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Speakers and experts on J.R.R. Tolkien
This page is meant as a resource of scholars specializing in Tolkien. If you want to be included on this page or have questions about their works please email

Colin Duriez

Colin Duriez (Conference Director) lives in the Lake District in north-west England and writes books, edits and lectures. He spent part of his childhood in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, where he was introduced to stories from The Mabinogion at school. He has appeared as a commentator on extended version DVDs of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, the “Royal” four-DVD-set of Walden/Disney’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, on PBS and BBC television (including The Worlds of Fantasy) and the Sony DVD Ringers, about Tolkien fandom and the impact of J.R.R. Tolkien on popular culture.

His books include The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter [SPCK/Chalice Press]), The C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia (Crossway/SPCK), J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship (Paulist Press/The History Press), Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings (Paulist Press/The History Press), A Field Guide to Narnia (InterVarsity/The History Press), The C. S. Lewis Chronicles (Bluebridge/DLT), and The Unauthorized Harry Potter Companion (The History Press: called A Field Guide to Harry Potter in the USA [InterVarsity]). He is currently writing a book on the theme of devilry in C. S. Lewis and some of the Inklings for InterVarsity, USA. He has also contributed to The Tolkien Encyclopedia and a number of other tomes. Colin has spoken at a variety of conferences on J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and the Inklings in the USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, Poland, Finland, and the UK.

Dimitra Fimi

Dimitra Fimi is a Lecturer in English at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC). She has also lectured for Cardiff University and the Open University. She has published a series of articles on Tolkien’s Celtic sources and her recently published book –Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) – has been greeted as an important new contribution to J.R.R. Tolkien studies and was recently nominated for the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies. Her book addresses key features of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creativity, including the role of linguistic invention in his Legendarium. She devotes an important part of it to the importance of the Welsh language in the development of Tolkien’s “linguistic aesthetic”.

Dr Fimi has been interviewed about Tolkien on US television and UK radio and has presented papers in numerous major Tolkien conferences (Tolkien 2005, Birmingham, Tolkien at Kalamazoo, and others). Dimitra is a Welsh speaker/learner. She has given public lectures in Wales and has been interviewed repeatedly by the Welsh media on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Welsh connections and his use of the Welsh language. From October 2010 she will be teaching an online course on Tolkien (open to students and fans all over the world) at UWIC. Her website is accessible at:

Verlyn Flieger

Verlyn Flieger is a professor in the Department of English at Maryland University, USA, where she teaches courses in J.R.R. Tolkien, medieval literature and comparative mythology. She has lectured widely on Tolkien and his work, and published three books on J.R.R. Tolkien – Splintered Light, A Question of Time, and Interrupted Music. She is the editor of the critical edition of Tolkien’s Smith of Wootton Major. With Carl Hostetter she is co-editor of the essay collection Tolkien’s Legendarium, and with Douglas A. Anderson she is co-editor of Tolkien on Fairy-stories, the critical edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Fairy-story” essay. She is co-editor of the yearly journal, Tolkien Studies.

Verlyn Flieger authored a fantasy novel, Pig Tale, an Arthurian novella, “Avilion,” published in the anthology, The Doom of Camelot, and a Tolkienian short story, “Green Hill Country,” published in Douglas A. Anderson’s anthology, Seekers of Dreams.

John Garth


Professor William Gray teaches in the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, where he is also Director of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy (see He studied literature, philosophy and theology at the universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and Princeton, and has published in all of these areas, with books on C.S. Lewis and Robert Louis Stevenson. His third year course 'Other Worlds: Fantasy Literature for Children of All Ages' explores the origins of fantasy literature especially in German Romanticism, and its development into later examples of fantasy writing by George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, as well by contemporary writers such as J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman. He has recently published two books: an essay collection entitled Death and Fantasy (Cambridge Scholars) and Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffmann (Palgrave Macmillan), of which the paperback version has just appeared and will be available at the conference bookshop.

