Literary Dispatches from London -- J.R.R. Tolkein


As you can tell from my other literary dispatches, I had a great time touring Oxford, visiting the pub where the Inklings writing group met and being wowed in the St. Mary’s passage, which was leading to Narnia. Of all the places I visited, I wish more than anything I had more time in Oxford. Travel guru Rick Steves says Oxford and Cambridge are interchangeable, but I disagree. Oxford was someplace very special, and I didn’t even get to see all the places associated with Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, including a visit to the St Margaret’s Well, part of St. Margaret’s Church in Binsey, and purportedly the inspiration for the story’s treacle well. Lewis Carrol, whose real name was Charles Dodgson, was a student at Oxford and later a tutor. It was as a tutor that he met Alice Liddel, the girl whose father was the college’s dean and inspired the story of Alice in Wonderland.

Anyway, just moments after walking out of St. Mary’s passage, I saw multiple buildings that inspired many of the prominent locations in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In front of me, was the Radcliffe Camara. It is a library in real life, but it was the inspiration for Sauron’s temple to Morgoth on Nümenor.


Then, turning to the right, are two towers that dominate the sky above All Souls College. These were supposedly the inspiration for Tolkien’s Two Towers (“The Two Towers” is the second volume in the Lord of the Rings trilogy or books 3 and 4, if you want to get super technical), and, seeing them in person, it is easy to understand why. The towers dominate the sky. It was impressive today, and it’s really hard to imagine the awe that these towers garnered when built.

There is an old adage, “write what you know.” To a certain extent, that is true, but I’d modify that advice ever so slightly. I recommend that you “start writing what you know” and then take your readers to places unknown. Tell a story that only you can tell, because that is a story that needs to be heard.

JD Trafford is the award-winning author of six novels, including “Little Boy Lost” which has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. His latest best-selling legal thriller “Without Precedent” is available right now. You can learn more about or purchase J.D. Trafford’s books at




Darrin Friedman