What Is Bree Moot?
by Nancy Martsch
(used here by permission)
Bree Moot is a conference sponsored by the J.R.R. Tolkien fan magazine Beyond Bree. And Beyond Bree is the newsletter of the Tolkien Special Interest Group of American Mensa. (Mensa is a high-IQ society.) Subscriptions to Beyond Bree are open to all lovers of Middle-earth, Mensan and non-Mensan alike.*
Beyond Bree has been published monthly since March 1981, a record few fan magazines can equal. It is devoted to news, short articles, and readers’ views. Though small, it has subscribers in the USA and many foreign countries, exchanges with many European Tolkien societies, is housed in various Tolkien archives (Wheaton College, Marquette University, The Bodleian Library). You may have noticed the Beyond Bree byline in Mythprint occasionally: we exchange with the Mythopoeic Society as well
But Beyond Bree subscribers were always too widely scattered to meet in person. Until Ron Hyde organized the first Bree Moot in his home town of Bettendorf, Iowa. It was held in the Abbey Hotel, a former monastery, over the weekend of October 29-30, 1994. The festivities included two feasts, a Great Cake, persentations by Gary Hunnewell, Christopher Mitchell, Richard West, Michael Foster, and others; videos of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth Role-Playing, an Art Show, Goblin Market (flea market), Raffle and Masquerade; and displays from Marquette, Beyond Bree, and Ron’s fanzine collection.
The second Bree Moot was sponsored by Gary Hunnewell and John Houghton, Duke of Numenor (of the Restored Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, a Tolkien fan group). It took place in the Cheshire Inn & Lodge, a pseudo-Victorian hotel in St. Louis, MO, on October 28-29, 1995. Tom Shippey was Guest of Honor. The Moot was preceeded by a Reception at the home of Gary and Sylvia Hunnewell, with quantities of Hobbit food and Gary’s Tolkien collection. Then there were papers and panels, a Banquet with Mock Dragon’s Tail (presented by Sir Gary and his Esquire Tristan), a Masquerade, the Elvish Poetry Prize from Lisa Star (editor of Tyalië Tyelelliéva), a ceremony for hte Restored Kingdoms, a Tolkien video, and talk into the wee hours. And Golfimbul in the park the next day, the Goblin Market, and more papers.
Bree Moot 3 was a little different. It was held in the spring, to coincide with a theatrical performance of The Hobbit in Minneapolis, MN, on May 9-11, at the University of Minnesota and nearby Radisson Hotel. On Friday there were programs and displays at the Kerlan and Children’s Literature Research Collections in the University Libraries, on Saturday a trip to the Hobbit performance, and papers and panels thereafter. The Guest of Honor was John Rateliff, who is writing the history of The Hobbit. And the Banquet, Poetry Prize, Golfimbul, Goblin Market . . . .
As one can see, Bree Moots are similar to Mythcons, but smaller. One-track programming, one meeting room, homemade food, etc. . . . So this Bree Moot 4 combined with Mythcon will be our biggest ever. But we hope to continue the tradition of good scholarship, good friendship, and good fun in an informal atmosphere which has characterized previous Moots.
The theme is “Bree & Beyond: Exploring the Fantasy Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien and His Fellow Travelers.” The Guests of Honor are Douglas A. Anderson, Gary Hunnewell, and Sylvia Hunnewell. The Moot will take place July 30-August 2, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1999 is the 50th anniversary of Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham, and Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull are preparing a new edition of Farmer Giles. Marquette University Library holds the manuscripts to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Farmer Giles of Ham, and a lot of Tolkien fan material, including the Hunnewell and Blackwelder Collections. Douglas Anderson, annotator of The Annotated Hobbit, got his start in fandom (as did many other Tolkien scholars). Gary Hunnewell, “Mr. Tolkien Fandom,” has probably the finest collection of Tolkien fan material in the U.S.A. Sylvia Hunnewell is a noted Tolkien fan artist. So Bree Moot 4 will feature fantasy writers, Famer Giles and fandom — scholarship and fun.
Expect Bree Moot 4/Mythcon 30 to be a little different from previous Mythcons and Bree Moots. Expect it to be a great Con! See you there!
*Beyond Bree is published monthly. One-year subscriptions cost $10 USA, $13 foreign. Make checks payable to Nancy Martsch, P.O. Box 55372, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413, USA. Back issues are also available. BB also publishes: Basic Quenya $10; shipping, USA book rate $1.25, USA 1st class/Canada air $3.00; Europe air $5, surface $2.75. List of Tolkienalia $10; USA 1st class/foreign air $3, USA book rate/foreign surface $1.