Pierre Vinet/New Line
A battle is waging to claim dominion over the birthplace of Middle-earth — though nothing as dramatic as the war against Sauron.
The Oxford home of late fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien is up for sale, and some of the stars from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies are calling on fans to help a charity organization purchase the property to create a literary center dedicated to Tolkien.
Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli, Treebeard) from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Martin Freeman (Bilbo) from The Hobbit, and Annie Lennox (singer of the Oscar-winning "Into the West" from the Return of the King soundtrack) are some of those voicing their support for crowd-funding campaign Project Northmoor.
Sir Derek Jacobi, who appeared opposite Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins in last year's Tolkien biopic, is also seen joining the call in a video announcement released this week. Others include The Lord of the Rings illustrator John Howe; A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and the Great War author Joseph Loconte; and Cliff Broadway from Tolkien fan site TheOneRing.net.
— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) December 2, 2020
The campaign launched on Dec. 2 with a call for donations from Tolkien fans. Award-winning author Julia Golding, who helped launch the campaign, negotiated a three-month fundraising window with the current owner.
The goal is to raise $6 million (approximately £4.5m), but only $5.3 million is needed to buy the house. In the event $6.1 million is raised, the campaign will fund renovations and restore the garden. If they hit the $6.2 million mark, they can fund a scholarship for those from low-income backgrounds to attend creative courses and special events at the house. A $6.3 million total will fund the building of a hobbit house at the end of the garden, while $6.45 million could get a flet in Tolkien’s tree and Smaug’s lair for pipe smokers.
“We cannot achieve this without the support of the worldwide community of Tolkien fans, our fellowship of funders,” McKellen says.
"Unbelievably, considering his importance, there is no centre devoted to Tolkien anywhere in the world," Rhys-Davies adds. "The vision is to make Tolkien's house into a literary hub that will inspire new generations of writers, artists, and filmmakers for many years to come."