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Tolkien & Shropshire (specifically The Wrekin)

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Tolkien & Shropshire (specifically The Wrekin)

Postby Erekose » 02 May 2008, 19:44

I know I asked this before, but the questions been rasied by someone at work.

Is it true that Tolkien came to Shropshire and walked up the Wrekin, and that the Wrekin and the view to the West across the Shire was part of his "inspiration"?

If so, are there any specific references which support this?

I've managed to come across various references which state this to be the case as second hand statements, but with no reference to where the source for the statement comes from.

Any help will appreciate by the work mate :toothy-grin:
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Postby Sven » 02 May 2008, 20:12

Not that I know of. There isn't any mention of it in the index of Humphry Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, or his collection of Tolkien's letters. What I did find is this, if it helps.

J. R. R. Tolkien wrote:Letter to Michael Straight, editor of New Republic, probably January or February 1956

There is no special reference to England in the 'Shire'-except of course that as an Englishman brought up in an 'almost rural' village of Warwickshire on the edge of the prosperous bourgeoisie of Birmingham (about the time of the Diamond Jubilee!) I take my models like anyone else-from such life as I know.




Letter to Allen & Unwin Publishers, chastising them for wanting to translate the place names in LOTR in foreign editions, dated 3 July 1956

...The toponymy of The Shire...is a 'parody' of that of rural England, in much the same sense as are its inhabitants: they go together and are meant to.

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Postby galion » 02 May 2008, 20:18

As a Tolkienist of many decades (count 'em), I've never come across this. The Wrekin is a bit off his normal patch, which is Worcestershire and Warwickshire; these are far more likely to have provided the inspiration for The Shire. He comes near to stating this in the foreword to the second edition of Lord of the Rings, when mentioning his childhood.
The Wrekin, and Shropshire in general, are the literary property of A.E. Housman, author of "The Shropshire Lad", but who apparently didn't actually know all that much about Shropshire, being Herefordshire born and bred.
P.S.: for the benefit of US citizens outside New England, those Tolkienian counties are pronounced "Woostershire" and "Worrickshire". Godd-n Limeys ....
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Postby galion » 02 May 2008, 20:20

Simul with Sven.
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Postby Erekose » 02 May 2008, 22:03

Sorry.. my error.. was too quick trying to phrase the question(s)

I never intended to suggest that Shropshire?Wrekin was THE inspiration...

The questions are better phrased as...

Is there any official reference anywhere to Tolkien ever visting SHropshire?

If so, is there any official reference to Tolkien walking up the Wrekin?

If so, is there any official reference linking his doing so to the view being in part inspirational (as part of an alagmam of the "idylic English Country")

There do seem to be a number of references to Tolkien walking the Wrekin in serious webpages.. (BBC/Tourism/Heritage etc)

Urban Legend?
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Postby galion » 02 May 2008, 22:11

I don't recollect any mantion of the Wrekin or Shropshire either by Tolkien or anybody else writing about him. I have to say that some of the BBC sites are less reliable in my experience than Wikipedia.
Does anybody out there know of anything I've missed?
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Postby Rosie Cotton » 03 May 2008, 05:43

galion wrote:P.S.: for the benefit of US citizens outside New England, those Tolkienian counties are pronounced "Woostershire" and "Worrickshire".

Forgive me -- but is the oo in "Woostershire" pronounced like in wood, or in hoot?
(so I can say "Worcestershire Sauce" correctly) :blush:
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Postby galion » 03 May 2008, 07:09

Rosie, it's like "wood". Enjoy your sauce!
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Postby Rosie Cotton » 05 May 2008, 06:16

Thanks much, Galion! :grin:
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Postby galion » 05 May 2008, 08:28

BTW, when people come to England, Warwick is an attractive small city that definitely deserves at least an hour or so, even if you're not particularly interested in Tolkien (if you are, it's essential!!). It's certainly got more character than the nearby Straford-upon-Avon.
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