Reading Group: “Leaf by Niggle” by J. R. R. Tolkien

About the Story

First published in the Dublin Review in January 1945 and later in his collection Tree and Leaf (which also included the essay “On Fairy Stories”), Tolkien’s account of a curmudgeonly but kind-hearted painter and his unfinished masterpiece is a perfect companion to our own unique creative journeys. It’s also a perfect story for us to read together as we think more deeply about the role of creativity within our Christian communities.

About the Course

Hosted by Jennifer Trafton, this reading group will provide a space for contemplation and conversation as we prepare our hearts and imaginations for the Rabbit Room’s Hutchmoot Homebound conference, culminating in a lecture by Tolkien scholar Matthew Dickerson on “The Artist and Community.” Join anytime—the materials and discussion forum will be available starting October 1 and stay open indefinitely.

All Hutchmoot attendees will receive a free copy of “Leaf by Niggle” either in their Moot Kits or as a digital download. The story is also included in The Tolkien Reader, available through the Rabbit Room store. Other recommended reading for this group includes Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories,” also in The Tolkien Reader.

Hutchmoot attendees will be able to watch Matthew Dickerson’s lecture and participate in a live Zoom Q&A with Matthew on Saturday, October 10.

Do I have to attend Hutchmoot in order to join the reading group?

No! This group is open to everyone! After the conference ends, Matthew Dickerson’s lecture and a recording of the Q&A will be archived here, and the discussion forum will be open indefinitely for new book group registrants to continue reading and discussing the story.

Course Instructors

Jennifer Trafton Discussion Leader

Jennifer Trafton served as the managing editor of Christian History magazine before returning to her first love, children’s literature. She is the author of two middle-grade novels, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic and Henry and the Chalk Dragon .

Matthew Dickerson Lecturer

Matthew Dickerson is an author, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, a scholar of the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and the fantastic fiction of C. S. Lewis, and an environmental journalist and outdoor writer. He is the author of numerous books, among them A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, which was short-listed for the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythopoeic Scholarship Awards, and the coauthor of From Homer to Harry Potter: A Handbook on Myth and Fantasy; Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J. R. R. Tolkien; and Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis. He lives in Bristol, Vermont.

Join the Reading Group