‘He was Gollum — as dark as darkness – except for two big round pale eyes’.
In August of 1952 having just finished the manuscript of The Lord of the Rings – Tolkien took a vacation in Worcestershire – where he stayed with his friend George Sayer – an English Master at the local college.
To entertain his guest one evening Sayer pulled out an early portable tape recorder.
Although the technology had been around for some time it was only just becoming commercially available and Tolkien hadn’t seen one before.
Intrigued by how it worked he joked that he ‘ought to cast out any devil that might be in it’ by recording himself reading the Lord’s Prayer in his beloved ancient Gothic language.
The result delighted him and he went on to read from his own work.
In this rare archival recording from that serendipitous summer evening sixty-year-old Tolkien reads from The Hobbit – doing a magnificent impression of Gollum in the ancient accent he so loved.