Welcome to the website of freelance writer, editor and researcher John Garth, award-winning author of Tolkien and the Great War and public speaker. Here you will find:
2014: Tolkien and the Great War to be published in French by Christian Bourgois in a translation by Johan-Frederik Hel Guedj; in German by Klett-Cotta in a translation by Marcel Aubron–Bülles and Dr Birgit Herden, with an audiobook from Der Hörverlag; and (in June) in Spanish by Minotauro in a translation by Eduardo Segura.
2014: I talk on location about Tolkien’s war in a BBC TV documentary on writers on the Somme, directed by Sebastian Barfield and also featuring historian Peter Barton.
2–9 August 2014: I teach a week’s course on Tolkien and Oxford with Dr Maria Artamonova for the Oxford University Summer School for Adults, focusing on his backgrounds as a war writer and academic.
3 December 2013: Comments on Tolkien and the First World War, as his revolver goes on display at the Imperial War Museum, MailOnline.
25 November: Report on the JFK anniversary talk by biographers Randall Woods and Godfrey Hodgson at Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute.
22 November 2013: Tolkien Brasil gives me a column.
20 November 2013: My appreciation of artist and friend Pauline Baynes – guest column at JJ Books.
14 November 2013: Launch of Exeter College: The First 700 Years, including my contribution on ‘The Undergraduate Tolkien’.
13 November 2013: On The Oxfordians, a new art group, for Oxford Today.
8 November 2013: Talk to the Oxford Tolkien Society on how Tolkien’s experience in the First World War shaped Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.
3 November 2013: Long-form feature on the coincidental deaths of JFK, CS Lewis and Aldous Huxley 50 years ago at the Daily Beast. Previously presented as a talk to the Oxford CS Lewis Society and in short form in Oxford Today. I was later interviewed on the topic by Al Jazeera English.
24 October 2013: Review of Alison Brackenbury's poetry collection Then, Oxford Today.
Journalism includes interviews with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Carnegie-winning author Alan Garner (both pictured below by Joby Sessions) and recent features on the summer 2013 Bodleian exhibition, ash dieback, and the digital future of the Oxford English Dictionary.
I have also interviewed Newbery-winning novelist Susan Cooper, polemicist Naomi Wolf, Pulitzer winner Siddhartha Mukherjee, Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Cook, and Britain’s most decorated living soldier Sir Tommy Macpherson, among many others. I first trained as a reporter on local papers in London.
Book reviews have appeared in The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, The Evening Standard, The Times Literary Supplement and elsewhere, dealing with modern historical fiction, contemporary short stories, fantasy, medieval literature, literary reference, biography, and lexicography.
Editing experience spans new media, newspapers and books. I was an Evening Standard sub-editor for many years, and I have copy-edited Agatha Christie, Simon Tolkien, Greg Iles and Jack Higgins for HarperCollins.
Research for Tolkien and the Great War took me to Oxford’s Bodleian Library where I examined Tolkien’s personal papers; to the British Library; to the National Archives at Kew; and to the battlefields of the Somme. I researched and wrote the chronology for Agatha Christie’s The Grand Tour, about her round-the-world 1922 trip, filling gaps she left in her account. Other topics include the lives of many friends and connections of Tolkien, particularly R.Q. Gilson, an artist and junior officer killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. I have traced my family to the early 18th century, and have used genealogy extensively in other biographical research.
17 October 2013: Talk: Tolkien’s Dead Marshes, National Army Museum.
16 October 2013: joined Twitter as @JohnGarthWriter.
6 October 2013: ‘Battle of the Somme: the “animal horror” that inspired JRR Tolkien.’ In the Sunday Telegraph’s First World War supplement.
4 October 2013: I talk to the Foreign Office’s Foreign Policy Counsellor in Washington, Jennifer Cole OBE, about her time at Oxford.
27 September 2013: Online for the first time, my article Tolkien and the boy who didn’t believe in fairies, which uncovers the encounter that first taught him fairy-stories are not kids’ stuff. With previously unseen pictures. Now available in Spanish.
September 2013: My Evening Standard article ‘Tolkien fantasy was born in trenches of the Somme’ is now in Portuguese.
31 August 2013: I talk to Newbery medallist Susan Cooper on her new novel Ghost Hawk, at The Daily Beast.
29 July 2013: Talk on Tolkien, British Studies at Oxford summer school, St John’s College.
29 July 2013: Interviewed by Malcolm Boyden on BBC Radio Oxford on the 59th birthday of The Fellowship of the Ring.
3 July 2013: Launched Facebook page, John Garth, writer.
July 2013: Interview with outgoing Oxford English Dictionary editor John Simpson, in Blueprint. Read here.
July 2013: Review of The Broken Scythe: Death and Immortality in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien, in Tolkien Studies 10. Read here (Project Muse subscription only).
21 March 2013: Opening talk at the Oxford Tolkien Spring School, on Tolkien’s life.
March 2013: Visited the Oxford Literary Festival for Oxford Today, hearing Alister McGrath on C.S. Lewis and Lucy Hughes-Hallett on her Samuel Johnson Prize-winning biography of proto-fascist Gabriele D’Annunzio.
— Reviewed Mark Atherton’s There and Back Again, on Tolkien and The Hobbit.
5 February 2013: Talk on Tolkien, Oxford C.S. Lewis Society.
25 January 2013: Reviewed Prajwal Parajuly’s The Gurkha’s Daughter, The Guardian.
December 2012 and January 2013: Interviewed on BBC Radio Oxford’s James Cannon Show, BBC Online and ITV Meridian on Tolkien, marking the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Tolkien’s birthday.
October 2012: Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s only print interview from her historic 2012 visit to Britain — in Oxford Today, alongside my interviews with £75million university bursary donor Michael Moritz and biographer Michael Korda.
30 September 2012: Gave a talk on Tolkien via live video feed to the National World War I Museum, Kansas City, Missouri.
19 August 2012: At the Tolkien Society’s Return of the Ring conference I spoke about Tolkien’s close friend Rob Gilson and took part in a panel discussion about research.
3 August 2012: Spoke on the BBC Radio 4 documentary Tolkien in Love about J.R.R. Tolkien’s reunion with his childhood sweetheart Edith Bratt, their marriage, and their wartime separation.
16 June 2012: Hungarian Tolkien Society conference in Budapest: talk on how the First World War shaped the portrayal of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. Published in Hungarian in J.R.R. Tolkien: Fantázia és erköles, ed. Dr Pődör Dóra, Nagy Andrea and Füzessy Tamás.
15 June 2012: Q&A with Michael Martinez of the Middle-earth and JRR Tolkien News website.
28 August 2011: Interviewed live about Tolkien on Talking History with Patrick Geoghegan, Newstalk, Ireland.