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Remembered Today:

Tolkien and the French undergrouds


Guest gamine
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Guest gamine

I am a french caver looking for some informations concerning the underground places where Tolkien (Tolkien belonged to the 25th division, 11th Lancashire Fusiliers) could have spent time, during his stay in France, for the battles of the Somme. Indeed, I am writing an article on the undergrounds in his books, and I studying the influence of what he really saw.

I would like to know if he went in quarries, "muches" or other undergrouds during his stay in France, their names, and their localisation if possible. I plan to go in theses places and take some pictures and look for some writings on the walls of theses places.

I'll be glad for any clue that could be provided and want to thank you all for the amazing job you're dowing here retrieving all this memories.

Ms. Sylvie Delaire, Paris.

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Bonjour Sylvie et bienvenue au forum. It may help members to know that 'muches' are man-made and natural caverns, cave systems, subterranean quarries (like the Carrières Wellington at Arras), catacombs and the like. The more general term 'souterrains' is also used in English.

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Tolken drew very much on his experiences of the British Midlands and Welsh Marches for names and places. So for example there were real Mines of Moira, signposted as such, near Ashby de la Zouch (not to mention a large iron and steelworks at Dale [although not dwarf worked!] a river called the Entwash. a village called Bree [although the Prancing Pony Inn on the road from Fromes Hill to Liegh Sinton was much closer to where he spent his childhood and has only recently been closed] etc etc). The Teme valley where he spent much of his childhood may have been the model for the Shire and at this time there would still have been drift mines nearby around Nash and Boraston. Birchley Bank on one side of the valley gives superb views out to the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons which may have been the original Misty Mountains

So whilst not wishing to dampen your enthusiasm it might be unwise to assume that his underground is drawn from his time in France.

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There is a book, Tolkien and the Great War, whose author I cannot immediately remember (John Garth?); also a chapter on Mordor and the Western Front in Humphrey Carpenter's book Secret Gardens: the Golden Age of British Children's Books. Might also be worth checking Carpenter's JRR Tolkien, a biography & his edition of JRRT's letters.

sJ

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Watch for orcs!

And carry a balrog detector at all times (and whatever you do do not drop stones down any well or shaft)

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