The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sees JRR Tolkien revolver go on display

Posted on 16 December 2013
By Pierce King
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A service revolver used by The Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien in the First World War is set to go on display, giving a unique insight into the man who created the epic battles of Middle Earth.

Tolkien often pointed to his experience of war as a direct influence on the epic stories the fantastical battles which play out on Middle Earth.

The writer’s Webley Mk V was the standard British service revolver at the time of the outbreak of the WWI.

Tolkien’s First World War revolver is to go on public display at IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, in Manchester.

After graduating from the University of Oxford in June 1915, Tolkien won a commission in the army as a Second Lieutenant.

The Hobbit writer was posted to the 11th Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers and endured the front line trenches of the Somme throughout the summer and autumn of 1916.

Between June and November 1916, more than 1 million people were killed in The Battle of The Somme.

At the end of October, weighed down by weeks of tension and wretched conditions, Tolkien contracted trench fever and was sent back to hospital in Birmingham.

He remained unfit for the rest of the war. It was at this time that he began to write early versions of his ‘Middle Earth’ stories.

Tolkien’s revolver will be displayed in IWM North’s Main Exhibition Space this December, ahead of the opening of their exhibition: From Street To Trench: A War That Shaped a Region.

Graham Boxer, Director of IWM North, said: “This is an exciting exhibit and a rare chance to see a slice of life which inspired one of Britain’s’s best loved authors.

“We are expecting huge interest in the revolver as the latest The Hobbit film is released, this is a chance for people to the weapon he used in war and connect further with Tolkien’s magical stories.

“He often said that the inspiration for his stories were born from his harrowing wartime experiences.”