J.R.R. Tolkien’s House Is for Sale, Could Become Cultural Center

A high-profile fundraising campaign is underway

Author J.R.R. Tolkien 1955
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in 1955.
Haywood Magee/Getty Images

No, it’s not a hobbit house — but it is a house where a lot of hobbits were written about. J.R.R. Tolkien lived at 20 Northmoor Road in Oxford with his family from 1930 to 1947, and it was there that he wrote The Hobbit and a significant portion of The Lord of the Rings. Now, The New York Times reports, the house in question is on the market, and there’s a high-profile effort underway to turn it into a cultural center dedicated to the late author’s life and work.

Last year, the Times reports, the house went on the market with a price of around $6 million. The price then dropped to $5.3 million, though the latest listing was recently taken down. Why? Because of the efforts of Project Northwood, a nonprofit looking to establish a center dedicated to Tolkien’s work there. The organization’s website describes it as “a homely house of continuing creativity, inspiring new generations of writers, artists and filmmakers.”

The fundraising process also includes a video, featuring a number of actors who have played Tolkien’s creations on screen.

Project Northwood notes that the planned center would not be a conventional museum, in part due to local zoning and in part because the house is situated in a residential area — not exactly the ideal spot for a highly trafficked museum. Instead, the center would offer courses and the opportunity for “short stays” there.

The fundraising goal is $6 million, though Project Northwood’s website also offers suggestions as to what could be done if that goal is exceeded. This includes some very noble goals, including the establishment of a fund for financial support for course and event attendees, to more whimsical ones. And yes, as it turns out, that might include the creation of a hobbit house in the garden.

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