Just published (August 2021), is the untold story of Edith Tolkien née Bratt, the wife and muse of J R R Tolkien. Like so many women who devoted themselves to famous men, she has remained in the shadow of her husband. The Gallant Edith Bratt - J R R Tolkien's Inspiration describes in fine detail her life from illegitimate birth to that magic moment in a glade in Yorkshire that inspired The Tale of Tinúviel that later evolved into the narrative of Beren and Lúthien in The Silmarillion. It has been published by Walking Tree Publishers and is available from all good booksellers; also on line here:
Who was Edith Bratt? Millions saw Hollywood's fantasy version of J.R.R. Tolkien's one and only love, Edith Bratt, in the 2019 movie, Tolkien. Fact, though, is stranger than fiction, and more interesting. Edith's story reveals a gallant heroine suffering under "The Shadow of the Past." Edith was Ronald's "lover," and much like her mother, Edith risked all for the man she loved. New research finds a financially independent and strong woman who was not only John Ronald's equal, but his muse, his anchor of stability in the present, and his hope for the future.
Admirers, enthusiasts, and students of Tolkien will find much new material to enrich their understanding and appreciation of Tolkien. Placing the development of John Ronald Tolkien's Elvish languages, mythology, and art during the crucial years of 1916-18 in a new biographical context that includes the importance and significance of Edith Bratt culminates in the pivotal story of Lúthien and Beren with new unsuspected sources and the complementary artwork of The Fair Towns of Holy Tol Eressëa. A fresh awareness of the compelling and pervasive influence and effect of Tolkien's biography on his oeuvre suggests new views and possibilities for further investigations.
Janet Brennan Croft
Nancy Bunting and Seamus Hamill-Keays' biography of Edith Bratt Tolkien is by turns diligently documented and daringly speculative. Many hitherto untapped records and sources are deployed in support of this new assessment of Edith's early life and character. In their concluding chapter, Bunting and Hamill-Keays mount a well-reasoned defense for their challenge to, in Dimitra Fimi's phrase, Tolkien's "biographical legend."
Bradford Lee Eden, Ph.D.
An examination and documentation of Edith Bratt's influence and inspirational presence in the life of J.R.R. Tolkien is long overdue and greatly desired. This biography and study fills that large gap in Tolkien studies and research. The detailed chronological, historical, and creative emphasis on Edith Bratt's bio-graphical information in relation to already-known facts related to Tolkien's own biography provides a fuller picture of her contributions to the development and creation of Tolkien's legendarium.
For far too long the examination and evaluation of the life of J.R.R. Tolkien has been limited to a narrow range of his academic work and a few of his male colleagues and friends. In concentrating on this narrow range, the picture of the creator of Middle-earth has so far lacked a more rounded and useful dimension and has therefore been limited in value.
Here in this new book Bunting and Hamill-Keays have brought to the fore the person who would have been closest to Tolkien - his wife Edith. Far from being a bland and unimportant figure in his life as some have suggested, in The Gallant Edith Bratt we discover an interesting person in her own right with a key role in Tolkien's creative life. The love affair between the young Tolkien and the love of his life Edith was as passionate and remarkable as some of the love stories Tolkien told about his own created characters such as Aragorn and Arwen, and Beren and Lúthien.
The authors have used much recent material to build a picture of Edith's background, who her parents were, and just how financially independent she was prior to marrying Tolkien. They have persuasively shown how much at the core of his creativity Edith belonged - along with Tolkien's younger brother Hilary. Without her, we would simply not have had the stories as we know them.
We find out more about the things that drove J.R.R. Tolkien to create what he did, and discover in his wife not only a partner in matters physical, but also a wise and gifted counsellor to her husband as well as an important source of inspiration to him during his whole life.
The style of the book is very accessible and it is a pleasure to read and very informative.
A fascinating re-examination of the life of Edith Tolkien, née Bratt, that explores interesting themes and ideas in relation to the development of JRR Tolkien's early writing and the evolution of Middle-earth. An enjoyable new perspective that will hopefully stimulate much debate and further research in years to `come.
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