The Lord of the Rings

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Name: The Lord of the Rings trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King
Abbreviation(s): LotR, LOTR; FOTR, TTT, ROTK
Creator: John Ronald Reuel (J. R. R.) Tolkien (1892-1973)
Date(s): books: 1954-1955, films: 1978 (Bakshi); 1980 (Rankin-Bass); 2001-2003 (Jackson)
Medium: book, film
Country of Origin: England, UK, Middle-earth, New Zealand

Subpages for The Lord of the Rings:
The_Lord_of_the_Rings has no subpages to list.
External Links: Encyclopedia of Arda, Tolkien Gateway, Council of Elrond,, The One (TORn)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

In 1954-55 J.R.R. Tolkien published his epic fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings, divided into three books: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.[1]

Tolkien's View on Fandom

He wrote of a "deplorable cultus" of fandom, and stated that "Many young Americans are involved in the stories in a way that I'm not. [2] He was referring to the "Go Go Gandalf" and "Frodo Lives" buttons and stickers that had cropped up on many American college campuses.

In the foreword to The Road Goes Ever On: A Song-Cycle, a collaboration with Tolkien to set his best poems to music, composer Donald Swann wrote:

Along with many others I often found myself desiring to vanish into Middle Earth, to escape utterly into fantasy! On the other hand this was a temptation making one unfit to live in this earth at all; on the other, the phrase Middle-Earth is but a medieval way of describing our own world poised between Heaven & Hell. Is Tolkien’s world of fantasy an escape at all, or do we therein meet ourselves, with all our problems? His books, as those of C.S. Lewis, include well-nigh perfect creatures, Elves, eldila, great lords & magicians. These heroes, I decided, were but paradigms of humans with a sense of destiny & purpose; & Frodo, the central hero, carries mortality in the shape of a lasting wound. The heroes of Greek legend were often real people of a past time, only with wings drawn in. To sum up this paragraph, I used to feel that the Tolkien dimension was almost a danger. I then went against this, & decided I would enter it at any time I chose, but with this golden rule (with this phial glowing on my desk?) that I must be able to emerge, to shut the book, & get up from the chair. If I can’t, I will earn the disapproval of the author. He was an upright man in the real world, & had no intention of casting a spell on anyone. I told him once of a young man who thought he was Frodo. 'I've ruined their lives.' he said disconsolately.[3]

Book Fandom

Letters to and from Tolkien after publication show that many readers became fans very quickly, asking questions about Middle-earth, the characters, and so on.[4]. In the 1960s, many people involved in the hippie counter-culture found resonance in LOTR, and it became not just a best-seller, but a part of the generational identity.[5] Groups of Tolkien admirers formed, including the Mythopeic society, The Tolkien Society, and shorter-lived gatherings, such as the Tolkien Fellowship at Michigan State University.[6]

Many words invented or adapted by Tolkien have become part of fannish vocabulary, including moot, mathom, pipeweed and smial. Fans used LOTR and Tolkien's later publications including the Silmarillion to teach themselves various of Tolkien's Elvish and Dwarvish languages and scripts. [7] [8]

The novel Bored of the Rings, a parody by the co-founders of National Lampoon, was published in 1969, suggesting that anti-fans were also quick to seize on the book.

Music Fandom

Tolkien's writings inspired hundreds, perhaps thousands of musical compositions, from classical[9] to death metal, perhaps most famously by Led Zeppelin.[10] [11] Rush's Geddy Lee and Motorhead's Lenny Kilmister both appeared in the Ringers documentary, talking about Tolkien's influence on them. In 2006, the Lord of the Rings Musical played in Toronto, moving to London for 2007-2008, but was not considered a success. [12]

Aca-fen and Academic Analysis of LOTR

  • University professors and other academics became enthusiastic about Tolkien and his works and began writing literary papers on them. Some were granted access to Tolkien's unpublished papers, with a resulting conflict between them and those who were not.[13].
  • other stuff here?
  • lit crit and college classes?
  • Semi-pro fans like Michael Martinez
  • Fellow professional authors:
The impulse is being called reactionary now, but lovers of Middle-earth want to go there. I would myself, like a shot. For in the end it is Middle-earth and its dwellers that we love, not Tolkien's considerable gifts in showing it to us. I said once that the world he charts was there long before him, and I still believe it. He is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never invented them either: he found them a place to live, a green alternative to each day's madness here in a poisoned world. We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers -- thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams."[14]

The Line Between Tolkien Fandom and "Serious" Scholarly Studies

Partly because Tolkien himself was a university professor, some of the most enthusiastic fans are those writing the serious scholarly works about him. Tom Shippey, who for several years occupied Tolkien's chair at the University of Leeds and is on the editorial board of Tolkien Studies, is among Tolkien's most enthusiastic fans and himself a professional fantasy author.

Some feel it lies with those who embrace the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy but have little awareness of Tolkien's lesser and posthumously published works of both fiction and non-fiction.

Online Book Fandom

  • online fandom started early, by 1993: and rec.arts.books.tolkien
  • 1992 bibliography

Book Web Sites

Book Archives

(see also Category:Lord of the Rings Archives)

Film Fandoms

  • The zine Triode #18 (May 1960) contains a letter from J. R. R. Tolkien in response to Arthur Weir's essay "No Monroe in Lothlorien". Weir speculates on things like locations and casting for a film version (the "Monroe" refers to Marilyn, as Weir is vehemently against any "super-mammary Americans" in any of the female roles; he wanted Greta Garbo for Galadriel). Tolkien responds that based on his experience with scripts and 'story-line' he feels that "only an overwhelming financial reward could possibly compensate an author for the horrors of the conversion of such a tale into film." (Hammond and Scull, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide - Chronology, p. 557).

Pre-2000 films

Rankin-Bass: Hobbit and Return of the King: Animated television movies

Ralph Bakshi: The Lord of the Rings Animated film, only the first part was produced

The Lord of the Rings films (2001-2003)

A huge amount of fandom activity is based on these films

The main web site: The One (TORn)

Before and during filming

Fan response to films

  • line parties for FOTR, inspired by Star Wars [15]
  • FOTR comes out, the hoyay is fabulous, and Arwen rides with Frodo, departing from the book
  • Lord of the Rings FPF fanfiction ramps up
  • New Zealand fandom site tours start?
  • Extended DVDs with Fellowship of the Cast and commentaries
  • Actor slash: RPS! much shipping! Lotrips
  • The Two Towers, definitely line parties
  • TORn party #1
  • Tinhats
  • Collectormanias and Comic Cons, Ring*Con and cons all over the world
  • Fellowslash
  • The Return of the King film comes out, yet more line parties, premieres, most of New Zealand
  • TORn party #2
  • Victoria Bitter and the Bit of Earth scandal
  • a zillion Oscars (Seventeen in all, most winners in safe categories like makeup, visual effects, costuming and music. Nominated for thirteen others. The Return of the King won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay in addition to the former; it was understood that these applied to the trilogy as a whole.[16])
  • Fan tourism
The LOTR movies were filmed in New Zealand with special effects by Weta Workshop. After The Hobbit movies, the Hobbit Smials from the Shire were rebuilt, and this set was also opened up for tourism. Many fans go on pilgrimages to see the set, the Weta Workshop museum (?) as well as visiting sites from the film.

Continuing Fandom Activity

Pairings and Relationships

See: Category:Tolkien Relationships.

Fanwork Tropes

Challenges and Exchanges

Some Fanworks

The Lord of the Rings has inspired a very large and creative fandom. LOTR creativity long predates the Internet, but many thousands of new fanworks, based on either the book or the films, can be found online.


Fanart includes:


See The Lord of the Rings Fanfiction for more discussion.

The two broadest categories of fanfiction are FPF (fictional people fiction), about characters from the books and movies, and RPF (real people fiction), also known as LOTR RPS or Lotrips, stories written about the actors. Although some archives, communities, and challenges include both and some fans read and write both, many fans consider them to be separate fandoms.

The Fellowship of the King: The War of the Rings is a a fanfic series by Demetrious Polychron. The author is currently attempting to sue both Amazon and the Tolkien Estate for copyright infringement, claiming that The Rings of Power plagiarises aspects of his fic which was left at JRR's grandson's house in 2019.

Fanfiction Communities

These are some communities that encompass both RPF and FPF. See those pages for more community listings.

Fanfiction Archives

See Category:Lord of the Ring Archives for more.


While the Lord of the Rings movie fandom is primarily an online fandom, it has seen a fair share of print fanzines along with a robust amount of Doujinshi. You can find listings under List of Lord of the Rings Fanzines as well as by clicking on the Category:Lord of the Rings Zines category and the LOTR Doujinshi Category.


Following the Peter Jackson films, making fanvids was a popular fan activity. Examples:

Video Awards

Mailing Lists

See List of Lord of the Rings Mailing Lists.




Meta/Further Reading

See Also



  1. ^ Wikipedia:The Lord of The Rings
  2. ^ Quoted in Time Magazine, 2002-12-02
  3. ^ Donald Swann, foreword to The Road Goes Ever On: A Song-Cycle, Ballantine, 1975.
  4. ^ Letters of JRR Tolkien
  5. ^ Wikipedia:Tolkien fandom#1960s USA
  6. ^ Personal communication, 2008-10-12
  7. ^ Elvish Linguistic Fellowship
  8. ^ Ardalambion (Tolkien's invented languages), The Tolkien Language List
  9. ^ For example, see The Tolkien Ensemble and Johan de Meij's Symphony No. 1 "Lord of the Rings"
  10. ^
  11. ^ Works Inspired by JRR Tolkien - Music
  12. ^ Wikipedia:The Lord of the Rings (musical)
  13. ^ Wikipedia:Elfconners
  14. ^ Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, foreword to The Tolkien Reader (Ballantine, 1966).
  15. ^ a b The Fellowship of the Ring by Erik Davis, Wired, October 2001.
  16. ^ List of accolades received by The Lord of the Rings film series on Wikipedia.
  17. ^ Announcement that RPF news will be included, March 27, 2008. (Accessed October 24, 2008.)