Mathew Lyons: author

There and Back Again: In the Footsteps of JRR Tolkien
From the publisher: ‘To this day, JRR Tolkien fans throughout the world argue incessantly about the sources of his inspiration for The Lord of the Rings, particularly the actual places that inspired the extraordinary detailed landscapes of Middle Earth. When Tolkien started to create Middle Earth, his express intention was to create a mythology for England – based on his understanding of its people, its history and above all its landscape, and there is little doubt that Tolkien’s work is steeped in a profound love for the English countryside at that time - which was vanishing before his very eyes.

‘In a hugely compelling and original book, Mathew Lyons draws on his own fascination for the novels of JRR Tolkien, by following in his footsteps through the English landscapes and countryside that inspired one of England's greatest writers - from charming Staffordshire villages to breath-taking Somerset caves. Tolkien may have given little away directly, but Lyons argues that clues exist throughout his work, in his letters and in interviews, to the places whose beauties Tolkien celebrated in The Lord of the Rings.

‘ No ordinary travelogue, There And Back Again examines the rich variety of England as Tolkien most likely saw it, peeling back the layers of history to the Victorian world of Tolkien's childhood; to the Anglo-Saxon world of heroes and myth; and further back still to a world beyond history's reach.’

Praise for There and Back Again
‘[A]n erudite and engaging work … This delightful, well-written book … keenly observed and precisely detailed… [he] is very good at evoking a sense of place and giving the armchair traveler something to savor in his prose. And he is in touch with the child’s sense of wonder that led him, like so many others, to Tolkien in the first place.’
David Armstrong, San Francisco Chronicle

‘I read it with great interest, and think it is an excellent guide not only to Tolkien’s actual real-life physical environment, but also to his deepest feelings about England, about landscape, about history and prehistory. Any reader of Tolkien would also profit greatly from reading Lyons.’
Professor Tom Shippey, author of JRR Tolkien, Author of the Century and The Road to Middle Earth

‘A thoughtful journey into the heart of Tolkien country… Tolkien fans will surely appreciate Lyons’ insight and prickly intelligence.’
June Sawyer, Chicago Tribune

‘This wry, thoughtful work is no conventional guidebook… What emerges most clearly is [Lyons’] own bittersweet relationship with a writer who was driven to convey “the sense of a fallen world, of greatness and beauty fading, of both death and immortality as kinds of curses”… Lyons is droll enough to avoid those besetting sins of Tolkien enthusiasts, humourlessness and pomposity… [he] gets
this reviewer’s nod.’
Christopher Somerville, Daily Telegraph