Wow, November already. Where did October go? I suppose between the reading/book signing at the University Bookstore (and the preparation that went into that), the reading and signing in Milwaukee (ibid, since I prepared a different piece of text for that), the Blackwelder Lecture at Marquette, the visit to the Archives, the (too-brief) visit to the Wade Collection, some time with the in-laws, preparations for the trip to England, and then the two weeks in the Bodleian I let time get away from me; time now to get back to regular posting.
Many thanks to all who came to the two readings & book signings, and to those who co-ordinated the events and made them possible. I'm gratified the Blackwelder Lecture went as well as it did -- I'm told there were about ninety people in the audience, and I got to have some good discussions with people after the signings and lecture. Saw a lot of friends in Milwaukee whom I don't get to see nearly often enough. While at Marquette I spent my time in the Archives looking at the John Boorman movie script for his never-filmed LotR movie. It's full of fascinating ideas, but it's not Tolkien, not by a long shot. Those who whine about Peter Jackson's changes to the story, myself included, don't realize how lucky we were that Boorman didn't get to be the one who filmed his vision of Tolkien's world instead.
The long-planned, long-delayed trip to England was wonderful, and exhausting. The last time I was there was a very brief visit (arrive on a Friday, leave on Sunday) to be best man at two friends' wedding, and even that was almost fourteen years ago (Dec. 1994). The last time I was in the Bodleian was a single day during the Tolkien Centenary Conference in 1992, and then I was looking at C. S. Lewis's THE DARK TOWER (which some folks at the time were claiming wasn't genuine -- folks who never bothered to examine the Ms for themselves), not their JRRT materials. So this was really the first time since May 1987 -- twenty long years ago -- that I had time to delve into their Tolkien holdings. And what a collection it is! In addition to the many hours spent in the library, I also got to visit The Kilns (which I'd only seen once, from outside, twenty-six years ago), walked up to see Tolkien's house on Northmoor Road, got to meet my editor at HarperCollins, had lunch with one of the editors of the O.E.D., saw the bronzes of JRRT at Exeter College and the English Faculty Library (both times without knowing they were there until I glanced up and saw them), saw the First Emperor exhibit of terracotta warriors in the British Museum (amazing stuff), had tea with CSL's biographer, had tea with a member of the Tolkien family, toured a Welsh castle (the Temple of Nodens just down the road being closed), and got to see some old friends, some of them for the first time in years.
And now I'm back.