Lost Tolkien Poems Found in School Annual

Christmas poem, love poem from 1936 'overwhelmed' UK principal who found them
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2016 4:56 PM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2016 10:00 AM CST
Lost Tolkien Poems Found in School Annual
In this 1967 photo, JRR Tolkien, author of "The Lord of the Rings," is shown.   (AP photo, file)

In August, a previously unseen JRR Tolkien retelling of a 19th-century Finnish epic was published. Now the world will get to experience two other lost Tolkien gems: a pair of poems the Lord of the Rings author penned for an English student publication in 1936, the New York Times reports. A Christmas poem called "Noel" and an early version of "The Shadow Man" (a later version of which is included in Tolkien's 1962 poetry collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil) were discovered by Stephen Oliver, the principal of Our Lady's School in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, after he received a call from a Tolkien scholar who said Tolkien had referenced the poems in a note, the Catholic Herald reports. Wayne Hammond let Oliver know that JRR's note had mentioned a magazine called the Abingdon Chronicle, which turned out to be the annual Our Lady's publication during that time period (Tolkien became familiar with the school while living nearby in Oxford).

At first Oliver wasn't able to hunt down the 1936 edition in the school's archives, but he finally hit upon a copy while getting the school ready for a commemorative event for ex-students. "Both poems are very atmospheric and imbued with an air of mystery," Oliver says, per the Guardian. "I was very moved when I first read them." "Noel" is "set in scenery that would not be out of place in Middle-earth," the Guardian notes, while Oliver says "The Shadow Man" is "a very beautiful story, about two people finding each other and thereafter casting only one shadow—it feels like a poem about marriage." He says the school plans to have the poems anchor an exhibit on the school's history. (A $92,000 Middle-earth map filled with Tolkien's notes was discovered last year.)

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