Mythopoeic Press
Books by and about writers of mythopoeic and fantastic literature

Gifted Amateurs, Mythopoeic Press

Gifted Amateurs and Other Essays:

On Tolkien, the Inklings, and Fantasy Literature

by David Bratman

ISBN: 978-1-887726-26-9
Published: Altadena CA, 2023
(purchase below)

For more than four decades, David Bratman has established himself as a leading authority on J.R.R. Tolkien, the Inklings, and the enchanting realms of fantasy literature. Bratman’s scholarly articles, captivating Mythopoeic Conference presentations, and esteemed editorial work for the newsletter Mythprint and the journal Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review have solidified his expertise. Now, in celebration of his profound contributions and recent distinction as the Scholar Guest of Honor at Mythcon 52, the Mythopoeic Press proudly presents Gifted Amateurs and Other Essays, an extraordinary collection of some of Bratman’s most insightful, engaging, and intellectually stimulating works.

Within these pages, discover the untold stories behind the “Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from The Lord of the Rings,” unravel the religious themes woven throughout Middle-earth, and delve into the surprising origins of hobbit names. Guided by Bratman’s unwavering curiosity and scholarly passion, explore the fascinating history of the Inklings and how they connect to the boundless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, unearth the dramatic works of Lord Dunsany and the overlooked masterpiece of Mervyn Peake, and revel in the mythopoeic genius of Roger Zelazny. Seamlessly blending scholarship and entertainment, Gifted Amateurs and Other Essays invites readers on a journey that illuminates the true essence and enduring power of mythopoeic storytelling.

David Bratman has been writing Tolkien scholarship for nearly 50 years. He’s been co-editor of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review since 2013 and has edited its annual “Year’s Work in Tolkien Studies” since 2004. In addition to contributing to Tolkien scholarship, Bratman has published works on Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, Ursula Le Guin, Mervyn Peake, Neil Gaiman, and others. Now a retired academic librarian, Bratman also was editor of the Mythopoeic Society’s members’ bulletin Mythprint for 15 years and worked on many Mythopoeic Conferences, including serving twice as chair.



  • Remarks on Part 1: Tolkien
  • 1. J.R.R. Tolkien: An Introduction to His Work
  • 2. The Literary Value of The History of Middle-earth
  • 3. Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from The Lord of the Rings: A Textual Excursion into “The History of The Lord of the Rings”
  • 4. The Artistry of Omissions and Revisions in The Lord of the Rings
  • 5. Hobbit Names Aren’t from Kentucky
  • 6. Smith of Wootton Major and Genre Fantasy

  • Remarks on Part 2: Inklings
  • 7. “Gifted Amateurs”: C.S. Lewis and the Inklings
  • 8. The Inklings and the Pacific Ocean
  • 9. C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy: An Informal View
  • 10. Unmasquing Charles Williams

  • Remarks on Part 3: Others
  • 11. Imaginary Worlds, Sliced and Preserved
  • 12. How Do You Solve a Problem Like King Arthur?
  • 13. The Plays of Lord Dunsany
  • 14. Mervyn Peake, the Gormenghast Diptych, and Titus Alone
  • 15. The Geography of Earthsea
  • 16. Roger Zelazny, Mythopoeic in the High Desert
  • 17. A Game of You—Yes, You

  • Remarks on Part 4: Squiggles
  • 18. The Fellowship of the Ring: A Review, 1954
  • 19. The Condensed Silmarillion
  • 20. The Case Against Peter Jackson
  • 21. Yes, There Is Religion in Middle-earth
  • 22. Paul Edwin Zimmer, Swordsman and Poet
  • 23. The Making of a Tolkien Fan: A Personal Reminiscence


  • Gifted Amateurs, Mythopoeic Press Gifted Amateurs and Other Essays:
    On Tolkien, the Inklings, and Fantasy Literature

    by David Bratman
    Published in July 2023; available both in print and electronic formats

    Buy in trade paperback format: $19.95

    Buy in Kindle format from Amazon: $9.99

    Other ebook versions (from Smashwords) $9.99

    Content copyright 1967- The Mythopoeic Society All rights reserved.