Tolkien as Allegory: A Study in 'Smith of Wooton Major'


  • Graham Shea Independent Scholar


J.R.R. Tolkien often asserted a disdain for allegory . . . and also acknowledged that it could be found in his works. By interacting with Tolkien’s last published work of fiction as well as the critical scholarship of both Verlyn Flieger and Tom Shippey, Shea digs into this contradiction and disassembles the allegory/no allegory binary, revealing an even deeper elegance and purpose to Tolkien’s work and the subcreation of Faërie.

Author Biography

Graham Shea, Independent Scholar

Graham Shea holds an MPhil in theology and religious studies from Cambridge University, where his dissertation on Coleridge’s “dynamic” theology was supervised by Malcolm Guite. He pursued an MLitt at St Andrew’s University’s Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts to study Charles Williams’s theology of romantic love, until in-person classes were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was awarded a fellowship at the Trinity Forum Academy, where he studied the relationship between reason and imagination through cognitive linguistics and embodied cognition. He earned his B.A. in journalism and economics from Pepperdine University. This is his first academic publication.