Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The master of Middle Earth and his time in the West

J.R.R. Tolkien
While trawling through some of the past and historic University calendars of NUI Galway and its past title as University College Galway, one could not help but notice this rather striking and stand out name as an external examiner.

In the summer exams of 1949 here at (then) University College Galway, the students of First Arts, Commerce and Science had the rather daunting task of having none other than J.R.R. Tolkien as the examiner in their English literature exam.

Tolkien had, since the 1920s, established himself as a leading academic. Around this time, just a few years prior to the image featured below, in 1945, he moved to Merton College, Oxford becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, in which post he remained until his retirement in 1959.  In 1954, Tolkien received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland (of which U.C.G. was a constituent college). It was in the following decade, into the 1950s, that Tolkein completed his Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

If presenting your work to the master of fantasy and fiction writing wasn't enough, let's hope the students had brushed up on their Shakespeare, the novels of Walter Scott, "poetic justice and the hard facts of life" and a good grasp of the preternatural in Literature.

Of course this find is all the more timely as Tolkien's classic The Hobbit is hitting cinema screens around the world this weekend!

For more editions of the Historic Calendars of Queen's College Galway and University College Galway, you can view the digital editions here: