Aktualności ze świata miłośników twórczości Tolkiena

How it all began.
The introduction to the #TolkienAncestry

This is the first part of Ryszard Derdzinski’s essay on the history of the Tolkien family. It was translated into English by Juliusz Żebrowski.


Johann Benjamin Tolkien (Tollkühn) was baptized on 11 June 1752 at St Salvator, Gdańsk

When my friend Tomasz Gubała and I started our journey – which we called „Tołkiny 2010” – to Gdańsk and the former Prussia in the summer of 2010, I was guided by curiosity of the places which were far and unknown to me. I was also glad that due to our passion for Tolkien we were on our way again. I could not expect that the quest would last seven years, including some breaks, and that it would result in so many interesting discoveries.

It all started from a small piece of information on English language version of Wikipedia (yes, this tool may trigger a real scientific adventure!), where in the profile of the writer J. R. R. Tolkien I read about an alternative (compared to the official) etymology of the surname and about a certain village Tołkiny in Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship (in the historical land of Bartia in Lower Prussia) that the surname could be related with.

I am a graduate of the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Silesia in Katowice. My major was history of administrative autonomy (I have always been sure that this kind of interest has also been fuelled by my passion for Tolkien and particularly Hobbits and their autonomous, in a positive sense ?anarchic?, land of the Shire), whereas working with historical sources, texts in old or extinct languages, materials from the North of Europe has always given me plenty of pleasure. Preparations for the „Tołkiny 2010” expedition involved collection of historical accounts concerning Rastembork – today’s Kętrzyn – and its neighbourhood where Tołkiny is located (presently it is a settlement in the municipality of Korsze), search query of the 14th- and 15th-century Teutonic records (this is where the name and surname Tolk emerges for the first time with the Tolkyn/Tokin variants and also the place name Tolksdorf/Tolkynen) and insight in Prussian language and mediaeval German of the Teutonic State. The journey took me through beautiful and interesting places, allowed me to meet great people and to buy fantastic books that helped me do further research. Visiting Gdańsk I had no idea that probably it had been there that in ca. 1772 the great-great-grandfather of J. R. R. Tolkien and the former’s brother had left behind for England to start a new life in London (which commenced the English line of the Tolkien/Tollkühn family of German descent with Professor Tolkien as its future venerable member). That I got to know in December 2016.

I will make an attempt to describe the current state of our knowledge on the origin of the surname Tolkien and on how widely it has been used. Moreover, I want to report on my own research and to present the reconstructed history of J. R. R. Tolkien’s ancestors in Gdańsk and London. Some research perspectives for what I called #TolkienAncestry for Internet use will be described here, too. In another (forthcoming) text I am going to present my findings considering the surname Tolkien’s history between the 14th and 18th century and to mention its more prominent bearers.

to be continued

Kategorie wpisu: Eseje tolkienowskie

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The introduction to the #TolkienAncestry"

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