IN Tolkien's popular fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings, slimy creature Gollum would mutter 'My Precious!' as he mourned the loss of his most prized possession.

The skinny Hobbit, called Gollum because of his habit of making a horrible swallowing noise in his throat, was not known for keeping quiet.

But even he would be lost for words if he was able to feast his eyes on the vast array of Tolkien memorabilia destined to go on show at the Bodleian Library.

The creative genius of JRR Tolkien will be the focus of a major new exhibition in 2018 at the Bodleian's Weston Library.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth will explore the full power of Tolkien’s literary imagination, from his creation of Middle-earth, the imagined world where The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and his other stories are set, to his life and work as an artist, poet, medievalist and scholar of languages.

For the first time since the 1950s, an unprecedented array of Tolkien materials from the UK and the United States will be reunited in Oxford and displayed together in a showcase of the author's work.

Bodley's Librarian Richard Ovenden said: "We are delighted to be hosting this unparalleled exhibition of Tolkien materials that will take visitors beyond what they know of Tolkien from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and introduce them to his extraordinary repertoire of work as an artist, poet and scholar.

"The exhibition will reunite fascinating works from the Bodleian’s foremost Tolkien archive with items from the United States and private collections, bringing them together in the city where Tolkien wrote his most famous works.

"Summer 2018 may seem like a long way off, but we wanted to give visitors an opportunity to mark their diaries and make plans to attend this unprecedented exhibition at the Weston Library."

The exhibition will feature manuscripts, artwork, maps, letters and artefacts from the Bodleian’s extensive Tolkien Archive, the Tolkien Collection at Marquette University in the United States, and artefacts from private collections.

The Bodleian houses the largest collection of original Tolkien manuscripts and drawings in the world and the exhibition will take visitors beyond what they may already know about this extraordinary author, delighting Tolkien fans as well as scholars, families and visitors of all ages.

It will examine the scholarly, literary, creative and domestic worlds that influenced Tolkien as an author and artist, allowing visitors to engage with his works as never before.

Other items on display will include photos and letters from Tolkien’s childhood and student days, exploring themes of love, loss and war, and letters of appreciation from a wide range of admirers including poet WH Auden, singer Joni Mitchell and novelist Iris Murdoch.

The exhibition will launch on Jun 1 next year and run for six months.