Oxford Walking Tours

Literary Tours

J. R. R. Tolkien Tour

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Tolkien’s Oxford is a magical, mysterious city where the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings was inspired to create his imaginary world.

Visit the famous colleges and locations where Tolkien spent his life.  Our guides will show you the magnificent, ancient surroundings of this iconic World Heritage site.  A truly unique experience awaits you as Middle Earth prepares to open its gleaming doors…

“Oxford!  The very sight of the word printed, or sound of it spoken, is fraught for me with most actual magic.”

Max Beerbohm’s words in Zuleika Dobson ring as true today as when they were written a hundred years ago.

Oxford’s magic has inspired generations of creative writers, some of them internationally famous, like J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, others known to a more restricted but discerning readership, like Philip Larkin and Beerbohm himself.

Our literary walking tour evokes many of these unique personalities and shows you the places where they studied and relaxed, were rapt by religious fervour, composed in mad erotic delirium, or drifted away into dreams of other worlds and other days.  Our guides, noted literary experts, will take you round the centre of “that sweet city… with her dreaming spires” as Matthew Arnold phrased it, and give you a genuine flavour of Oxford’s glorious literary past, and her vibrant present.  Colleges will be visited so that the living atmosphere of the university, jealously preserved through long centuries, can be experienced just as it was by the writers themselves.

The tour lasts for an hour and a half, giving plenty of time to wander and savour the delights of the ‘English Athens’: its halls, chapels, cloisters, and gardens which, as W. H. Auden expressed it, the rooks still haunt “like agile babies”.  The whole history of the English language can be traced in these ancient places, right up to a 21st century of dynamic change, and the resonant names of Shelley, Swift, Wilde, T. E. Lawrence, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Waugh, Amis, Philip Pullman and Le Carré will come to assume greater significance and fascination, even for those who know their work well.  For those who do not, a whole new world of knowledge and imagination awaits discovery.

We will step back in time at the end of the tour with exclusive access to the affectionately known ‘Gaffers Room’, the heart of the world-famous Blackwell’s Bookshop, a beautifully furnished Victorian office where the Blackwell family presided over a literary empire and ignited the careers of J. R. R. Tolkien, John Betjeman, and many others.

This short trailer gives an idea of what to expect:

The Literary Tours start from outside Blackwell’s Bookshop, 48-51 Broad Street, OX1 3BQ.  Here is the timetable:

  • Literary Tours

    • Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1pm;
  • C.S. Lewis & Tolkien Tours

    • Thursdays at 1pm.

Both tours are £18 for adults, £17 for students/seniors, £15 for Oxford residents/students/alumni[1] and £10 for children under 16; this includes all college admissions.

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Mr Blackwell’s Missing Order Treasure Hunt

Can you solve the mystery of Mr Blackwell’s Missing Order?

Visit Blackwell’s on Broad Street to pit your wits against a puzzle that has left our booksellers scratching their heads.

Our treasure hunt is free to play and will keep children and adults busy exploring the bookshop and solving the mystery.

All three Blackwell’s Bookshops in Oxford are open.

Blackwell’s 48-51 Broad Street · Blackwell’s Art & Poster · Blackwell’s Westgate Oxford