Meet your webmaster!
Photo by Malcolm Marchbank
This photo was taken by my step-daughter Emma. She really loves me in this hat
Pam & I at the first showing of FOTR, Dec 19, 2001. Photo by Natasha Lee. Note the alt-tolkien.com t-shirt
It may be immodest of me but I'm always interested to "meet" the people behind my favourite websites. This page is my attempt at repaying the compliment!
My interest in Tolkien began when I was around 15. A friend lent me The Lord of the Rings, one volume at a time, and I read them cover-to-cover in a matter of weeks. I was hooked! My parents advance-ordered The Silmarillion when it first came out in hardback. I can still remember the delicious torture, coming home from school each day - "Has it arrived yet?!" ...
By the time I left school I was writing letters to friends in Tengwar script. I had hand copied the maps (who hasn't?) and attempted a balsa-wood model of Aragorn: it must still be around somewhere, though it was never completed.
When I started University I was known for my dedication to Middle-earth - but then other interests and pursuits lured me away (I'll leave those to your imagination). It wasn't until around 1987 that I turned once again to the great man's works.
What brought me back?
Indirectly, it was a fantasy book club. As part of my introductory set of books I ordered The Mythic Tarot. I experimented with the book and deck of cards and was soon reading all I could about the traditions and history of the Tarot.
I soon discovered that there were literally hundreds of Tarot decks, with imagery based on everything from the Kabbalah to Alice in Wonderland. I was amazed there was (at that time) no commercially available deck based on Tolkien's Middle-earth. I decided to create one: a project which by various turns led me to the Taratir archetypes and the Tresco manuscript. [More on the Tresco MS is available here].
Around this time I joined the Tolkien Society and wrote a number of short articles on calendar lore which were published in the Society's bulletin Amon Hen. Thanks to Chris Seeman I also contributed material to Iron Crown Enterprises' Middle-earth Role-play (MERP) modules, including Southern Gondor: the People and The Northern Wastes.
It soon became clear, however, that the Tolkien Society had no vehicle for the kind of material I was then producing (and wanted to read): material exploring the interface between Middle-earth and our own realm. So, with Chris Seeman and Reg Arnold I founded Middle-earth Reunion in 1996 to provide just such a forum.
Issue #1 of our magazine Reunion was published in June of that year. In those days the mag was created using WordPerfect 5.1 on a 386 PC and printed at work when no-one was looking. It was a big day when Pam and I took delivery of our first home computer - a Pentium 200. For the first time I could produce the magazine in colour!
Another major event was the launch of our first website under the "Arda Online" banner. This acted as a showcase for our members' endeavours and attracted a lot of new interest. The website was ovehauled and relaunched as "Middle-earth Reunion" under the newly acquired alt-tolkien.com domain name in April 2001.
Middle-earth Reunion now has around 200 members (January 2002) and is going from strength to strength (if you are reading this and are not already a member, click here to find out why you should be!)
At times it can seem a lot of work: administering the website; writing for, editing and publishing our magazine and newsletter; corresponding with members and other interested folk ... but the rewards are many. Through MeR I have met so many interesting and lovely people. In the famous words:
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve ...
So here's to the next five years of Middle-earth Reunion. The next one hundred years!