JRR Tolkien snubbed by 1961 Nobel jury

JRR Tolkien snubbed by 1961 Nobel jury
Newly-released documents have revealed that novelist JRR Tolkien was passed over for the Nobel literature prize in 1961, after his storytelling in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was described as second rate. Declassified after 50 years, the papers show that Tolkien was nominated for the award by fellow author CS Lewis but that the Nobel prize jury had said of his work: “The result has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality”. The documents also reveal that British writer Graham Greene – who never won the Nobel prize – was the jury's runner-up, followed by Karen Blixen, the Danish writer of Out of Africa. Other prominent authors put forward for the Nobel prize in 1961 were EM Forster and Lawrence Durrell. 

 

Metal plaque discovered on Hadrian’s Wall

 
Experts are currently trying to work out how to remove a small metal memorial plaque stuck to stonework on Hadrian’s Wall. A local resident reported the plaque, which is fastened with strong glue and bears the date August 2010, to authorities before Christmas. Experts from the National Trust are now trying to work out how to remove it without causing further damage to the wall. The Roman wall is a World Heritage Site and a scheduled monument, making it illegal to deface or damage it.
 
 

Beethoven letter discovered in Germany

 
A six-page letter written by composer Ludwig van Beethoven has come to light in Germany after being left in a will. The document, which was written in 1823, contains complaints of illness and a lack of money, and asks harpist and composer Franz Anton Stockhausen to help find advance buyers for his Missa Solemnis mass. The letter also contains details of an eye disorder that Beethoven was suffering from at the time. Experts believe Beethoven’s untidy handwriting was due to the fact his father took him out of school very early so he could concentrate on music. The letter will be displayed at the Brahms Institute in Lubeck. 
 
 

Ideas wanted for Horrible Histories

 
Work has begun on series five of the popular CBBC TV show Horrible Histories, and the team is on the look-out for fascinating and funny historical facts to help inspire a love of the past in young people. If you have an absurd, astonishing or amazing bit of history knowledge – particularly Scottish, Welsh, Irish and local history – email your suggestion to horrible.histories@liontv.co.uk. If your idea is made into a sketch, you may even be invited along to watch it being filmed.

 

Lyndhurst dig reveals medieval life

 
An archaeological dig at St Michael and All Angels church in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, has revealed evidence of a 12th-century settlement in the town. Around a quarter of the finds, which include 350 shards of pottery and jars and rims of jugs, have been described as medieval. The investigation has also revealed that the distinctive mound on which the church stands was not man-made, as was previously thought.
 
 

US court to rule on Boston College Troubles archive

 
An American court is to decide whether interviews with former terrorists should be handed over to Northern Irish authorities, following requests by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to gain access to interviews with former republicans and loyalists held by Boston College. The accounts are being sought by detectives who are investigating the deaths of people murdered and secretly buried by the IRA, including that of Jean McConville in 1972.
 
 

And finally…

 
A caucasian wingnut tree at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, near Weymouth, thought to have been brought to Dorset by the botanist and fourth Earl of Ilchester, William Fox-Strangways, is to be felled after tests revealed its trunk to be rotten. The tree, which was planted in 1845, is over 90ft tall and is believed to be the largest of its kind in Britain.
 
 
 

 

Charlotte Hodgman

 

Charlotte Hodgman is Features Editor for BBC History Magazine 

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