People from around the globe, including a list of Hollywood stars, have joined with award-winning author Julia Golding to launch a crowdfunding campaign to try to save 20 Northmoor Road, the Oxford house in which famed Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, in advance of its being put on the market for sale.
The initiative, Project Northmoor, aims to purchase the house and set up a literary centre in honour of Tolkien, one of the most beloved literary writers of the 20th Century.
Tolkien was a devout Catholic whose faith influenced and penetrated his writings, and preserving his legacy and the importance of his works is a priority for Catholics.
Sir Ian McKellen, who earned an Oscar nomination for his role as wizard Gandalf in the 2001 film, The Fellowship of the Ring, is helping to gather a new ‘fellowship’ of funders to purchase the house, with a crowdfunding campaign opened at www.projectnorthmoor.org.
To kick off the project, McKellen and a host of celebrities and others associated with the Tolkien universe came together for a special video. Among them Emmy Awarding-winning actor Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy; music legend Annie Lennox, who wrote and performed the Oscar winning theme Into the West, from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; actor John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy; the Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Sir Derek Jacobi, who stars in Tolkien and narrates the Farmer Giles of Ham audiobook; and illustrator John Howe, whose work includes The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Other notables include Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth, the former Archbishop of Canterbury; Joseph Loconte, author of A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and the Great War; and Cliff Broadway, also known as Quickbeam, a writer, actor, Tolkien fan and staff member of TheOneRing.net.
Tolkien’s Oxford house is largely unchanged since it was built in 1924. It features six large bedrooms upstairs, one bedroom on the ground floor, and a spacious garden. The Tolkien family moved there in 1930 and stayed for 17 years, during which time Tolkien wrote both his fantasy masterpieces. It is also where he hosted fellow Catholic author C.S. Lewis. The historic home is located just a few miles from his home parish.
Project leader Julian Golding says this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and he aims to raise roughly US$6 million from Tolkien fans around the world to purchase the house and set up a Tolkien centre. The centre will be financially self-sustaining once established.
Golding admits it is a tough target: “To raise six million dollars in three months is a huge challenge,” Golding told The Catholic Universe. “However, we need only to look at Frodo and Sam’s journey from Rivendell to Mount Doom, which took that same amount of time – and we are inspired that we can do this too!”
Actor Sir Ian McKellen added: “We cannot achieve this without the support of the worldwide community of Tolkien fans, our fellowship of funders.”
As a charitable venture, the mission of Project Northmoor is to promote Tolkien’s work, allow fantasy writers and artists to come together to write, learn and create, and preserve the fascinating house for future generations to enjoy. The facility would also have an engaging online presence to bring into the house’s programme those who cannot travel to Oxford.
Fans may donate to Project Northmoor at: www.projectnorthmoor.org through to 15th March.
If the campaign to purchase the house is successful, donors will have an array of benefits: from having their name listed in the Red Book of funders that will sit in Tolkien’s study, to being invited to VIP events and even overnight stays – depending on the level of donation.
For more information, see: www.projectnorthmoor.org
Picture: Tolkien’s former home in Oxford. (Breckon and Breckon).