Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

How do you pick up the threads of an old life?

Come and take a deep dive, attempting to do just that, as we look into the life of the maker of Middle-earth! This series will take a leisurely (but thorough) adventure through the life of Tolkien over the course of a year through the lens of the newly revised and expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. As the module follows the narrative presented in Tolkien's own words in his letters, preceptor sessions will allow for discussions of Tolkien's thoughts and problems as he raises them --- as well as the chance to read and discuss selections of his creative works along the way. Weekly lectures will also supplement the course, taking a thorough and methodical look at the life of Tolkien in tandem with the letters and filling out a more complete picture of the man and his life through his work, his personal life, and his creative endeavors. Names, places, and stages of history can all too easily become abstractions on a page, but in this course we will see the way in which Tolkien's personal environment was intimately connected to his works, and shaped the life of the man behind the legendarium.

Whether you have read them before, dipped in from time to time, or have never read them at all, Tolkien's letters provide a font of fascinating material fleshing out the development of his literary work and the complexities of his personal life. The approximately 150 new letters in the new edition will also provide an enthralling and more incisive look into the man behind the myths that readers have never seen before. Join for the whole series, or just dip in for a deeper look into your favorite era of his life and work!

January: 1892 -1938: The War, The Early Silmarillion, and The Hobbit (Letters 1-33)
February: 1938 -1944: WWII and The Lord of the Rings (Letters 34-64)
March: 1944 - 1945: The End of the War and the End of the Tale (Letters 65-97)
April: 1945 - 1950: Creative Work and Publishing Problems (Letters 98-130)
May: 1950 - 1954: Milton Waldman and The Silmarillion (Letters 131-144)
June: 1954 - 1955: Publishing, Auden, and the Creative Process (Letters 145-163)
July: 1955 - 1956: Allegory and Interpretation (Letters 164-182)
August: 1956 - 1958: The Idea of Film Adaptation (Letters 183-210)
September: 1958 - 1961: Popularity and Fandom (Letters 211-234)
October: 1961 - 1964: Creativity and Family (Letters 234-257)
November: 1964 - 1967: Interviews and Popularity Problems (Letters 258-294)
December: 1967 - 1973: Poetry, Language, and Reminiscence (Letters 295-354)

Required Texts

The Revised and Expanded Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (coming November 2023)
Check out Current and Upcoming offerings from:


January 2024 Spotlight

If you're interested in this course...

If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].