Vintage Tolkien Fanzines

Don't forget the two or three poems released in Tolkien's lifetime--"The Dragon's Visit" and "Once Upon a Time," and "Bilbo's Last Song (at the Grey Havens)"--the last of them all, I think.

There's some uncertainty about "Bilbo's Last Song" in my mind. This

Bilbo's Last Song

cites a 1974 poster illustrated by Pauline Baynes. But that wasn't the first issue of the poem as a poster. I'm quite sure it was first released as text superimposed on a murky orange sunset photo or something of the sort. That version might have been released after Tolkien's death, too, but I'm not sure it wasn't released while he was alive.

The other two poems were first published in a British book, and then appeared in an American paperback, in one of the inaugural releases of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, The Young Magicians, Oct. 1969. "Dragon's Visit" is not a Middle-earth poem, but "Once Upon a Time" seems to be a "Bombadil" poem that introduces the mysterious lintips--probably to be taken as hobbit inventions.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

I've had The Young Magicians for many years. Lin Carter! His Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings is still one of my favorite Tolkien reads, superseded though it is in many ways. Like you, it set me off on a quest to read most (if not all) the earlier works in a vein similar to Tolkien's that Carter discusses. Among my favorites to this day are The Well at the World's End (William Morris) and The Worm Ouroboros (E.R. Eddison). In fact, I just re-read The Well last month. I still remember the enchantment I felt just from the titles of Dunsany's tales: "The Sword Unvanquishable Save For Sacnoth"; "The Hoard of the Gibbelins," and the others set "beyond the fields we know".

As for "Bilbo's Last Song", I always used to think it came from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Oops! It's a lovely poem though.

By the way, I appreciate the effort you've made documenting the history of Tolkien fandom. It's giving me a lot to work with.
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Gary Hunnewell ("Hildifons Took") is the master chronicler of Tolkien fandom, in Tolkien Fandom Review etc. He and I might begin working on a history of Tolkien fandom next year. My columns on the Days of the Craze have been appearing for five years in Beyond Bree. There are a couple of dozen of them, and they will be gathered with a bunch of other pieces in J. R. R. Tolkien: Studies in Reception, due out this year from Nodens Books. The Days pieces deal with Tolkienian sightings, e.g. mentions of Tolkien in Peter S. Beagle's I See by My Outfit, the Diplomat magazine material, echoes of Tolkien in Marvel comics, W. H. Auden's reported remark (in The New Yorker magazine) about Tolkien's "'hideous'" house, etc. I was able to find out about the first four or five Tolkien conferences, especially the first (Mankato, 1966) and the Belknap College one, plus early exhibitions of some of his manuscripts.

By the way, his art should be included in coverage of "what did we know and when did we know it" -- with his color paintings in early editions of The Hobbit, but dropped at least from the American reprints (Houghton Mifflin).

Oh, and there were at least a couple of tantalizing references to "Numinor" [sic] in C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength, published a decade before LotR, but giving the tiniest of glimpses of Tolkien's mythology. So in the long interim between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, there was that much, at least, of a peek at what was to come! Lewis's preface states, "Those who would like to learn further about Numinor and the True West must await the publication of much that still exists only in the MSS. of my friend, Professsor J. R. R. Tolkien." This amounted to little more than an in-joke at the time, but Lewis would go on to do much to get Tolkien to finish the book and then to publicize it. One could playfully consider the notion that in this way Tolkien's whole legendarium becomes linked with Lewis's splendid trilogy that begins with Out of the Silent Planet.
Ah--here we go. Scull and Hammond, The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader's Guide, p. 105: first publication of "Bilbo's Last Song" in English (preceded by a Dutch version a few months earlier!) was as a Houghton Mifflin poster, featuring "a gauzy photograph of a river," in April 1974, and so the better part of a year after Tolkien's death. The Allen and Unwin poster with Baynes artwork was released Sept. 1974. I've seen an image of the river-photograph one online, and it looked like a generic "inspirational" poster, as I recall. Tolkien gave the poem and its copyright to his secretary, Joy Hill.

So I'm thinking that, not counting fanzine, newspaper, and magazine bits, etc., Tolkien's last Middle-earth offerings seem to have been "Once Upon a Time" and the very tantalizing material at the back of The Road Goes Ever On--which did not originally include a setting of "Bilbo's Last Song."

It shouldn't be forgotten that in the late 1960s Tolkien gave us beautiful readings of several of his poems in the Caedmon Records release, Poems and Songs of Middle-earth. This didn't include new "information," but it was a real gift for lovers of Middle-earth even so. That's gone from LP to cassette to CD. Around 1975, Caedmon released two LP records of amateur recordings of Tolkien reading from LotR, made by his friend George Sayer. Those private recordings were made before LotR was published.
The Tolkien Society has made scans of some more old Tolkien fanzines available. You have to go to the members' area to access them. They include a couple of issues of Anduril, etc.
Those sources pretty well cover it. Have you seen the interview with Tolkien in Niekas #18?

There's a transcript of Henry Resnick's long telephone call to the Professor from back in the Days of the Craze (which I write about for Beyond Bree).
Just came across this accidentally while searching for something unrelated. Many thanks!
The link below leads to what, for me, may be the single most exciting digital fanzine archive of them all. Niekas was, as I've mentioned here already, the fanzine that published an outstanding interview with Tolkien. Lots of other Tolkienian material appeared there too, and I'll be exploring it for weeks to come, I expect, printing paper copies of plums.

I should say, for context -- I have paper copies of a complete run of Tolkien Journal, Orcrist, and Mythlore through its 90th issue (some of these are photocopies, not originals). I believe this material, or most of it, is also available online, at the Mythopoeic Society site. When I was a member of the (British) Tolkien Society, I had access to a digital archive of their publications and found some material to print out, although much of what was there didn't greatly interest me. I was a member 2001-2019, but decided not to renew my membership as too expensive for the quality of what I received, etc.

Niekas was not primarily a Tolkienian fanzine, so readers more interest in sf may find material that they will like better there.
I recommend Bill Meyers' "Tolkien and Temperaments" in his OLD BOTTLES column in this fanzine.

The Tolkien essay was reprinted in an issue of Fantastic, a prozine, published about the same time.


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