James Moffett, author of A Tolkienist’s Perspective blog, recently took us along on his journey to Oxford. In “A Journey to Oxford: A Tolkienist’s Pilgrimage,” Moffett shares a very personal account of his experiences walking in the footsteps of Professor Tolkien.
The presence of the Professor’s world is palpable throughout Moffet’s article. In the two hours it took for the bus to travel from busy London to the much quieter Oxford, Moffet’s mind shifted from the hectic modern world to thoughts of crossing into a world of fantasy, “perhaps, Middle-earth itself.” The village of Oxford helped weave the spell, with its look and feel of the quintessential English village: “The rustic aesthetic of the houses. The little hidden pathways with overhanging trees. The idyllic lifestyle.”
Moffett walked with us around Oxford’s quiet byways, visiting The Eagle and Child pub (formerly The Bird and the Baby), frequent gathering place for Tolkien and the Inklings in the 1930s and 1940s. Next, on to Northmoor Road, specifically Number 20 on that street, the house where Tolkien lived while writing most of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Moffet’s next stop was Merton College at the University of Oxford, where the Professor delivered many of his lectures and did much of his academic work.
The last stop on Moffett’s journey was the Cemetery of Wolvercote. The quiet, peaceful site on the northern outskirts of Oxford is the final resting place of Tolkien and his beloved wife, Edith. Signs along the cemetery’s paths lead you to the author’s grave, marked by an unassuming grey headstone, inscribed with the names Beren and Lúthien, according to Tolkien’s wishes. The grave was adorned with flowers, card, and other tokens of thanks and admiration left by fans. Standing there, for Moffett, “Time seemed to stop. . . . I felt as if I had achieved something important – something which was so strongly linked to my passion towards Middle-earth.”
Moffett’s “Tolkien Pilgrimage” clearly inspired him and deepened his connection with the great author and his work. You can read Moffett’s moving and beautifully written account of his personal journey “There and Back Again” on A Tolkienist’s Perspective.