Wednesday 16 August 2017

Tolkien in Love

For those who can receive BBC Radio 4 there is an interesting programme this Saturday (19th August) at 2.30pm. Tolkien in Love is a radio drama about how the great man (or boy as he was then since he was only 16) met and fell in love with the 19 year Edith Bratt but was then separated from her for 3 years by his priest guardian in order to complete his education and prepare for an academic career.  The couple remained faithful to each other during the separation, and Tolkien wrote to Edith on his 21st birthday asking her to marry him. She accepted though there were still one or two obstacles along the way as one finds out during the course of this drama. The play is described as based on real events that would later inspire the tale of Beren and Luthien, featured in the Silmarillion.

One fears the worst when anything like this is produced nowadays but I've heard a preview of the programme and I enjoyed it. The acting is good, especially, I thought, that of Claudia Jessie who plays Edith but the actor playing Tolkien, Will Merrick, is fine too though it's a bit of a shock to hear Tolkien played as a very young man with a present day accent, so firmly fixed in the mind is the image of him as a tweed-suited old gentleman with a pipe. But the modernisms are not too jarring. All in all I would definitely recommend it.


Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks for the 'heads-up' William - I shall give it a try.

There is still quite a bit not explicitly revealed (publicly) about Tolkien's marriage, including apparently a troubled period of separation (referenced in Warnie Lewis's Diary, and implicitly in the chronology in the Tolkien companion, when JRR and Christopher seem to have gone to live in lodgings for a short while, a couple of weeks?).

This may be related to Tolkien's 'nervous breakdown' after he was translated to the Merton Professorship and when he took time off work in the 1945-6 period.

I suppose the details may come-out after JRR's immediate family have died.

William Wildblood said...

As I say, I did enjoy it, Bruce. Once you get used to the very contemporary sounding voices there's a lot to appreciate in the story and the way it's presented. I'd be interested to hear what you think of it.

ted said...

Any way for those of us in the States to hear this?

William Wildblood said...

I'm afraid I don't know, ted. There's an online thing called BBC iPlayer which may give you access after the broadcast on Saturday but I think it's restricted to people in the UK. There might be ways round that but I don't know them.