It has recently been reported that a Roman ring, suggested by some to have inspired Tolkien when he was writing The Hobbit, has been put on display at The Vyne, a Tudor house in Hampshire, in association with the Tolkien Society.
I have some reservations about this story, both from the perspective of a writer and as the holder of a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology.
The media reporting this story, as well as the people at the Vyne and in the Tolkien Society, display a lack of understanding of how inspiration works for a writer. In fairness, I can’t speak for other writers, but I find inspiration is never about one thing. Inspiration comes from a thousand sources, and the way I link my experiences to one another.
Last week Horrible Histories author Terry Deary revealed that he’s not a fan of libraries. He called them irrelevant and revealed that, had the readers borrowing his books in 2011/12 instead bought them, he’d have earned £180,000 compared to the £6,600 he actually earned from the borrows premium. He accuses them of reducing book sales from shops and being unnecessary because of public schools.
This is not an opinion I share. Or, indeed, one shared by children’s laureate Julia Donaldson, fantasy author Neil Gaiman, and, well, quitea lotof others. Deary even went on to defend his comments, claiming that they are only used by the middle classes and that he was talking about access to literature. He also claimed that “no-one is even reading what I’m saying” and accused commentators of spiteful remarks rather than reasoned debate. I saw plenty of reasoned debate in the links provided above and elsewhere, but maybe Mr Deary missed those.