Foxglove Year-ICON

'Foxglove Year', was painted in the summer of 1913, apparently notable for foxgloves and worth recording in watercolour. Tolkien had been doing paintings and drawings from life since boyhood. 1913 was also the year Tolkien became engaged to Edith Bratt. Fr. Francis Morgan, Tolkien's guardian, had forbidden him to see Edith until he'd come of age, and, on Tolkien's twenty-first birthday, 3 January 1913, he dashed off a proposal.

That summer, Edith was staying in Warwick with her cousin, Jennie Grove. Her relations, opposed to her conversion to Catholicism (she agreed to convert before marrying Tolkien, a devout Catholic), had turned her out. While Edith was in Warwick, Tolkien traveled into Worchestershire, staying for a while with his maternal cousins, the Incledons. They had a cottage in Barnt Green Tolkien loved to visit, both for the company of his cousins and its idyllic setting. At the bottom of this post I've included another watercolour Tolkien painted while staying there, a view of the Incledon's garden filled with flowers. In just one week it will have been one hundred years since Tolkien painted the foxgloves of Barnt Green. So much time has gone by, but Tolkien's watercolours are still vibrant and fresh.

Tolkien must have been feeling very content and high-hearted during his stay in Worchestershire, both because of the high summer beauty all around him and because he was engaged to Edith at last. Jan-u-wine's poem well conveys the mood, both of the watercolour and its painter.


Foxglove Year-RED

Foxglove Year

It was a foxglove year.

A foxglove year,

the sirening purple-ivory-pink
revelry of them

rioting within an

It was a foxglove year,
the winds above the oak
yet chill with retreated Winter,

the tender green of fern-shoots
growing about the chocolate ribbon
of rain-wet earth.

It was a foxglove year,
sun and shadow
among staid trees,

a robin's-egg sky
flying its lac'd flag
between wind-teased

A foxglove year:

a time of faerie,
a place of dreams

a moment of holding fast.


Incledon's Cottage-RED

~ The Incledon's Cottage at Barnt Green, 12 July 1913, by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Previous entry:

Tree of Amalion-ICON ~ "The Tree of Amalion" by jan-u-wine for drawing of the same name by Tolkien.

Other Links:
Nan's Reunion-ICON ~ All entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

The book in which I discovered a variety of Tolkien's art, not just his book illustrations, is the one this was scanned from. "J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator" by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull. I bought my copy used through Amazon a few years ago. It's still available.


Hammond and Scull's text is excellent at presenting and explaining the pictures.

From: [identity profile] ambree40.livejournal.com

The rhythm of that poem is really exultant, just like all the vertical lines in the paintings. A perfect match.
Thanks to you both.

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

thank you, Ambree! I'm so glad you enjoyed. Thanks to Mechtild, I am seeing (and writing to) a great many of Tolkien's visual works than I knew existed. It's a great adventure!

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

What a cool, noticing comment, Ambree. I'm so glad you enjoy jan-u-wine's work!

From: [identity profile] mole-caz.livejournal.com

The poem captures the emergence of life in Spring from the hibernation of winter so well and is beautiful in its simplicity. Thanks for sharing this little gem with us.

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

thank you so much, Moley! So happy that you like the post.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Hello, Moley, and thanks for stopping in to read and comment so thoughtfully. I love the theme of new life emerging after the seeming death of winter. :)

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com

Oh, what a lovely anniversary of Tolkien securing his Elven lady. I hadn't seen those watercolors before--lovely. Those are some riotous foxgloves. (-:

a robin's-egg sky
flying its lac'd flag
between wind-teased

Wonderful image! I loved this description of Jan's best.

I hope you and the kitties are well.

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

thank you so much, LT. I had a feeling you would love this wonderful picture!

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

I'm so pleased you enjoyed the entry, Lavender.

The kitties are fine. Still costly to keep healthy, but sooooooooo darling. Yours?

From: [identity profile] not-alone.livejournal.com

I think I might have told you this before, but we live really close to Barnt Green!! It's about a 20-25 minute drive away. And my brother-in-law and his wife actually live there. We recently had a meal with them at the Rose & Crown Inn which I'm almost certain is very close to the cottage in question. It's only very recently that I found out about the existence of that cottage - there was an article in the newspaper about it which I'd intended to keep but sadly somehow got mislaid.

>>Tolkien must have been feeling very content and high-hearted during his stay in Worchestershire, both because of the high summer beauty all around him and because he was engaged to Edith at last.<<

There is something so poignant about that when you consider the year - 1913. Little did he know what lay in store for him - and the rest of the world.

Many thanks to you both, Mechtild and Jan, for another interesting post and beautiful poem:)

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

You are so welcome, Paulie, me dear. I will be sure to let Jan know you commented.

