From Athelas in English, 1994, copyright Imladris - Danmarks Tolkienforening

On the founding of Imladris

By Lars-Terje Lysemose


Building up a baby Tolkien society is no easy task. Though being barely a two-year-old child, there already lies a long and complexed history behind the Danish Tolkien Society. As can be read in the letters included in the beginning of this magazine, a profound sense of enthusiasm makes the basis of this newfounded organisation of ours. Having the honour of being the chairman of Imladris I would hereby like to tell you the abridged story of how our society came into existence.

My own aquaintance with Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings began one dark autumn evening at an age of 10 in 1984 (if my memory serves me right). My father had borrowed the Danish three volume paperback book club edition from my grandfather and decided ­after some consideration I am told ­ that what seemed to be a great fairy-story would suit his purpose well: to tell his son a long good bed-time story (and at the same time get a chance himself to read the story which already for some years had been known in Denmark). During those long autumn, winter and spring months I now found myself enthralled by a world and a story so intensely vivid and believable that I swallowed every word of it ­ Though I may not have been able to fully comprehend the complexity and deeper sense lying under-neath. Prior to The Lord of the Rings, my father had also read aloud the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis, Mikael Ende's The Never-Ending Story and Astrid Lindgren's Bröderna Lejonhjärta (I don't know the title of the English translation, but something like "The Lion Heart Brothers") and Ronja Röverdottor ("Ronja the Robber Daughter"), all set in a similar imaginary world. Aslan, Narnia, wardrobes, witches, Fantasia, Nangijala, Tengil the Tyran, Katla the Dragon and the devided Mattis castle mixed with the Shadows of Mordor and the land of Galadriel in my imagination. Those days were the days of adventure, hope, dispair, life and death and today I am truly endebted to my father for reading aloud these fantastic stories. Both C.S. Lewis, Mikael Ende and Astrid Lindgren have said that Tolkien has had a great impact on them so it is no coincidence that their worlds of fantasy in my imagination were linked together as a whole.

Four years later, after having been dragged into the realm of role playing, I found myself reading The Hobbit for the first time and The Lord of the Rings for the second. In 1992 I wrote a school paper on the fantasy genre and Tolkien and found the address of the Tolkien Society of Britain. I immediately wrote for more information and soon found out that every country with just a little respect for itself had a Tolkien society of its own. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Japan, Australia, the USA, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Poland ­ You name it! Still, there didn't seem to exist any such organisation in Denmark ­ and then there wasn't far from taking action! Through Chris Oakey of the Tolkien Society I got access to a list of Danish members and soon found myself sending out letters asking if they would be interested in forming a Danish Tolkien society. Inge Søbæk (then Lie-Olesen) and Sune Schlott responded to this and on Tolkien's 101st anniversary, 3 January 1993, we summoned for the first meeting of Danmarks Tolkienforening in Copenhagen.

It should be noticed, though, that until that day I still hadn't met either Inge or Sune and I was just as excited of the outcome of this project of ours as was Frodo of his adventure . Thanks to a lot of press attention 11 persons turned up on our founding convention. However, prior to this my gaze had fallen upon a notice in a news paper saying that an organisation called Tolkiens Følge ("The Followers of Tolkien") had been founded on Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday, 22 September 1992. You can imagine my astonish-ment when I found out that a Danish Tolkien society had already been formed! Here was I organising the foundation of Danmarks Tolkien-forening, having contact with Tolkien societies all over the world, and then there already existed a Danish Tolkien society! I immediately wrote a letter asking for more information and told the founders of Tolkiens Følge that they had stolen my very idea! Some time later I received a gentle reply telling me to find an alias from Middle-earth and prepare for dressing up in a Middle-earth dress ­ At that time not exactly my idea of a Tolkien society! (though as time has passed on and I have met some Swedish enthusiasts, I have come to accept this as being just another token of Tolkien enthusiasm).

Inge and I therefore went on with our plans and I wrote back to the founderer of Tolkiens Følge, Jeppe Juul, and told him of our decision. Thus, it happened that on 3 January 1993 Denmark had got not only one but two Tolkien socities! On our first meeting it was decided that the society should have its own magazine and I was elected as both chairman and editor. I had already come up with the name of Athelas for the magazine, an idea which Lars Physant immediately put into a logo based on Tolkien's monogram! The day after he enthusiastically showed us his first few sketches when Danmarks Tolkienforening held its second meeting and this time the venue was set to Danmarks Radio where we had got permission to (re)listen to some Tolkien recordings of theirs, the BBC Tolkien interview from 1964 and a Danish extract of The Hobbit read by the all time "grand old man" in Danish acting, Ove Sprogøe. In February the first issue of Athelas was published and almost silmoustanously Tolkiens Følge published a newsletter called Ringen. In Tolkiens Følge nothing had happened since their first meeting and therefore it was decided to merge the two at Danmarks Tolkienforening's third meeting on 15 May at the study of our founding member the artist Lars Physant, known for his illustrations for Tree and Leaf. At that time Danmarks Tol-kienforening had 30 members and Tolkiens Følge 20. Because of the merger it was decided to postphone any passing of regu-lations and instead try to link the two diffe-rent set of goals: Danmarks Tolkien-forening whose main idea it was to be a forum of Tolkien dis-cussion and Tolkiens Følge whose basis had a more social charac-ter, trying to make symposiums (after "the Swedish con-cept") and dressing up like hobbits and elves. More meetings were held where we discussed books and Tolkien topics as well as the future of the Danish Tolkien Society, trying to get more together and share views on Middle-earth and other topics. On 14 to 15 August we met in Viborg, the old king town in the heart of Jylland (Jutland) and on 13 November Inge's hobbit-hole in Copenhagen was entered. On 11 to 13 February 1994 we held our first official "Members' Thing" in Odense where we made state of affairs of the past year and also enjoyed a fantastic folk music concert by the Aks Ensemble who played some of their own compositions. With titles like "Tom Bombadil's jig" and "The Grey Havens" you may imagine what elvish tones the 40 listeners experienced! In passing I can mention that 3 albums have been made: Brise ("Breeze"), Der strander et skib ("A ship is stranded"), and Rejsen over havet ("The Voyage over the Sea"). They are available on tape and LP and will cost 75 DKK per copy sent to Europe and 90 DKK sent to the rest of the world. Besides arranging a concert, the Danish Tolkien Society was also host for an exhibion of Tolkien-inspired artwork, including among other things Lars Physant's collection of pictures for Tree and Leaf. And on 8 March your humble servant gave a paper on Tolkien's universe at the library of Viborg in connection with their Tree and Leaf exhibition.

Besides these more or less "arranged" meetings, members of Imladris have also met more privately, both in Køge and in my home south of Sæby. Today we have roughly 80 members and the society has taken the name of Imladris after a democratic election. In this issue you will find reports by our members of some of the events experienced both within and outside Imladris. Thus, I am convincedthat this is definitively not the end of Tolkien fandom in Denmark and it is my hope that our society will develop into a more closely united group of friends and have more local initiatives in the course of time. With the help of Athelas this enterprise of ours may very well grow into a healthy society! Let's look more closely upon that when we celebrate Bilbo and Frodo's anniversay as well as our own second birthday on 22 September 1994.


Anar kuluva tielvanna, málor!