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Barry Houlihan/NUIG Archives
nui galway

Imagine if J.R.R. Tolkien was marking your exam papers?

If you were a NUI Galway student in the late forties… he might have been.

EXAMS ARE DAUNTING enough at the best of times, so imagine if on top of having to do all that studying, you then had to face J.R.R. Tolkien as your English examiner.

Archivists at NUI Galway have uncovered summer exams from 1949 which list the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit author as an external examiner.

According to the NUIG Archives blog Tokien was the Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College in Oxford at the time of the Galway exams.

Topics featured on the 1949 papers included Shakespeare, the novels of Walter Scott, “poetic justice and the hard facts of life” and the preternatural in Literature.

We wonder if a bad mark led to Tolkien writing “you shall not pass”* on the exam papers?

*Sorry. We had to.

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