Re: Location for Tolkiens inspiation for Middle Earth!
Interesting, I've just finished re-reading the Letters and there's no mention in any of them of Hurst Green, Stoneyhurst College or the Ribbel Valley that I can find. All the letters published that correspond to the LOTR writing period all seem to be addressed from Oxford. I'm not sure what to believe. It could just be clever marketing, after all it would be hard to prove these claims incorrect unless someone came up with some documentation from the author that states either another location or says categorically no to this idea. Perhaps they're right and Tolkien never thought to mention it in a letter. Also maybe the letters that made the book were the ones considered more interesting. A "vacation" letter from Hurst Green would be less likely to make the book than the ones that talk about either the books or the lore that went with it, unpublished at the time. I'm kind of on the fence on this one.
There is a letter (#340) where Tolkien says that the Luthien story was conceived in a hemlock grove at Roos in Yorkshire in 1917. Letter 306 says that a 1911 visit to Switzerland is the basis for Bilbo's trip through the Misty's and his sliding down into trees after escaping the Goblins.
"You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81