Over on Twitter, Tom Hillman has started a thread of birthday wishes for preeminent Tolkien scholar, Professor Verlyn Flieger, and I would like to add my tribute here as well.
I wanted to take a moment to wish Verlyn Flieger a happy birthday, and thank her not only for her decades of excellent work elevating Tolkien Studies, but also the example of graciousness and kindness she set in doing it. Happy birthday, my friend.
I wanted to let everybody who has contributed a video know that I will be forwarding them to Verlyn tonight or tomorrw. She has a twitter account but I don't think she's ever used it. Thanks also to everyone who has liked, retweeted, or even just watched these videos.
I threatened to show up at her door with thirteen dwarves and a wizard. Right now we have 7 videos. With another 7, we'll be ready to knock on her door and eat all her seedcake.
Originally tweeted by Tom (@alas_not_me) on February 24, 2023.
I admire Dr. Flieger immensely, not only for her significant and essential work on Tolkien, but also for her kindness and generosity. Instead of presenting herself as the only expert who could ever understand Tolkien, she eschews gatekeeping and encourages anyone who is interested to engage in Tolkien scholarship. We certainly need a lot more of this kind of person in the academic world and in the Tolkien community.
Her list of books and editions is significant and essential reading:
- Splintered Light: Language and Logos in Tolkien’s World
- A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie
- Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien’s Mythology
- Smith of Wooton Major
- Tolkien On Fairy-Stories (with Douglas A. Anderson)
- The Story of Kullervo
- The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
This list doesn’t even begin to cover her articles and presentations, her editing of the journal Tolkien Studies, or her creative writing. To learn more about her work, you can take a look at the introduction to a volume published in her honour, A Wilderness of Dragons: Essays in Honor of Verlyn Flieger, edited by John D. Rateliff, published by Gabbro Head Press in 2018.
I was honoured to have an essay in that volume, “Seers and Singers: Tolkien’s Typology of Sub-Creators” which was inspired by Dr. Flieger’s insights. In fact, she continues to explore Tolkien’s works and has given me a lot to think about after her talk in 2021 as the Annual Guest Speaker to the Tolkien Society: “Waiting for Earendel.”
But enough of my words; enjoy Professor Flieger herself: