Tolkien and Shakespeare: one a prolific popular dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan era, the other a twentieth-century scholar of Old English and author of a considerably smaller body of work. Though unquestionably very different writers, the two have more in common than one might expect. These essays focus on the broad themes and motifs, which concerned both authors. They seek to uncover Shakespeare's influence on Tolkien through echoes of the playwright's themes and even word choices, discovering how Tolkien used, revised, updated, ""corrected,"" and otherwise held an ongoing dialogue with Shakespeare's works. The depiction of Elves and the world of Faerie, and how humans interact with them, are some of the most obvious points of comparison and difference for the two writers. Both Tolkien and Shakespeare deeply explored the uses and abuses of power with princes, politics, war, and the lessons of history. Magic and prophecy were also of great concern to both authors, and the works of both are full of encounters with the other: masks and disguises, mirrors that hide and reveal, or seeing stones that show only part of the truth.
Janet Brennan Croft is head of Access and Delivery services at Rutgers University Alexander Library in New Brunswick, New Jersey.