The Road to Middle-earth – A profile of Peter Kenny

The Road to Middle-earth.

Peter Kenny, who has been reading and studying J.R.R.R Tolkien’s writings for several years, has become a creative and innovative Middle-earth presenter, collector and exhibitor.

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

 (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter 1.)

 The Beginnings.

In early 1976 I was a young teacher who had been transferred to the sugar cane growing district of Bundaberg. Living in a new town I met people from various different walks of life and this experience would open new doors in my life. It is said new friendships are doorways to new worlds and one doorway led me to a road which I would follow to the wonderful world of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Little did I realise back then that a large, single volume paperback, called “The Lord of the Rings”, given as a gift, would create in me a person who is now a passionate Tolkien fan who has gathered a large diverse collection of Tolkien books and memorabilia and attends overseas events as a presenter of various Tolkien related subjects.

Today, as Director of a non-profit small business that supports Children’s Literacy, The Fortinbras Proudfoot Esq Foundation, I have the opportunity to promote myself as a sought after speaker of note about The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Tolkien the author.

That first contact with the Tolkien phenomenon was fairly slow going and the story “The Lord of the Rings”, was arousing no interest in me as its opening chapters failed to capture my imagination. The book remained unfinished for a considerable time. I revisited the book on occasions, skipping chapters to read only those I considered to be exciting, but largely it remained unfinished for a considerable time.

It was 1978 when I met “The Hobbit”.  A teacher colleague was reading the story to our students and I suddenly became aware of the link between this story and “The Lord of the Rings”. Those previously uninteresting opening chapters now became enthralling to me.  I soon bought a copy of “The Hobbit” and within a few weeks I had read this story and the unfinished “The Lord of the Rings”.

 

“I had opened the door to Middle-earth and stepped onto the road which I would follow with eager feet.”

The Collection.

My passion for everything Tolkien was born and I now wanted to read more stories about Middle-earth. I searched bookstores and soon purchased hardback copies of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”. Soon after I found the ‘Silmarillion” and “Unfinished Tales” and read them straight away. I still have these books and the original paperback I was given back in 1976.

Besides purchasing books I kept a look out for any posters, pictures or other collectibles that may be associated with Tolkien’s world. In those early years  my collection grew very slowly and after ten years it included just eight hardbacks, a couple of paperbacks, three poster maps and a couple of calendars.

In 1988 I transferred back to Brisbane in my job as a teacher and I continued searching for books and collectibles. The collection began to slowly increase in size, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t find more and living far removed from Europe and the US meant I had little knowledge of the vast numbers of items that could be collected.

1992 was the Centenary of Tolkien’s birth and over the next few years many books of Tolkien titles and related subjects were published. As well as from local book stores, I began acquiring books from overseas sources. By the time the movie (“Fellowship of the Ring”) was released at the end of 2001, I already had a sizeable collection which mainly comprised books but I also had acquired some pewter pieces, a chess set, audio books, calendars, cards, maps and posters.

With the release of the movies I diversified the collection considerably and books for a time took a secondary role in my search for new acquisitions. I now have a large number of movie related items in my collection.

In recent years I’ve started once again concentrating on books. I now have over 350 books in my collection including various editions of “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Hobbit”, and numerous editions of Tolkien’s other major works and stories. Some of these books are special, hard to find editions and a few are very rare. Currently there are over 800 items in my collection plus about 3500 Collector cards.

 

 “The road I began to follow years before was leading me to a larger way where many paths meet.”

 

 Exhibits and Presentations.

During my forty years as a teacher I often used “The Hobbit” as a literacy unit in the classroom and shared Tolkien’s world with hundreds of students through reading stories, composing and art. Today I am semi-retired from classroom duties but continue the tradition of educating people about Tolkien’s stories by sharing my knowledge and collectibles both at home and overseas.

In 2005 the Queensland State Library promoted a program about collections and I was selected as a guest presenter.  Following that opportunity I started presenting Tolkien related subjects to a variety of audiences at local Libraries, functions and events.

