Day one

I landed in Heathrow at 1:30 PM local time on Thursday May 31st after a fast but uneventful 10 hour flight - fast in that we had a tail wind and so were approximately 40 minutes early. I managed perhaps 3 hours of sleep for the overnight flight, but excitement kept me going for the full afternoon and evening reasonably well.

The airport necessities thankfully went extremely smoothly - I was able to get off the plane, through immigration and customs and to the Central Bus Station by 2 PM and thus catch the 2:20 express bus to Oxford. My plans for lodging were to share an AirBnB house in Headington with friends from the US and UK, so I let them know I was on the bus and coming. Lynn Maudlin was coordinating much of the logistics, and let me know Bruce Meyer’s flight had been delayed and to see if we could find each other. Sadly, I saw no sign of him and didn’t get a response to my text message, so I settled in for a quiet 90 minute bus ride.

To my surprise Bruce got on at the Terminal 5 stop! We hadn’t seen each other since The last Mythopoeic Conference in Berkeley five or six years previously, so we had a wonderful chat for the ride into Headington, discussing recent acquisitions for our collections and what we hoped to do and see this weekend.

Bruce and I arrived in Headington around 3:45 and made our way on foot from the bus stop to our temporary residence, a local landmark called The Shark House. It is so called because there is a 10-12 foot long shark sculpture sticking out of the roof and visible from quite some distance - making it quite easy to find! I will add a picture soon as I forgot to take one upon arrival.

We were greeted by Lynn at the door, and came in to say our hello’s to many of our fellow travelers - Aelfwine (Carl Hostetter), Jason Fisher, Pat and Trevor Reynolds, and David Bratman. This was my first time meeting Pat and Trevor, which was quite a pleasure! I have known of them through the Tolkien Society for many years, but this was our first opportunity to chat. Everyone else I was friends with already through the Mythopoetic Society and prior MythCon meet ups.

After an hour and a half of wonderful and wide ranging discussions (I distinctly recall Jason’s pleasure at being able to have a good discussion of the merits of various citation methodologies with this crowd), and a quick shower and change into more appropriate attire, five of us set off in the rain for the invite-only reception and opening ceremony at the Weston Library at 6 PM.

Beren (Pieter Collier) was waiting for me at the entrance with my badge already in hand, as he and I had agreed - he was responsible for my invitation to the reception, for which I am extremely grateful! As the others in our group found their badges as well, Pieter and I went inside and immediately found Marcel Aubron-Bülles, another mutual friend whom I have known for years online but never met until now!

The reception was open for mixing and chatting from 6 until 6:30 before the opening speeches, and there were approximately 300 people attending so there was absolutely no way to even figure out who all was attending, let alone have any significant conversations, but it was quite fun and I had the chance to say hi to many wonderful people including a five minute chat with Priscilla Tolkien, and briefer pleasantries with Alan Lee, Brian Sibley and David Weeks, David Brawn from HarperCollins, Ian Collier, Alan and Louise Reynolds, Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, Cathleen Blackburn from the Estate, Tim Tolkien and a few other family members from Hilary’s side, and many others. Also seen from a distance were Baille, Royd and Michael Tolkien, Verlyn Flieger, Tom Shippey and a few more people I hoped to greet but never managed to.

At 6:30 or so, Richard Ovenden, Librarian at the Bodleian gave a speech to kick things off, thanking everyone involved from all over the world in the multi-year effort to bring this exhibition together, before handing the podium over to Michael Tolkien for the official opening statement. Both were great speakers. With the official opening done, we were allowed to view the exhibition and take advantage of the museum shop for the remainder of the evening.


It was mostly quite crowded in the exhibition as many people were only in the area for the evening, and since I am spending Friday at the exhibition as well, I don’t have detailed notes to share except that it was everything I hoped for, and the amount of material on display is incredible!

After the viewing I visited the shop a few times between various conversations, and was able to meet the wonderful sales staff (hi Lucy!) whom I have been corresponding with since last year in preparation for this visit. A few small purchases later (I will be back for more) and after delivering to Ian the books he had ordered from me (and hand carried from the USA) those of us not invited to the private dinner left to find some food in the torrential downpour.


Nearby we found a pub and were able to get food orders in just before the kitchen closed at 9 PM. It was myself, Pieter, Marcel, Ian, and David Bratman, joined by Daniel Helen, Anna Darnena, and Niamh Riordan from the Tolkien Society staff. After food and good conversation, and waiting for breaks in the rain, we disbursed to get to our various places to sleep.