J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the most influential, beloved, and bestselling authors in the history of fiction. His work has been adapted into blockbuster films, been reprinted around the globe, and been celebrated by millions of fans for decades. But despite Tolkien's prominence in the world of fantasy fiction, English literature, and popular fiction in general, there is no literary center dedicated to the research of his work or to the ongoing creative efforts of writers who hope to follow in his footsteps. Now, a group of prominent Tolkien fans are hoping to change that with the help of a "Fellowship of Funders."
This week Project Northmoor, a UK-based charity, launched with the goal of purchasing the home the author once lived in at 20 Northmoor Road in Oxford. Tolkien lived in the home with his family from 1930-1947, crucial creative years in which he wrote The Hobbit and completed much of the work on its mammoth follow-up, The Lord of the Rings, but after the author moved out the house passed on to other owners.
Though it is a Grade II listed building and features a blue plaque commemorating the author's time there, the Northmoor house has not ever been a place Tolkien fans could actively visit. Now, with the house on the market, Project Northmoor hopes to change that. In the video below, Lord of the Rings stars Ian McKellen and John Rhys-Davies, The Hobbit star Martin Freeman, "Into the West" composer Annie Lennox, British author Julia Golding, and more Tolkien scholars and fans explain:
Project Northmoor's ultimate goal is to create a combination of writers retreat and research center, where creators and scholars can visit Tolkien's home — restored to the way it looked while he lived there — and reflect on his work while pursuing their own projects. To do that, the project needs quite a bit of money to get its nonprofit efforts of the ground, beginning with £4 million (about $5.4 million) to purchase the house.
If the fund goes a few hundred thousand pounds beyond that, the house can be restored, and with a hundred thousand more pounds beyond that (£4.6m) the project hopes to establish a financial assistance program for low-income visitors to take courses and be part of events at the house. Project Northmoor also aims to maintain a virtual component, so that writers and scholars may participate in events from around the world even if they aren't able to visit the physical house.
According to Project Northmoor's website, Golding has been able to negotiate a three-month window with the current owner of the Tolkien house to raise funds to purchase it, and that effort begins now. So, if you're a Tolkien fan and you have the means, consider helping a nonprofit group get hold of this landmark. Who knows? One day soon you might be writing the next great fantasy novel in one of the bedrooms.