While fantasy certainly existed before Frodo, Gollum and Middle-earth, as soon as visionary author J.R.R. Tolkien picked up his pen, the genre was never the same again. Tolkien’s influence on other beloved writers, like Terry Pratchett and George R. R. Martin, and on pop-culture products, like the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons, has been massive.

During this event, acclaimed authors Samantha Shannon and Courttia Newland join David Barnett for a discussion about Tolkien’s vast impact within literature, and how his writing has influenced them personally as writers.

About The Authors

Headhshot of author Samantha Shannon, stood in a courtyard by a tree with no leaves on it.

Samantha Shannon

Samantha Shannon is a writer of dystopian, fantasy and paranormal fiction and the New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of The Bone Season series. Her work has been translated into twenty-six languages. Her fourth novel, The Priory of the Orange Tree, was her first outside of The Bone Season series and was a New York Times bestseller. Speaking about the influence of Tolkien on her career, she says, “As a fantasy lover, I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t aware of JRR Tolkien. I read The Hobbit until it fell apart as a child, and have always strived, in my own contributions to the genre, to take even a shred of the care in my world-building that Tolkien did in his.”

Headshot of author Courttia Newland

Courttia Newland

Courttia Newland is the author of nine books including his much lauded debut, The Scholar. His latest novel, The Gospel According to Cane was published in 2013. He co-edited The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, and his short stories have featured in various anthologies and been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He was shortlisted for the 2007 CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the 2010 Alfred Fagon Award. In 2016 he was also awarded the Tayner Barbers Award for science fiction writing and the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting. As a screenwriter, he has written episodes of Steve McQueen’s 2020 BBC series Small Axe.

About The Chair

Image of David Barnett

David Barnett

David Barnett is an author and journalist based in West Yorkshire. His latest novel is Calling Major Tom, published by Trapeze. He writes mainly for the UK national press on books, culture and general topics, and is published regularly in the Guardian, Independent, and several magazines and online platforms.