Reading Tolkien: Where to Begin
A selection of titles by J.R.R. Tolkien for readers looking for a place to start:
- The Hobbit: The prelude to The Lord of the Rings in which Bilbo the hobbit, a band of dwarves, and Gandalf the wizard set off to recapture stolen treasure from Smaug the dragon.
- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: A selection of letters written by J.R.R. Tolkien to various correspondents, edited by Christopher Tolkien and Humphrey Carpenter. The contents of the letters give glimpses into Tolkien’s life, and provide additional information on his creative writings.
- The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien’s epic fantasy tale which takes readers to Middle-earth, the home of elves, dwarves, hobbits, and many other inhabitants. In this story Frodo the hobbit and his companions embark on a perilous quest to destroy the One Ring and defeat the Dark Lord Sauron.
- Smith of Wooton Major: A short story set outside of Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium in which Smith, the blacksmith’s son, finds a magical star in his piece of cake during the special Feast of Good Children. The star grants him passage to the realm of Faery where he has many adventures.
- Tree and Leaf: An anthology of shorter works by Tolkien featuring his autobiographical short story “Leaf by Niggle” and his famous essay defending and explaining the genre of fairy tales and fantasy literature, “On Fairy-Stories.”
J.R.R. Tolkien Resources
- Carpenter, Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
- ---. The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends. London: HarperCollins, 1997.
- Edwards, Raymond. Tolkien. London: Robert Hale, 2014.
- Tolkien, John and Priscilla. The Tolkien Family Album. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
- Drout, Michael D.C., ed. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship And Critical Assessment. New York: Routledge, 2007.
- Foster, Robert. The Complete Guide to Middle-earth: Tolkien's World From A to Z. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
- Hammond, Wayne G. & Christina Scull. J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1995. (see also by the same authors: The Art of The Hobbit, 2011; and The Art of The Lord of the Rings, 2015)
- Hammond, Wayne G. & Christina Scull. The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. (annotated Lord of the Rings)
- McIlwaine, Catherine. Tolkien: Maker Of Middle-Earth. Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2018.
- Scull, Christina & Wayne G. Hammond. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion & Guide. London: HarperCollins, 2006. (chronology of Tolkien's life and reader's guide to his works)
- Tyler, J.E.A. The Complete Tolkien Companion. New York: Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Griffin, 2004.
- Special Collections, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
- Bodleian Library, Oxford, England
[Note that for many of the Wade authors there are numerous smaller collections which hold primary materials in addition to those listed above. For more information, contact the Wade Center archival staff.]
- Tolkien Estate: Copyright management of Tolkien's works. Site includes additional content on Tolkien's writings, artwork, and languages.
- The Tolkien Society
- The American Tolkien Society
- Tolkien on BBC's Modern Writers: Not available in some areas
- Azusa Pacific Inklings Collection: Contains materials relating to the Inklings group, including publications from many of the lesser-known members
- Tolkien Fandom Oral History Collection: at Marquette University
- Tolkien Gateway
- Encyclopedia of Arda