My different presentations are suited to different age groups and have been received cordially by adults, teenagers and small children. At Supanova Pop Culture on the Gold Coast, April 2012, I gave a presentation of videos, slides and discussions on the upcoming Hobbit Movie. This was presented in a theatre to a large audience who were very receptive and all present appeared to enjoy the experience.

In local newspapers, a few short articles, including photos have been written about my collection and presentations. In May 2011, I was afforded the opportunity to present my collection on the ABC Television show “Collectors”.

In 2010 my passionfor Tolkien’s stories led me overseas to “The Festival in the Shire” in Wales where I was a guest performer and presenter. The following year, I was given the opportunity to be a presenter at The Tolkien Shop’s 25th Anniversary Celebrations, which resulted in a written review of my performance in a Dutch newspaper. While I was in Europe at that time, I also attended The Tolkien Society’s Oxonmoot in England and Ring*Con, The Fantasy Convention, in Germany.  Although I did not present in an official capacity at these two events, I did give a couple of impromptu presentations of poems and songs.

“The Return of the Ring” in England, The Austrian Tolkien Society’s 10th Anniversary, “The Hobbit 75th Anniversary” in The Netherlands and “Ring*Con” in Germany are major events on the Tolkien Calendar in 2012 at which I will be giving a number of presentations.

Travelling to events in Europe has led to friendships with people who have been immersed in the world of Tolkien for many years and have help to expand my horizons and knowledge. These people include writers, artists, presenters, business people and educators who are recognised as experts in their respective fields associated with the genre.

The Hobbit Hole.

“MADDIE’S HOBBIT HOLE HAS FOUND A NEW HOME IN AUSTRALIA AS PART OF THE NEWLY REGISTERED FORTINBRAS PROUDFOOT ESQ FOUNDATION.”

in 2011 I acquired a new wonderful item for my collection. This unique hand-made miniature Bag End Hobbit Hole was acquired for The Fortinbras Proudfoot Esq. Foundation from its creator Maddie Chambers. It is a replica based on the “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” movie and is simply amazing. Maddie is excited her “labour of love” has found such a worthy home. The Foundation will use Maddie’s Hobbit Hole as a central piece in its publicity to create awareness for its fund.

A miniature version of Bilbo Baggin’s house, Bag End, it  is displayed on a 116cm x 102cm base covered by a clear Perspex top so that both the outside and  the interior rooms can be viewed –  from the round front door and porthole windows, right down to the Middle-earth maps and the barrel of pipe-weed inside.

This very exciting and beautiful piece of miniature tabletop scenery has enthralled model-makers, doll’s house lovers and fans of the Lord of the Rings wherever it has been displayed. It has been on display for the Sci-Fi Fantasy Month, Supanova and various Council Libraries here in Brisbane.

New Zealand.

I have travelled occasionally to New Zealand where I have visited several Lord of the Rings movie locations including The Hobbiton Movie Site. In New Zealand I have made friendships with various people who are involved in industries associated with The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies. A highlight in New Zealand was an appearance on TV1 National News in December 2011, where I commented on “The Hobbit” trailer after viewing its release in the television studio before it went to air on the internet. In late 2012 a trip to New Zealand is planned for The Hobbit Movie Premiere and also setting up displays locally to coincide with the release of the movie here.

As part of the promotion of The Fortinbras Proudfoot Esq Foundation a web site is now established for information about local Tolkien related matters and it is still being developed to include more news and information from overseas.

Recently The Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship has been established and it is hoped through the new group that all these goals can be further developed and include a wider audience here in Brisbane.

Over the last few years I have been putting pen to paper and composing poems and short stories based on the characters and realms of Middle-earth. Plans to publish these writings in a small booklet form are being formulated and it is hoped that it will be released late 2012 as further promotion for The Fortinbras Proudfoot Esq Foundation.

In the future I will be pursuing new opportunities for presentations, displays and innovative ways to support Children’s Literacy through the sharing of the world and writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.

 

“That road I stepped onto more than 36 years ago led to a larger way where many paths and errands meet. Where they lead I am still discovering as the road I found all those years ago still goes ever on and on and I must follow if I can.”

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