John was a soldier huddled in the trenches facing No Man’s Land, feeling the most wretched he had ever been. He was cold and hungry, overwhelmed with the stench of unwashed bodies and infected wounds, the nearly endless rounds of gunfire and grenade explosions, the screams of the dying.

Sometimes he felt as if he would never again know the taste of bread and a proper cuppa tea, to breathe in air that was not foully tainted by the Enemy’s noxious poisons. Sometimes he felt that they were all under the pitiless gaze of some great Eye, naked in the Dark.

And then he heard an American voice say, “Don’t you understand? This is No Man’s Land. That means no man may cross it.”

And thus, John’s attention was captured by the hooded figure the American was speaking to. She dropped the cloak to reveal armor, that her hands carried a sword and a shield, and she ascended the ladder with steps swift and sure. John would always remember these words, though she herself had never said them aloud, but her actions spoke clear as day:

“I am no man.”

There she stood, a shining figure in the middle of No Man’s Land, facing the Enemy and drawing their fire, beautiful as the dawn, terrible as the sea, stronger than all the foundations of the Earth.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien does not remember how he scrambled up the ladder to follow after her, only that he and his fellow soldiers followed in Her wake, to fight by her side and onwards to victory.

J.R.R. Tolkien fell in love with Edith Mary Tolkien when he was 16 and she 19. His guardian disapproved (both he and Edith were orphans), but they finally married when Tolkien was 24 — just a few months before he was deployed to the Somme.

The next year, Tolkien began composing the earliest version of a tale to which he would always return. It’s about the love of Beren, a mortal man, and Lúthien, daughter of the Elven King of the forest realm of Doriath. The disapproval of Lúthien’s father sends the two lovers on a series of perilous quests, but they rescue each other through bravery, music and love — with an assist from a magical dog.

Tolkien’s son, Christopher, proves an able guide through the story, three versions of which have been published in a new book.

‘Beren And Lúthien’ Reflects Tolkien’s Real Life Love Story


This is a set of three is a set of maps, illustrated by John Howe. Each of the maps is accompanied by a small linen book and commented by Brian Sibley. The set includes maps of Beleriand, Middle-earth and Wilderland.

The maps of Wilderland and Beleriand were available for some time only. We were lucky enough to finde these in Oxford!