The celebrated annual Oxonmoot festival was held at LMH last weekend. The event, now in its 38th incarnation, attracted over 200 guests from across the globe and was organised by the Tolkien Society to celebrate the Oxford Professor’s works.
The three-day event is traditionally held on the weekend that falls closest to September the 22nd, the joint birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. This year’s moot, which also commemorated the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, featured a wide range of activities including discussions of the fantasy world, a themed quiz and an exhibition of fan art.The weekend is more than a purely academic event.
Helen Armstrong, Chairman of the Tolkien Association, said: “Oxonmoot has become a time of fellowship, with people often coming from overseas to meet people they rarely see, or brand new people who share their interests”.
Alongside the talks and exhibitions there was time for socialising in Oxford’s pubs and even a tongue in cheek theatrical homage to the mythical epic The Silmarillion which featured “a cast of thousands all played by four guys and two wigs, and even a penguin”.
A lot has changed since the event’s origins back in 1974. Oxonmoot started as a small meeting of friends in the Welsh Pony on George Street, a building currently occupied by Eurobar. The meeting was immediately successful, and quickly blossomed into an annual event attended by hundreds of people.
The city of Oxford is a fitting location for the celebration and, along with the university itself, played an important role in the development of Tolkien’s works. The academic spent almost his entire career at the university, writing fan favourites such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings whilst lecturing as Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College, where he worked until his retirement.
Armstrong argues that the backing he received from the Oxford academic community was crucial to the success of his books as “the fact that he had a great deal of support and encouragement from colleagues in Oxford, particularly CS Lewis, was very helpful to him.”
Tolkien elected to be buried in Oxford, and his grave in Wolvercote Cemetery is the scene of a pilgrimage at the end of Oxonmoot to pay respects to the author.
Joe Rolleston, a second year historian, was outraged at perceived favouritism towards the author, questioning “why don’t we have a Stephanie Meyer festival as well?”