John Garth

Alex Lewis (Conference Director) was captivated by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien from childhood onwards. In fact, he was born and raised in Oxford, England, and spent his childhood living a stone’s throw from where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were written in North Oxford. He joined the Tolkien Society in 1976, and was chairman from 1988–92. He founded a writers’ special-interest publication called Nigglings, which contained fiction set within Middle-earth for members of the Society. He has degrees in the sciences and works as a consultant, mostly overseas. He has contributed papers to numerous Tolkien seminars and conferences in many countries, including the Tolkien Centenary Conference in Oxford in 1992. Alex has co-authored three scholarly works on Tolkien, Uncharted Realms of Tolkien (2002), Forsaken Realm of Tolkien (2005), and, most recently, The Epic Realm of Tolkien, Part One – Beren and Lúthien (2009). He is a writer of fiction, novels and composer of songs.

John Garth

Colin Manlove used to teach at Edinburgh University. He has written widely on fantasy for forty years, his latest books being a revised edition of his C.S. Lewis (2010) and, due out later this year, The Order of Harry Potter.

Dr Manlove’s books include Modern Fantasy: Five Studies (1975); Literature and Reality 1600-1800 (1978); The Gap in Shakespeare: The Motif of Division from Richard II to The Tempest (1981); The Impulse of Fantasy Literature (1982); Science Fiction: Ten Explorations (1986); C.S. Lewis: His Literary Achievement (1987); Critical Thinking: A Guide to Interpreting Literary Texts (1989); Christian Fantasy: From 1200 to the Present (1992); The Chronicles of Narnia: The Patterning of a Fantastic World (1993); Scottish Fantasy Literature: A Critical Survey (1994); The Fantasy Literature of England (1999); and From Alice to Harry Potter: Children's Fantasy in England (2003). His ground-breaking Modern Fantasy (Cambridge University Press, 1975) studied Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mervyn Peake, George MacDonald, and Charles Kingsley.

Corey Olsen

Corey Olsen is a professor in the Department of English at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, USA, where he teaches courses in J.R.R. Tolkien and medieval literature, specializing in Chaucer and Sir Thomas Malory. In the summer of 2009, he launched his website and podcast “The Tolkien Professor”, on which he is posting a detailed lecture series on Tolkien’s works, as well as responses to readers’ questions and discussions with other Tolkien readers. Professor Olsen’s efforts to bring a scholarly discussion of Tolkien’s works directly to a general audience has been an international success. In only the first six months of the project, the “Tolkien Professor” website has received 1.1 million visits, and listeners have downloaded more than 75,000 lectures.

Corey Olsen has published in Tolkien Studies and has given conference presentations at Kalamazoo and the University of Vermont. In October, he was invited by Columbia Artists to give a lecture on “The Music of the Hobbit” in conjunction with the live performance of Howard Shore’s Fellowship of the Ring score at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. He also appeared this fall on the History Channel in the “Tolkien’s Monsters” episode of the Clash of the Gods series. Professor Olsen is currently working on finishing his lecture series on The Hobbit and on launching an online Tolkien book club in conjunction with

Thomas Alan Shippey

Thomas Shippey is a scholar of medieval literature, including that of Anglo-Saxon England, and of modern fantasy and science fiction, in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, about whom he has written several ground-breaking studies. T. A. Shippey retired from the Walter J. Ong Chair of Humanities at Saint Louis University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2008. His work and life cross paths in many ways with that of Tolkien; like Tolkien, he attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham in England and taught Old English at Oxford University. He inherited J.R.R. Tolkien’s former chair and syllabus at the University of Leeds.

In addition to writing books of his own, he has edited a number of collections, such as The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories and, as of 2003, is the editor of the journal Studies in Medievalism. He serves on the editorial board of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review.

Under the pseudonym of John Holm, he collaborated closely with science-fiction author Harry Harrison on two successful “alternate universe” trilogies, the “West of Eden” and the “Hammer and the Cross” sequences.

In recent years, he says, his “main interest has been the slowly-developing scholarly field of ‘medievalism’, that is to say the ways in which the Middle Ages have been re-imagined and represented in the modern world, and I have taken particular interest in the work and influence of Tolkien’s great predecessor, Jacob Grimm”.

If you would like to appear on this site please email with some samples of your work and a brief bio to