Tom Shippey

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Tom Shippey
Tom Shippey by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Shippey in 2015.
Born
Thomas Alan Shippey

(1943-09-09) 9 September 1943 (age 77)
NationalityBritish
OccupationAcademic, writer
Known for Tolkien scholarship

Thomas Alan Shippey (born 9 September 1943) [1] is a British scholar and retired professor of Middle and Old English literature, as well as medievalism and modern fantasy and science fiction. In particular he is widely considered one of the world's leading academic scholars on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien about whom he has written several books and many scholarly papers.

Contents

Life

Youth

Shippey was born in 1943 in Calcutta, British India, where he also spent the first years of his life. [1] [2] He was sent to a boarding school in Scotland, and studied at King Edward's School in Birmingham from 1954 to 1960. [3]

When he was 14 years old, he was lent The Hobbit . [4] Like Tolkien, Shippey became fond of Old English, Old Norse, German and Latin, and of playing rugby. [2]

Academic career

After Shippey's graduation in the early 1960s he did not immediately start an academic career since the British economy of the time did not offer many jobs in academia. Only in the mid-1960s did he enroll at the University of Cambridge from where he graduated with an M.A. in 1968. [4] [5] He was awarded a PhD from Cambridge University in 1970. [5]

Shippey became a junior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, and then a Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, where he taught Old and Middle English. [3] In 1979, he was elected to the Chair of English Language and Medieval English Literature at the University of Leeds, a post once held by Tolkien. [6]

In 1996, after 14 years at Leeds, Shippey was appointed to the Walter J. Ong Chair of Humanities at Saint Louis University's College of Arts and Sciences, where he did teaching, research and publishing. He retired from there in 2008, and now lives in Dorset. [5]

Fiction

Under the pseudonym of "Tom Allen" he has written two stories that were published in anthologies edited by Peter Weston. The first published was the fantasy story "King, Dragon" in Andromeda 2 in 1977; the second was the science fiction novelette "Not Absolute" in Andromeda 3 in 1978. [7]

Under the pseudonym of John Holm, he is also the co-author, with Harry Harrison, of The Hammer and the Cross trilogy of alternate history novels. [1]

In addition to writing books of his own, he has edited both The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories, and The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories and reviews science fiction for the Wall Street Journal. [8] In 2009, he wrote a scholarly 21-page introduction to Flights of Eagles, a collection of James Blish works. [9]

Tolkien scholarship

In late 1969 or early 1970, Shippey wrote his first academic work on Tolkien. He then delivered a speech at a Tolkien day organised by a student association. This lecture, "Tolkien as philologist" became also influential for Shippey's view of Tolkien. Joy Hill, Tolkien's private secretary, was in the audience and afterwards she asked him for the script, for Tolkien to read. On 13 April 1970, Shippey received a seemingly formal letter from Tolkien. [3]

The two, Shippey and Tolkien, first met in 1972. Shippey was invited for dinner by Norman Davis who had succeeded Tolkien at the Merton Chair of English Language. When he became a Fellow of St. John's College, Shippey taught Old and Middle English using Tolkien's syllabus. [3]

Shippey's first printed essay, "Creation from Philology in The Lord of the Rings", expanded on his 1970 lecture. In 1979, he was elected into a former position of Tolkien's, the Chair of English Language and Medieval English Literature at Leeds University. His first book, The Road to Middle-earth , was published in 1982. At this time, Shippey shifted from regarding Tolkien as a philologist to a "traumatised author" as he called it. This would include writers affected by war like Vonnegut and Golding. [3] An enlarged third edition was published in 2005; in its preface he states that he assumed that the 1982 book would be his last word on the subject. [10]

Shippey appeared in several documentaries about Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, for which he assisted the dialect coaches. [4] He summarized his experiences with the film project as follows:

"The funny thing about interviews is you never know which bits they're going to pick. It always feels as if they sit you down, shine bright lights in your eyes, and ask you questions until you say something really silly, and that's the bit they choose. At least they didn't waterboard me. But it was good fun, and I'd cheerfully do it again." [11]

As an acknowledged expert on Tolkien, Shippey serves on the editorial board of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review. [8]

Shippey's education and academic career have crossed paths in many ways with those of Tolkien: like Tolkien, he attended King Edward's School in Birmingham and both taught Old English at Oxford University. [12]

Bibliography

Books

Edited volumes

Documentaries

Awards

Related Research Articles

J. R. R. Tolkien English philologist and author, creator of classic fantasy works

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic, best known as the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The Inklings Informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England

The Inklings were an informal literary discussion group associated with J. R. R. Tolkien at the University of Oxford for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949. The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction and encouraged the writing of fantasy. The best-known, apart from Tolkien, were C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield.

Treebeard, or Fangorn in Sindarin, is a tree-giant character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He is an Ent and is said by Gandalf to be "the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth." He lives in the ancient Forest of Fangorn, to which he has given his name. It lies at the southern end of the Misty Mountains. He is described as being about 14 feet in height, and in appearance similar to a beech or an oak.

Rohan (Middle-earth) Fictional location in J. R. R. Tolkiens Middle-earth legendarium

Rohan is a kingdom of horsemen, the Rohirrim, in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy setting of Middle-earth. It is mainly a grassland, and provides its ally Gondor with cavalry.

The Mythopoeic Awards for literature and literary studies are given by the Mythopoeic Society to authors of outstanding works in the fields of myth, fantasy, and the scholarly study of these areas.

