Everyone’s Tolkien about Harpenden author’s new book

PUBLISHED: 14:57 14 March 2017 | UPDATED: 14:57 14 March 2017

Author David Rowe.

Author David Rowe.


A former turkey farmer has taken the literary world by storm with his Tolkien-inspired debut book.

The Proverbs of Middle-earthThe Proverbs of Middle-earth

David Rowe, from Harpenden, recently released ‘The Proverbs of Middle-earth’ – a collection of Tolkien’s original sayings from his different books, analysed and discussed. It’s proving popular with fantasy fans all over the globe.

David said: “I’ve been reading Tolkien more-or-less constantly since I was seven. A few years ago, I discovered that Tolkien’s invention of hundreds of original sayings is basically unique in English literature, so I decided to list them – because that’s what geeky people do!

“I suddenly discovered not only were the proverbs good, they also expressed the inner workings or philosophy of the people who use them, so for example, Elvish proverbs are distinctly Elvish and Entish proverbs are distinctively Entish, and so on.

“Two hundred million people have read Tolkien’s books but no one had noticed this beautiful detail before so I turned it into a book. You have to have a working knowledge of Middle-earth but having seen the films is enough. You don’t have to have re-read The Silmarillion 20 times!”

His favourite Tolkien proverbs include “Not all those who wander are lost” and “The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards”. He also uses “It’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish” whenever he is tempted to put jobs off.

The 35-year old ex-Verulam School pupil said: “I’ve tried to do the school proud: I’ve handed out free newspapers at 6am in Edinburgh’s winter sleet, farmed and cut the throats of Thanksgiving turkeys in Virginia and organised huge stadium concerts in New Zealand.”

David is currently working on the e-reader version of the book – which was mostly written between 3am and 7am, as he suffers with insomnia - and says whether or not he writes any more books depends on how much he sleeps.

He added: “I always knew that people like me would like the book. It’s been bought in such diverse places as Egypt, Tahiti and Harpenden and it’s been fun to find celebrity fans.

“Mark Ordesky, the executive producer of Peter Jackson’s movies, is one of those – plus one of my favourite musicians Ryan Adams bought copies for himself and family members. I would have given them to him if he had asked.”

The foreword of The Proverbs of Middle-earth, by Oloris Publishing, was written by philosopher and author Peter Kreeft, who describes it as “a romp, as well as a thorough and deeply penetrating exploration of its subject”.

David lived in Harpenden between the ages of three and 19 years old and played cricket for St Albans. He now lives in South Carolina, America, with his student nurse wife Maria and their two-year-old son Samson. They are expecting a baby in the summer.

He documents his love for The Lord of the Rings author on his Twitter feed @TolkienProverbs, which has more than 15,000 followers.

The book is available on Amazon and Book Depository.


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