THE son of JRR Tolkien has welcomed the Bodleian's Libraries' highest honour for his father's work to bring his legacy into the public eye.

Christopher Tolkien, the 91-year-old son of The Lord of the Rings author, said he took 'particular pleasure' in receiving the Bodley Medal as the library was home to a great deal of his father's manuscripts.

The scholar and editor has spent the past 40 years editing his father's posthumously published works of prose and poetry.

The North Oxford-educated man joins the likes of Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir David Attenborough and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee as recipients of the award.

Mr Tolkien said: "Although I have never looked for anything remotely of such a kind, I find it especially welcome to receive the Bodley Medal in that it affirms the unique significance of my father's creation and accords a worthy place in the Republic of Letters to Tolkien scholarship.

He added: "It gives me particular pleasure that the award comes from and is conceived by the Bodleian, where a great part of my father's manuscripts lie and where I have happy memories of the great library itself."

The youngest of Tolkien's three sons, Christopher was educated at the Dragon School in North Oxford, before moving to The Oratory School in Reading and then studying English Literature at Oxford after serving in the RAF during the Second World War.

His father, best known for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, also wrote scores of unpublished poetry and prose relating to the fantasy world he created left behind when he died in 1973.

Christopher has worked to bring these manuscripts to the public to further enrich his father's legacy, including editing The Silmarillion, a collection of stories set in Middle Earth.

In 2014 his editing of his father's unpublished translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf was widely praised by scholars and Tolkien lovers alike.

The Bodley Medal is awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions to literature, culture, science and communication.

The Bodley's Librarian - the library's most senior position - Richard Ovenden, said: "Christopher Tolkien's contribution as a scholar and editor has been immense.

"Without his dedication and commitment, his father's works would not have reached such a broad public audience and without his erudition and scholarship JRR Tolkien's work would not have been presented so fully and with such authority."

The Bodleian Libraries hold the largest collection of original Tolkien manuscripts and drawings in the world and an archive of the author's work has existed there since 1979.

A major Tolkien exhibition is currently being planned at the library for 2018.