In addition to being the world’s most famous author of fantasy, J. R. R. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at the Universities of Leeds and Oxford. I have published on the influence of Tolkien’s scholarly endeavours on his fantasy fiction, exploring, in particular, his medieval English sources. Below are my publications which are freely available in Open Access:

Medieval Animals in Middle-earth: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Old English and Middle English Physiologus

in: Figurations animalières à travers les textes et l’image en Europe, du Moyen Age à nos jours, ed. A. Schulte Nordholt & A. van der Haar (Leiden: Brill, 2022), 266-280

This contribution considers the influence of two medieval English texts on Tolkien’s fictional writings: the Old English and Middle English versions of Physiologus. As I will demonstrate, Tolkien was intimately familiar with the medieval bestiary tradition: he wrote two parodical bestiary entries and his description of spiders in The Lord of the Rings may have drawn inspiration from the entry for the spider in the Middle English Physiologus.

Open Access link:

Reshaping the Germanic Economy of Honour: Gift Giving in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

in: The World Tolkien Built, ed. R. Vink (Beverwijk: Unquendor & Uitgeverij IJmond, 2019), 7-26

In this paper, I argue that Tolkien found fault with some aspects of the role of gifts in Anglo-Saxon heroic literature and that his objections influenced the way gift giving is described in The Lord of the Rings. As such, Tolkien’s treatment of gift exchange in The Lord of the Rings can be linked to his critical stance towards other aspects of Germanic heroism.

Open Access link:

New Roads and Secret Gates, Waiting around the Corner: Investigating Tolkien’s Other Anglo-Saxon Sources

in: Tolkien Among Scholars, ed. N. Kuijpers, R. Vink and C. van Zon (2017 [for 2016], Beekbergen: Tolkien Genootschap Unquendor), 49-64

This article outlines briefly the methodology of studying Tolkien’s sources and then attempts to move beyond the early medieval English sources that have so often been the topic of research, such as Beowulf and The Battle of Maldon. The paper proposes hitherto unnoticed links between Tolkien’s fiction and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, Old English law codes and early medieval English archaeology.

Open Access link:

Tolkien Among Scholars: An Introduction

in: Tolkien Among Scholars, ed. N. Kuijpers, R. Vink and C. van Zon (2017 [for 2016], Beekbergen: Tolkien Genootschap Unquendor), 7-16

An introduction to the volume of conference proceedings of the international Tolkien conference ‘Tolkien Among Scholars’, organised at Leiden University (see Conferences).

Open Access link:

The Bones in the Soup: The Anglo-Saxon Flavour of Tolkien’s The Hobbit

in: Lembas Extra: 2012 Edition, ed. C. van Zon (2012, Beekbergen: Tolkien Genootschap Unquendor), 65–74

This paper focuses on the Old English sources of The Hobbit. After describing the relationship between Tolkien and Old English, the Anglo-Saxon material will be discussed that either directly influenced The Hobbit or attests to the fact that The Hobbit was written by an author who was familiar with the culture and writings of the early medieval inhabitants of England. By reading The Hobbit from an Anglo-Saxonist point of view, we not only learn more about what inspired Tolkien to compose his narrative, we can also highlight the enduring value of studying his original sources.

Open Access link:

De Middeleeuwen in Midden-aarde: J. R. R. Tolkien en zijn Oudengelse inspiratiebronnen

in: De populaire Middeleeuwen, special issue Madoc. Tijdschrift over de Middeleeuwen 32 (2018), 195–205

A Dutch article that explores how Tolkien was inspired by Old English sources in his creation of Middle-Earth.

Open Access link: