It is 100 years since Middle-earth began. The earliest glimpse of any character or situation from his mythology was in a poem, ‘The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star’, which J.R.R. Tolkien dated 24 September 1914. He wrote it at the home of his aunt Jane Neave, Phoenix Farm in Gedling, Nottinghamshire.
I examine Tolkien’s 1914 creative breakthrough closely in the forthcoming Tolkien Studies 11, I give a brief account of those findings in a centenary article for the Guardian, and I star in a Tolkien Society video speaking about it all to at the annual Oxonmoot gathering. What follows here is a further insight which didn’t make it into those pieces.
A century on, it’s worth probing whether this poem really counts as the first poem of Tolkien’s legendarium. Though Humphrey Carpenter identifies ‘The Voyage of Éarendel’ as ‘the beginning of Tolkien’s own mythology’ (Biography 79)…
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