from The Fellowship of the Ring, starting with chapter one. The clip below features Tolkien singing Sam’s “The Rhyme of the Troll” from chapter twelve of the same book.
Hearing Tolkien speak and sing is a wonderful opportunity. It’s also, I think, a great way to start off this week.