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Tolkien war exhibition arrives in Cannock - with video

Visitors can step back to J.R.R. Tolkien's time in Staffordshire during the First World War.

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Gill Heath at the J.R.R. Tolkien exhibition with a model of the writer

While his head was in the clouds dreaming up wizards, elves and hobbits, the Lord of the Rings writer was based in the county for the Great War and his work can be seen at an exhibition in Cannock.

J.R.R. Tolkien – Soldier and Myth-Maker is at Marquis Drive Visitor Centre in Cannock from last Tuesday to March 3 and has been so popular they have added new dates.

Rare poems, writings and artwork that he created while he was in Staffordshire in 1918 make up the exhibition along with photographs specially loaned by the Tolkien Estate and Bodleian Library.

It was launched in March 2016 and has been seen by over 200,000 visitors.

David Craddocks takes a look at The Cottage of Lost Play, made by Staffrodshire Dolls House Club which interprets a poem by Tolkien written in Great Haywood

He was a Second Lieutenant of the Lancashire Fusiliers, stationed in Whittington Heath, near Lichfield, followed by a camp at Newcastle-under-Lyme, then at Rugeley and Brocton Camps on Cannock Chase.

During his time, the famous writer used the county as his inspiration for Middle Earth in his world renowned Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books.

He was sent to the frontline in France in June 1916 to fight in the bloody Battle of the Somme before he was shipped back after contracting trench fever.

From then, he was briefly posted to East Yorkshire before he returned to live with his new wife, Edith, in Great Haywood before they moved to a cottage at Gipsy Green, Teddesley Park, near Penkridge where he created his first mythological stories.

J.R.R. Tolkien was based in Staffordshire during WW1

Gill Heath, libraries chief at Staffordshire County Council said: “This is a fascinating exhibition and is once again proving very popular with visitors. It’s only been at Marquis Drive for a few days but already the feedback has been incredibly positive.

“Around 200,000 people have already had the chance to see it as it’s made its way across the county which is amazing and shows there’s real interest in the story.

"It’s definitely clear that Staffordshire had a profound effect on Tolkien’s formative years, and we’re very proud and lucky to have the connection. If you haven’t already visited the exhibition, I’d definitely encourage you to get along to the visitors centre.”

The exhibition was meant to end at it's next stop in Chase Water, where it will be from March 6 to April 21, but five new dates have been added.

Visitors can see it at Eccleshall from April 24 to June 2, Norton Canes from june 5 to July 14, Hednesford from July 17 to September 1, Shenstone from September 4 to October 13 and Penkridge Library from October 16 to December 1.

Gill Heath at the J.R.R. Tolkien exhibition

It is organised by The Haywood Society, supported by Staffordshire County Council’s Libraries and Arts Service and the Museum of Cannock Chase, and funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund.