Writings about J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, J.K.Rowling, and Other Authors of Fantasy Literature


Some of my essays about fantasy literature (especially about J.R.R.Tolkien) have appeared online as well as in print. Below are a few samples.


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About Narnia and the Fields of Arbol

"The authors make their case in depth, revealing not only a detailed knowledge of Lewis's fiction, but extensive familiarity with the critical literature surrounding it, as well as environmental literature in general. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol is both revelatory and a pleasure to read." ---Robert Siegel

"This is an insightful and timely study of a significant but relatively neglected aspect of C. S. Lewis's fiction." ---Sanford Schwartz, author of The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and Early Twentieth Century Thought

'From Homer to Harry Potter' book cover 'Following Gandalf' book cover 'A Hobbit Journey' book cover 'Narnia and the Fields of Arbol' book cover 'Ents, Elves, and Eriador' book cover


About From Homer to Harry Potter: "Dickerson and O'Hara are as up to date on ancient myth and epic as on the latest in contemporary fantasy. Their work provides a vital context for the very latest literary phenomenon, and searches out the timeless and the universal within the flux of modern inventions." --T. A. Shippey, author of J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century

About Following Gandalf: "Matthew Dickerson's Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victories in the Lord of the Rings is one of the best Tolkien-studies books to be published in recent years... a wonderfully rich analysis of the true battles of The Lord of the Rings: not the physical battles of the recent films, but the internal, spiritual, moral battles of the main characters...In short, Following Gandalf is a book definitely worth reading... it makes the reader want to return to the original text and pore over it yet again and again to find those things missed in earlier readings." --- Matthew Winslow, The Green Man Review


  • Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings (2004)
  • Ents, Elves and Eriador: the Environmental Vision of J.R.R.Tolkien (with Jonathan Evans) (2006)
  • From Homer to Harry Potter: a Handbook of Myth and Fantasy with David O'Hara(2006)
  • Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: the Environmental Vision of C.S.Lewis with David O'Hara (2009)
  • A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J.R.R.Tolkien's Middle-earth (2012)

About Narnia and the Fields of Arbol

"Narnia and the Fields of Arbol is a splendid book. Insightful and well-written, based on a close and careful reading of Lewis' fantasy literature, this volume clearly illustrates, as the subtitle puts it, the environmental vision of C.S. Lewis. It also demonstrates how authentic Christian faith is an ally, not an enemy, of creation care. ---Steven Bouma-Prediger, author of For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care

"Dickerson and O'Hara demonstrate convincingly that environmental themes play a much larger role in Lewis's thought than has so far been recognized. And they show that Lewis's "environmental vision" ― especially as expressed in his fiction ― can contribute to our current conversation more than today's environmentalists have suspected. This is a fine addition to Lewis studies that also enriches our understanding of how to care for our world. ---Alan Jacobs, author of The Narnian: the Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis


In addition to his authored or co-authored book-length treatments, Matthew Dickerson has also contributed book chapters to several other works of scholarship or critical exploration of the writings of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. These include:

  • "Preface" to The Gender Dance: Ironic Subversion in C. S. Lewis's Cosmic Trilogy by Monika Hilder, in the series Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature, ed. Karen Radell (Peter Lang, 2013).
  • "The Hröa and Fëa of Middle-earth: Health, Ecology and the War" in The Body in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on Middle-earth Corporeality ed. Christopher Vaccaro, (McFarland, 2013).
  • "Theism and Irony" in The Routledge Companion to Theism, (Routledge, 2012).
  • "Water, Ecology, and Spirituality in Tolkien’s Middle-earth" in Light beyond All Shadows: Religious Experience in the Work of J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Paul E. Kerry and Sandra Miesel, (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2011).
  • J.R.R.Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, ed Michael D.C.Drout (Routledge, 2006). Entries include: “Ents”, “Treebeard”, “Elves: Kindreds and Migrations”, “Finwë and Miriel”, “Theological and Moral Approaches in Tolkien’s Works”, “Tree and Leaf”, “Old Man Willow”.


I had the opportunity to do graduate studies at Cornell University in Old English Language and Literature from 1986 to 1988. Since then I have taught numerous classes at Middlebury College on fantasy, fairy tale, and various aspects of the writings of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. These years of study have led to the opportunit to author or co-author several books, chapters, and essays on fantasy literature, especially (but not exclusively) on the writings of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. Reviews of some of these books are posted on this page.

I have also given talks on fantasy literature at colleges and universities, high schools, libraries, and other venues around the country, and also taught courses and workshops on creative writing including the writing of fantasy. Check out The Northern Pen Young Writers' Conference to be held October 12-15, 2017.