Lost Tolkien poems found in Abingdon

Principal Stephen Oliver

Two lost poems by Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien have been discovered at an Abingdon school.

They were unearthed at Our Lady’s Abingdon, a private catholic school in Radley Road, 80 years after they were published in its magazine titled ‘The Annual’.

Principal Stephen Oliver discovered the poems in the 1936 edition after a tip-off by American Tolkien scholar, Wayne G. Hammond.

Mr Oliver said: “At first we couldn’t find the 1936 edition, then, while preparing for an event for former pupils of the school, we uncovered our own coup and I saw the two poems.

“My excitement when I saw them was overwhelming. I am a great Tolkien fan and was thrilled to discover the connection with the school.”

Mr Hammond contacted Mr Oliver after he found a note from Tolkien saying the Oxford professor had published two poems in a magazine he called ‘The Abingdon Chronicle’.

The search uncovered ‘The Shadow Man’ – an early version of a published poem in Tolkien’s 1962 collection, Adventures of Tom Bombadil – and ‘Noel’, a Christmas poem, celebrating the birth of Jesus.

It is believed Tolkien visited the school while living in Oxford and working as an Anglo-Saxon professor at Oxford University in 1925.

The poems are some of Tolkien’s earlier work, published a year before The Hobbit and 18 years before The Lord of the Rings.

Mr Oliver added: “We intend to make the poems the centre piece of an exhibition on the rich history of our school.

“As a writer myself, I feel privileged to have been part of the discovery of these lost works.”

A map of Tolkien’s fantasy world Middle Earth went on display in Oxford’s Blackwells in Broad Street last November after being found in a loose copy of The Lord of the Rings last year.

The map sold for £60,000.