Mythopoeic Society Nonprofit organization

The Mythopoeic Society (MythSoc) is a non-profit organization devoted to the study of mythopoeic literature, particularly the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and C. S. Lewis, all members of The Inklings, an informal group of writers who met weekly in C.S. Lewis' rooms at Magdalen College, Oxford, from the early 1930s through late 1949.

The works of J. R. R. Tolkien have generated a body of research covering subjects such as Tolkien as a writer of fantasy, Old English literature and Tolkien's invented languages.

Paul H. Kocher

Paul Harold Kocher was a scholar, author, and professor of English. He wrote extensively on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien as well as on Elizabethan English drama, philosophy, religion, and medicine. His numerous publications include studies of Christopher Marlowe and Francis Bacon, as well as J. R. R. Tolkien. He also authored books on the Franciscan missions of 18th- and 19th-century California.

Douglas Allen Anderson is an American writer and editor on the subjects of fantasy and medieval literature, specializing in textual analysis of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

Verlyn Flieger is an author, editor, and professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland at College Park. She teaches courses in comparative mythology, medieval literature and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. She has written numerous books and papers on Tolkien and is well known as a Tolkien scholar.

Michael D. C. Drout is Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of the Medieval at Wheaton College. He is an author and editor specializing in Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature, science fiction and fantasy, especially the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and Ursula K. Le Guin.

<i>J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century</i>

J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century is a work of literary criticism written by Tom Shippey. It is about the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. In it, Shippey argues for the relevance of Tolkien today and attempts to firmly establish Tolkien's literary merits.

J. R. R. Tolkiens influences Sources of Tolkiens fiction

J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy books on Middle-earth, especially The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, drew on a wide array of influences including language, Christianity, mythology, archaeology, ancient and modern literature, and personal experience. He was inspired primarily by his profession, philology; his work centred on the study of Old English literature, especially Beowulf, and he acknowledged its importance to his writings.

The works of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, have become extremely popular, and have exerted considerable influence since their publication. A culture of fandom sprang up in the 1960s, leading to many popular votes in favour of the books, but acceptance by the establishment of literary criticism has been slower. Nevertheless, academic studies on Tolkien's works have been appearing at an increasing pace since the mid-1980s, prompting a thorough literary re-evaluation of his work.

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Elves are a fictional race inhabiting Middle-earth in the remote past. Unlike Men and Dwarves, Elves are immortal. They appear in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings, but their history is described more fully in The Silmarillion.

Orc Humanoid monster in Tolkiens fiction

An orc is a fictional humanoid monster akin to a goblin. Orcs were brought into modern usage by the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially The Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien's works, orcs are a brutish, aggressive, ugly and malevolent race, contrasting with the benevolent Elves and serving an evil power, though they share a human sense of morality; there is a suggestion, among several somewhat contradictory origin stories, that they are a corrupted race of elves.

<i>The Road to Middle-Earth</i>

The Road to Middle-earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology is a scholarly study of the Middle-earth works of J. R. R. Tolkien written by Tom Shippey and first published in 1982. Two further editions extended and updated the work, including a discussion of Peter Jackson's film version of The Lord of the Rings.

<i>The Annotated Hobbit</i> Douglas A. Andersons annotated version from the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Annotated Hobbit: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is an edition of J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Hobbit with a commentary by Douglas A. Anderson. It was first published in 1988 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first American publication of The Hobbit, and by Unwin Hyman of London.

Tolkiens maps Use of cartography in J. R. R. Tolkiens world-building

Tolkien's maps, depicting his fictional Middle-earth and other places in his legendarium, helped him with plot development, guide the reader through his often complex stories, and contribute to the impression of depth in his writings.

England in Middle-earth Englishness in Tolkiens Middle-earth

England and Englishness appear in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, more or less thinly disguised, in the form of the Shire and the lands close to it; in kindly characters such as Treebeard, Faramir, and Théoden; in its industrialised state as Isengard and Mordor; and as Anglo-Saxon England in Rohan. Lastly, and most pervasively, Englishness appears in the words and behaviour of the hobbits, both in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings.

References

  1. 1 2 3 "Shippey, Tom". SFE: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction , 3rd ed. (online, 2011–present). Entry by John Clute, 12 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
    Shippey co-wrote the entries on Magic and History in SF.
  2. 1 2 Hanley, Paul (8 February 2008). "Let us introduce you to ... Thomas Shippey, PhD". The University News.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Tom Shippey (2003). "Preface to the Third Edition". The Road to Middle-earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  4. 1 2 3 White, Claire E. "Talking Tolkien With Thomas Shippey".
  5. 1 2 3 "T.A. Shippey, PhD". Saint Louis University College of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  6. Hickes, Martin (10 September 2010). "JRR Tolkien and his overlooked connections with Leeds". The Guardian.
  7. William G. Contento, Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections
  8. 1 2 Shippey's WSJ reviews
  9. Blish, James (2009). Flights of Eagles (1st ed.). NESFA Press. ISBN   978-1-886778-86-3.
  10. Preface to the Third Edition. HarperCollins, 2005.
  11. "Transcript of chat session with Pr. Tom Shippey during The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun Online Release Party (09.05.09) – comments (1)". Tolkien Library. Pieter Collier.
  12. Shippey, Tom (2000). J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. London: HarperCollins. ISBN   0-261-10401-2.
  13. Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies 1984
  14. Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies 2001
  15. World Fantasy Awards. Special Award, Professional Winner 2001
  16. 1 2 Awards