Tolkien and CS Lewis manuscripts among treasures made available to public in 2023 | JRR Tolkien

Tolkien and CS Lewis manuscripts among treasures made available to public in 2023 | JRR Tolkien

Manuscripts and books belonging to CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien – creators of two of the most popular fantasy worlds in literary history – are among the cultural objects being made available to the public this year.

The brains behind Narnia and Middle Earth were close friends and fellow dons at Oxford University. Their previously unpublished correspondence is among an archive belonging to the estate of the literary adviser Walter Hooper that is being donated to the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts schemes.

The archive also contains Lewis’s personal copy of Prince Caspian, the rare early book Spirits in Bondage (written under his alias Clive Hamilton), and a notebook relating to Boxen, a fictional world Lewis created as a child, before Narnia. Tolkien’s manuscripts relate to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and Futhorc: The Runes as used by Thorin Oakenshield. They have been allocated to the Bodleian Library and the Story Museum, Oxford.

The title page of Clive Hamilton (pseudonym of CS Lewis), Spirits of Bondage, 1919, first edition, signed by the author
The title page of Clive Hamilton (pseudonym of CS Lewis), Spirits of Bondage, 1919, first edition, signed by the author. Photograph: The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford © CS Lewis Pte Ltd

In total, more than £52m-worth of items have been accepted for the nation by Arts Council England this year. The Acceptance in Lieu scheme allows people to settle an inheritance tax bill by transferring important cultural, scientific or historic objects to the nation, while the Cultural Gifts Scheme enables UK taxpayers to donate works to public museums, galleries and libraries in exchange for a tax reduction.

Other standouts this year include the archive of the award-winning British TV show Spitting Image, which used puppets to satirise prominent public figures including politicians, sportspeople and celebrities. It includes working drawings, scripts, contracts and production files, which detail the process of making the puppets.

Spitting Image’s viewing figures were particularly strong in the 1980s and 90s, and the show is most associated with the politics of that time. There is material produced by its co-creators Roger Law and Peter Fluck, who previously created artworks for England’s leading newspapers and political publications – all of which are being donated to Cambridge University Library.

Meanwhile, Robert Burns House in Dumfries will receive two volumes of poems by the so-called national poet of Scotland. Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, published by William Creech in 1793, also includes an autograph inscription in Volume I by Burns to Margaret Elizabeth Graham, the wife of his patron Robert Graham of Fintry, 12th Laird of Fintry.

A Spitting Image card: ‘The Plumb-Pudding in Danger’
A Spitting Image card: ‘The Plumb-Pudding in Danger’. Photograph: Spitting Image/Cambridge University Library

The long and personal dedication is one of the most interesting to survive by Burns in any of his books, and demonstrates the close relationship he had with the couple.

It reads: “To Mrs Graham of Fintry – It is probable, Madam, that this page may be read when the hand that now writes it is mouldering in the dust. – May it then bear witness, that I present you these volumes, as a tribute of gratitude, on my part, ardent sincere; as your and Mr. Graham’s goodness to me has been generous and noble! – May every child of yours, in the hour of need find such a friend, as I shall teach every child of mine that their father found in you. Robt. Burns.”

There are also two sculptures by Dame Barbara Hepworth: River Form, one of only five-large scale wooden sculptures by the artist, which is being allocated to the Ashmolean Museum; and Single Form, a rare, surviving plaster sculpture from the 1930s, which is being allocated to Tate St Ives.

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Separately, two medicine cabinets known as Frank and Lorna Dunphy as Adam and Eve by Damien Hirst have been allocated to National Galleries of Scotland. Hirst named the work after his business manager and his wife, and used objects to represent the couple’s private and public interests, such as pills that Frank Dunphy took to manage his high blood pressure.

Among the other cultural objects being made available to the public this year are a pot by the ceramicist Magdalene Odundo; Monet’s L’Epte à Giverny; Renoir’s L’allée au bois; Rembrandt’s A Baby Sleeping in a Cradle; Gainsborough’s Portrait of Thomas Charles Tracy, 6th Viscount Tracy; and Pier Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi’s The Apollo Belvedere. There is also material including sketches and drawings by Lucian Freud.

Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England, said the variety of objects accepted for the nation this year would “enrich the cultural experience of more people in more places across the UK, from Ulster in Northern Ireland to Canterbury in Kent”.

He emphasised how past acquisitions had “enhanced collections and have had a positive impact on institutions and their audiences”.

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