Guided by curator John McQuillen, NYC-ARTS visits the exhibition “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth,” which looks at the work and life of the creator of some of the most imaginative stories of English literature. It is on view at The Morgan Library & Museum through May 12.

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GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO NYC ARTS.

IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THEY LIVED A HOBBIT, SO BEGINS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS STORIES OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.

WHILE THE HOBBIT BEGINS WITH THAT SIMPLE LINE, THE ORIGINS OF HOBBITS, ELVES, DWARFS AND THE LAND THEY INHABIT IS NEXT.

THE SCHOLAR OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND ITS HISTORY, CREATED THE REALM OF MIDDLE EARTH TO GIVE HIS OWN INVENTIVE LANGUAGES A HOME.

THIS WINTER, THE MORGAN LIBRARY AND MUSEUM EXAMINES TOLKIEN'S LIFE AND WORK.

VISITORS CAN WITNESS THE CREATION OF ONE OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS AND INFLUENTIAL TALES OF THE 20th CENTURY.

AND NOW, CURATOR JOHN McCLELLAN TAKES US FAR OVER THE MISTY MOUNTAINS COLD INTO THE WORLD OF MIDDLE EARTH.

WE'RE STANDING IN TOLKIEN, MAKER OF MIDDLE EARTH, AN EXHIBITION THAT CELEBRATES THE LIFE AND CREATIVE PROCESS OF ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS AUTHORS OF THE 20th CENTURY.

IN HIS DAY JOB TOLKIEN WAS A PROFESSOR OF MID EVIL ENGLISH AND LITERATURE.

IN HIS EVENING JOB HE WAS THE AUTHOR AND CREATOR OF MELBOURNE OF THE WORLD WE KNOW THROUGH THE THREE MAIN STORIES OF THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS AND THE PHILMARELLIEN.

HE WAS BORN IN WHAT WAS THE ORANGE FREE STATE AND IS NOW THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA.

ABOUT THE AGE OF 4, HIS MOTHER TOOK HIM AND HIS YOUNGER BROTHER BACK TO ENGLAND.

AT WHICH POINT HIS FATHER DIED WHILE HE WAS STILL IN SOUTH AFRICA.HE ALWAYS SAID THAT LANDING IN THE GREEN ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE WAS A REAL EYE OPENER.

AND THERE ARE ILLUSTRATIONS WE HAVE IN THE SHOW FROM HIS CHILDHOOD OF A TREE BY A STREAM.

THE RURAL ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE WAS THE DIRECT INSPIRATION FOR FRODO AND BILLBO'S HOME IN THE SHIRE.WHEN HE WAS 12 HIS MOTHER DIED FROM DIABETES.HE REALLY DESIRED THIS STABILITY OF A FAMILY UNIT.HE REALLY DEVELOPED A CLOSE BOND WITH HIS WIFE EDITH WHO WAS ALSO AN ORPHAN.HE WAS A VERY CLOSE PART OF HIS CHILDREN'S LIVES FOR OVER 20 YEARS.EVERY YEAR HE PRODUCED THESE ELABORATE LETTERS AND ILLUSTRATIONS TO HIS FOUR CHILDREN FROM FATHER CHRISTMAS.

HE WOULD INCLUDE TALES OF FATHER CHRISTMAS'S ADVENTURES AT THE NORTH POLE AND HIS HELPER ELVES.

YOU CAN SEE IN THE LETTERS, FATHER CHRISTMAS'S HANDSHAKES BECAUSE IT'S COLD AT THE NORTH POLE.TOLKIEN STARTED WRITING THE HOBBIT PROBABLY 1929.

IT WAS ORIGINALLY A STORY FOR HIS CHILDREN.ALL OF THE MANUSCRIPT AND ILLUSTRATIVE MATERIAL IS OF HIS OWN HAND.WE HAVE THE ORIGINAL FIVE WATERCOLORS HE PRODUCED.

FOR THE AMERICAN EDITION, ALTHOUGH THEY CAME OUT IN THE ENGLISH EDITION BEFORE THE AMERICAN YOU CAN SEE HIS REAL CREATION OF THE COMPLETE WORLD THAT BILBO LIVED IN.

THE LANDSCAPES, THE SETTING, HE'S STRIVING TO HELP THE IMAGINATION OF THE READER REALLY GRASP THE SETTING OF MIDDLE EARTH.

HE PRODUCED THE ORIGINAL DUST JACKET DESIGN FOR THE HOBBIT.

HE WAS SORT OF WORRIED ABOUT WHAT OTHER ARTISTS MIGHT DO.

ULTIMATELY COVER TO COVER, THE ENTIRE FIRST EDITION IS TOLKIEN'S CREATION.

HE BEGAN WRITING WHAT BECAME 'LORD OF THE RINGS' IMMEDIATELY AFTER 'THE HOBBIT' CAME OUT.

IT WAS ABOUT 19.

WHEN HE STARTED THINKING ABOUT WHAT IS GOING TO BE BILBO'S NEXT ADVENTURE.

THE WRITING OUTGREW JUST THE STORY OF BILBO.

THE FIRST THING TOLKIEN PRODUCED FOR THIS IS THE MAP OF MIDDLE EARTH HE SAID REPEATEDLY IN LETTERS HE BEGAN WITH A MAP AND MADE THE STORY FIT.

THE MAP IS QUITE INCREDIBLE BECAUSE IT IS THE MAP HE USED OVER THIS 12 YEAR PERIOD.

ALMOST EVERY DAY IT IS FOLDED, REFOLDED, TORN, TAPED BACK TOGETHER, CORRECTED.

IT IS REALLY ALMOST A LIVING DOCUMENT OF THE STORY.

IT GREW AS THE STORY GREW.

HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO CREATE A MYTHOLOGY FOR ENGLAND.

THERE WAS THIS SENSE OF -- ALMOST BIBLICAL EPIC IN TERMS OF CREATION, THAT GOES FROM A CREATION MYTH THROUGH TO BATTLE AND ROMANCES.

GREAT WARS THAT REALLY PHYSICALLY SHAPED THE LANDSCAPE OF MIDDLE EARTH THAT THEN IS THE LAND THAT THE HOBBIT AND THE LORD OF THE RINGS ARE SET IN.

TOLKIEN IS VERY UNUSUAL IN MODERN AUTHORS FOR THE WORLD BUILDING THAT HE DID.

THERE IS A HISTORY TO THE LANGUAGE.

HIS TIME LINE AND THE SORT OF PRODUCTION NOTES ARE AGAIN ANOTHER EFFORT TO MAINTAIN THE COMPLETE VERACITY OF THE WORLD.

A WORLD IS NOT A SUPERFICIAL THING.

IT'S A FULLY REALIZED ENTITY.

THAT WAS A DEPTH OF CREATION THAT I DON'T THINK ANY OTHER AUTHOR HAS EVER MATCHED.