Mark Atherton, Senior Lecturer in English, Regent's Park College, Oxford, gives the fourth talk in the Tolkien: The Maker of Middle Earth lecture series. This lecture focuses on Tolkien and old english.
Old English (Anglo-Saxon) is the early form of English which King Alfred spoke and in which Beowulf is written: as Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Tolkien taught this language, and as a writer he used its literature to inspire his fiction, but privately he saw himself as heir to the Old English of Mercia (the modern-day Midlands where he grew up), and he made this the language of the Riders of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings.
This series, convened by Dr Stuart Lee, presents five Oxford academics who examine the medieval languages that J.R.R. Tolkien studied and taught. Each lecture will present a short introduction to a language and its literature. The lectures will show how Tolkien's linguistic and philological scholarship inspired him to create names for characters and places in his literary works, and to invent the languages of Middle-earth.