What’s the connection between J R R Tolkien and Charles Dickens? We know that they were two of the most incredible and well respected authors of their time and their popularity has endured over the years, but what other connection could there possibly be?
J R R Tolkien (Left) and Charles Dickens (Right)
I think the majority of school children know that Tolkien is famous for Lord of the Rings and Charles Dickens (most certainly if you’re from England) is either loved or hated by students who often have to study one or other of his novels at school. I’m the former – loved his work from the age of 9 or 10 when I read A Christmas Carol. My love affair with his writing then went on to David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations. In fact, I now have a selection of the old black and white movie versions on DVD!
There the connection seems to end. Tolkien was born in South Africa in the late 19th century, came over to England with his family during his early childhood and for much of his life lived in the West Midlands, close to England’s border with Wales, and died in 1973 in the southern coastal town of Bournemouth, where he’d moved to after he retired. In fact, if you look at a map of the areas around Shropshire and Worcestershire close to the boundary with Wales you’ll find many place names that sound so obviously “Hobbit like”. Dickens, on the other hand, was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire – a port on the south coast of England, in 1812 and died in Gads Hill, Kent in 1870; some 20 years before Tolkien’s birth.
However, I’ve recently discovered that two descendants of Tolkien and Dickens have joined forces to produce two new children’s fantasy stories.
Michael Tolkien, a poet, and the eldest of Tolkien’s grandsons, is writing the two new stories and Gerald Dickens, the great-great-grandson of Charles will be reading and recording the stories for the “talking book” versions.
As a bit of a background as to what delights are in store, the first story, Wish, tells the tale of two children who try to save an alpine valley using an evil enchanter’s “wishing chain of stones” and, of course, end up in all sorts of trouble and strife! The second book will be entitled “Rainbow”.
Both of the books are due to be published shortly so look out for them on Amazon!! Could be a Christmas present for the young … or, if you’re like me, middle aged but still love a good fairy story, the not so young!! Either way, let’s hope the stories live up to Michael Tolkien’s grandfather’s well respected name!!!.