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re. Tolkien's knowledge of Scottish wars

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  • John D Rateliff
    ... The one piece of information that comes to mind comes in a letter to his grandson Michael dated 16 October 1963: As my knowledge of Scottish History is
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 5, 2008
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      > Lynn Forest-Hill <lynnevda@...>
      > The Question:
      > We have had a request for any information regarding Tolkien's
      > knowledge of, opinions about, or writings on, Scottish wars and
      > clan violence.
      > The enquiry is particularly focussed on Scottish wars and clan
      > violence in the Borders, but any insight into Tolkien knowledge of
      > these matters would be helpful.



      The one piece of information that comes to mind comes in a letter to
      his grandson Michael dated 16 October 1963: "As my knowledge of
      Scottish History is v. small I find it difficult to follow who
      murdered whom, or why � the general trend of Scots history." (Letters
      page 336). He was referring specifically to the Gowrie conspiracy of
      1600 (a particularly complicated event still much disputed, as
      related to him by a partisan of one faction). Given his typical
      modesty, it's probably safe to assume he knew the main outlines of
      Scotland's history that any well-educated person of the day would
      know* but had no special knowledge such as a university historian
      would know. My impression is that while he enjoyed visiting Scotland
      and liked the Scots he had no particular interest in Scottish
      mythology, much preferring the Welsh (and, to a lesser extent, the
      Irish). That said, Macpherson's example of creating Scotch myths from
      a few oral fragments (the Ossian cycle) is a pretty clear precursor
      to 'a mythology for England'.
      I'd be interested in seeing what your research on this topic
      turns up.
      Hope this helps.
      --JDR

      *Don't forget that he'd once been a fan of S. R. Crockett's The Black
      Douglas, a historical novel about 15th century Scots.


      On Jan 5, 2008, at 9:00 AM, ecrowews wrote:
      > A query from our friends in The Tolkien Society (UK). If you have
      > useful information please respond to the following--NOT to me. (And
      > copy to this list if you wish for the edification of your fellow
      > listmembers.)


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