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[page 20] HOBBITS AND HEROES by ANTHONY CURTIS What happens to Oxford and Cambridge professors of English when they retire? It seems that they go to live in Headington, the town at the top of the hill as you take the A.40 out of Oxford. Both C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien live out there within a few miles of each other, and both are still hard at work. Tolkien, who retired from his professorship in 1959, has since been putting into order a further huge installment of "The Fellowship of the Ring," the three volumes of which have together sold 156,000 copies. "The hobbits don't come into this," he explained, puffing at his pipe. "They of course represented the simple, rustic farming people I was brought up amongst - I just couldn't go on with that story. It would have become too grim. "This deals with an earlier period and concerns a more rational, humanoid type of creature, and the powers of evil. The problem is to get across a whole mythology which I've invented before you get down to the stories. "For instance, you can't expect people to believe in a flat earth any more... half-way through, the elves discover the earth is round... there's a great armada and a kind of Atlantis-theme - I've always been fascinated by the lost continent - and a lot about immortality. "You see, both the idea of death and the thought of immortality on earth - Swift's struldbrugs - are equally intolerable. The whole thing will be dominated by three jewels, symbols of beauty rather than power... . But I mustn't give too much away." Inspiration for these stories of dwarves, elves and hobbits came when Tolkien was in the hospital during the first world war, and he's been working away at them ever since. He has been gratified and a little taken aback by the huge public he has now collected for himself. "You know," he smiled, "there's nothing helps so much as a bad review." From: _The Sunday Telegraph_, November 10th, 1963. quoted by Jim Cawthorne