TOLKIEN'S BOOKSHELF #3: THE STORY OF THE GLITTERING PLAIN - ILLUSTRATED. On May 8, 1891, Kelmscott Press published its first book, 'The Story of the Glittering Plain'. This fantasy novel by the famous 19th century English designer, artist and writer William Morris describes the journey of Hallblithe, a young man on an epic quest to rescue his love. J.R.R. Tolkien was two years old when the second edition was published in 1894, complete with decorated borders and capitals by Morris and richly detailed illustrations by Walter Crane. This is a close copy of that book. William Morris was an enormous influence on Tolkien's literary interests. Tolkien discovered Morris's translations in his teens, and his interest in Morris deepened at Exeter College, Oxford, where Morris had also been an undergraduate. When Tolkien was twenty-two he spoke of 'Morris's romances' in a letter to his sweetheart Edith. In 1960 he was still acknowledging his debt of inspiration to Morris, noting that certain elements in 'The Lord of the Rings' '...owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme. They owe more to William Morris and his Huns and Romans...' Like Morris, the illustrator Walter Crane was associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement. Crane is considered to be the most prolific and influential children's book creator of his generation. 'The Story of the Glittering Plain' is one of several William Morris works known to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien's creation of 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'.
This short tome ... tells the ... story of a young hero whose bride-to-be is kidnapped, and of the travels and travails he must undergo to get her back. The tale is set in fictional Nordic lands (and seas) of a fictional past that roughly corresponds to the real era of Viking conquests. ... Although it is a fantasy, magic is all hidden around the edges and it comes off more as an adventure yarn than as a swords & sorcery precursor. ...I consider reading it worthwhile and I think it would make a worthy addition to the library of anyone else who is collecting early works of fantasy. This edition contains the original woodcut illustrations, which are a great supplement to the story.