You live near Barnt Green???? Is there still some of the loveliness Tolkien so much enjoyed in Worchestershire? I hope so. I read that the view he painted from the top of Bilberry Hill looking towards King's Norton is all built over (if that is also Worchestershire), but maybe it isn't true all over.

And what about your hip replacement? Is it a happening thing anytime soon? I'm beginning to think it's time for mine. I'm away again caring for my mother and I'm really feeling it. Who knows, we may be bonded in hip replacement-hood in 2013. :)

From: [identity profile] not-alone.livejournal.com

I can assure you, Mechtild, that most of Barnt Green is still very beautiful. My brother-in-law's garden has a lovely view of fields, usually full of sheep. I'm not sure about the view from Bilberry Hill, but the whole area is virtually at the foot of the Lickey Hills which are well-known as a beauty spot. When our children were young we often used to go walking in the woods there, it was especially lovely ate bluebell time.:)

I've been told I won't be having the hip replacement until I've had the op for the hiatus hernia and I still don't know when that will be. Sorry to hear you're a fellow sufferer!

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Oh, I am SO pleased the area of Barnt Green is still so beautiful. *sigh* Thanks for the detailed reassurance. I wish I could see it in person!

Here's a small internet copy of Tolkien's watercolour of the view of King's Norton from Bilberry Hill:


From: [identity profile] diem-kieu94.livejournal.com


What beautiful scenery Tolkien painted! It reminds me of when I went to France with my parents several years ago... *Sigh*!

By the way, Not Alone, Frodo looks SO sexy in your icon!

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

Hi, Paulie!

You know, I thought the same thing as you, when i noted the year. Still......I think there were many signs of what was about to happen, although no one could know how very cruel mankind would end up being to each other.

have you ever seen a cartoon called "Peace on Earth"? Everytime I see it, I think of Tolkien and what he saw in the war. Here is a link if you have never seen it


of course, were it not for that terrible war, would he have written LOTR? I wonder.....

I am glad you enjoyed the post, Paulie and hope you are well!

From: [identity profile] not-alone.livejournal.com

Thanks for the link, Jan - I'd never seen "Peace On Earth" before. Made in 1939 - so sad that it was about to start all over again.

We'll never know, of course, if Tolkien would still have written LOTR if there had been no WW1 but if he had it would probably have been very different in parts - we know that his experiences in the war were behind several events in the book:)

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

that was a marvelous cartoon, I think (and yes, how sad that it didn't prevent what happened next....but you never know the impact that it had then and now....you never know how incrementally some small thing like that can change the course of the great river of time)

(it was nominated for an Oscar, i believe)

Re Tolkien: not only the events, but, of course, the character of Samwise was modeled on an officer's 'batman'. And Tolkien (though I can't say I agree) has said that Sam is the hero of the piece. Just as i imagine that the Brit batman may very well have been the hero to many an officer's story.

From: [identity profile] pearlette.livejournal.com

Tolkien's watercolours are dreamy and beautiful. :) Where did you find these, Mechtild? Are they in that book about his art? 'Cause I have it back home ... (How come I missed them?)

Curious, in my line of work I came across someone with the surname Incledon the other day ...

It's Worcestershire, by the way. :) A beautiful county. Shakespeare's home county! And very, very Shire-like.

The summer of 1913 is renowned for being a very hot one. In the USA, but also in the UK, I think. Which makes me feel sad. A beautiful, dreamy, hot summer, content in the presence of the woman you love. A respite before the oncoming storm. Before the unimaginable carnage that would be unleashed. Before the war that would change our world forever. We are feeling the repercussions from that terrible war, 100 years later. As Tolkien said, 'the machines have won'.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

The paintings and drawings posted in this series almost all come from a great book by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, co-authors of J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (Houghton Mifflin, copyright 1995; paperback edition 2000). I bought mine a few years back on Amazon at a very good price ("used, like new"). I think there are still reasonably priced copies available. It not only has lots of pictures, the text by Hammond and Scull to go with them is insightful and informative. I highly recommend it.

I didn't realize 1913's summer was an especially warm one, Pearl. If it wasn't too dry, I imagine the gardens and crops must have done very well. Yes, it's ironic that such a verdant summer came before a series of such terrible years, but I'm glad it was there, that summer idyll before the seemingly endless season of hardship and death. (I imagine, though, dire things were already afoot in 1913, even if not in England.)

From: [identity profile] pearlette.livejournal.com

Eh, well, I have that book!!!!! *facepalm* I've only ever skimmed through it though, concentrating more on the pictures already familiar to me, like his Rivendell, Lothlorien, etc. I must look again. :)

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

HA HA HA! Read it sometime, the text is quite good and quick to read.


mechtild: (Default)

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