In John Garth's Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth we can read that Tolkien, at Phoenix Farm (on 24 September 1914), wrote with startling éclat:
Éarendel sprang up from the Ocean's cup
In the gloom of the mid-world's rim;
From the door of Night as a ray of light
Leapt over the twilight brim,
And launching his bark like a silver spark
From the golden-fading sand
Down the sunlit breath of Day's fiery Death
He sped from Westerland
In 1914 Tolkien stayed at his Aunt's farm, called Phoenix Farm, in Gedling. While the farm has now been demolished, it is said that it was there that Tolkien wrote this poem that in the end led to the Lord Of The Ring
The 57-year-old father-of-three, who has lived in Gedling and Mapperley, now works as a teacher in Birmingham - considered tolkien's hometown since the author's family moved there when he was three. Two years ago, Andrew discovered that Tolkien had written The Voyage Of Earendel The Evening Star while staying with his aunt, Jane Neave, at Phoenix Farm in 1914.
He said: "I was surprised to find he wrote his first poem in Gedling. It is just 200 yards down the road from where I used to live. It is an extremely significant poem. This one led to the rest of his writing."
Phoenix Farm was demolished and turned into a Coal Board estate in 1953, but John and his research team managed to get hold of several pictures of the site - and they found out plenty about Jane Neave, who ran the farm and was said to be highly influential on her nephew.
Andrew said: "Jane Neave is really the key, a lot of people think she was the model for the wizard Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings. I researched her more than anyone has done and she was an extraordinary person."
This sounds like a very interesting book. Hope to have a review of this book ready real soon!
A small side note, I remember an interview I did with Dr. Alison Milbank author of Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians who lived in the tiny cathedral town of Southwell in Sherwood Forest. He is a curate in the village of Lambley, which adjoins Phoenix Farm, where Tolkien stayed with his aunt when she was a tenant farmer in Nottinghamshire. It is a pretty hobbitish area, with a very tucked-away feel to it. It seems more authors from this area are into writing Tolkien books!
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