Once again, John Garth‘s careful historical research on WWI and J.R.R. Tolkien and compelling storytelling have produced a beautiful piece. This is the story of Colin Cullis, a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien who survived the war only to pass away 100 years ago this month. For historian buffs or Tolkien fans–or for people who find the stories of everyday people worth hearing about–this is a post worth reading.
Colin Cullis and J.R.R. Tolkien at Exeter College, Oxford, in 1912 (courtesy of H.D.L. Thompson)
‘Not a single man I know is up except Cullis,’ Tolkien lamented at the start of his final year as an Oxford student. It was 1914, war had just broken out, and their friends had left in droves to enlist in the army.
Cullis died one hundred years ago this month – not a victim of war, but as young as many who were. Outside my own books, nothing new has been written about him since Humphrey Carpenter published the snippet above in his 1977 biography of Tolkien. He is not one of the T.C.B.S. – the ‘immortal four’ who play a central role in my Tolkien and the Great War. Yet Cullis was a good friend to Tolkien, and he was one of the few people on hand in that final Oxford year…
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Beautiful, indeed – thanks for alerting us to it!
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