From Norse mythology and Christian faith to his fellow fantasy writers and the very real battlegrounds of World War I, join us as we explore the varied and unlikely inspirations that shaped J.R.R. Tolkien’s much-loved fantasy worlds. Chaired by the University of Leeds’ medieval literature lecturer Catherine J. Batt, this event’s panel includes Tolkien biographer John Garth and medieval literary, history and Norse mythology expert Alaric Hall.

About The Chair

Catherine J Batt Headshot

Catherine Batt

Dr Catherine J Batt is senior lecturer in medieval literature at the University of Leeds. Before Leeds, Dr Batt taught at Durham and Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, Queen Mary and Westfield College, and Birkbeck College, University of London. In 2007-2008 she was a visiting associate professor in the Department of English, Fordham University, The Bronx, New York. Her research interests include medieval English literature, Arthurian legend, gender studies and more. 


About The Speaker

Headshot of Associate Professor Alaric Hall

Alaric Hall

Alaric Hall is J. R. R. Tolkien’s distant successor as a lecturer in medieval at the University of Leeds. Whereas Tolkien stayed for five years, however, Hall arrived in 2007 as still has not left. Before that, Hall studied at Cambridge, Glasgow, and Helsinki. He is the author of Elves in Anglo-Saxon England: Matters of Belief, Health, Gender and Identity (2007) and Útrásarvíkingar! The Literature of the Icelandic Financial Crisis (2008–2014) (2020). He is also the director of the Leeds Institute for Medieval Studies. 

About The Author

John Garth by Erin Beck 2015 smile crop

John Garth

Tolkien expert John Garth is an author, freelance writer and editor. Known worldwide for his award-winning work on Tolkien, he talks and teaches internationally. His latest book, The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired Middle-earth, was published in the UK and the USA, with translations into several languages.

Tolkien and the Great War is his acclaimed and award-winning book about the origins of Middle-earth against the backdrop of the First World War, and about Tolkien’s all-important friendships with his friends in the T.C.B.S. His booklet Tolkien at Exeter College is a vital and richly illustrated book on the key undergraduate years when Middle-earth was conceived. John is also a contributor to the forthcoming collection of essays in memory of Christopher Tolkien, The Great Tales Never End.