Cantigny in Wheaton to present virtual lecture on Tolkien and two world wars

WHEATON – The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park continues its acclaimed “Date with History” series with an online program featuring author Janet Brennan Croft, who will discuss J.R.R. Tolkien’s personal experience with war and how it manifested in his legendarium.

The presentation, offered via Zoom, begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 7. The program is free, but registration is required at

One of the reasons that J.R.R. Tolkien is such a popular author is that he can be read at many levels, a news release stated. For the reader willing to look deeper than the adventure-story surface, his works carry important themes. One of them is war. In fact, the theme of war runs through all of Tolkien’s books, especially “The Lord of the Rings.”

Repeated motifs include the effects of war on individuals; families and society; whether war can ever be justified; and if so, the proper conduct of war. Other themes include close friendships among groups of men in war and the glory and horror of battle. The depiction of war and its effects were drawn from Tolkien’s life. He served in the First World War at the Battle of the Somme, and two of his sons fought in World War II. Like all artists, he absorbed the materials of his own life into his art.

Croft is a librarian at the University of Northern Iowa. She is the author of “War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien” (2004), and writes about other authors, television shows and movies. Croft often serves as editor or co-editor of literary essays, the most recent being “Something Has Gone Crack: New Perspectives on Tolkien in the Great War” (2019). In addition, she edits the refereed scholarly journal Mythlore.

The First Division Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton. Entry is included with Cantigny’s parking fee. Face coverings currently are required inside the museum, regardless of COVID-vaccination status. More information is online at